To understand consumer behaviour, you’ll need to get inside your customer’s head! Marketing success depends on gaining attention and influencing action. And the bottom line is that businesses fail when they don’t sell their products. Leveraging information about how customers think about what they buy is insightful … but only when used correctly!
Marketing psychology can help anyone in sales, marketing, PR or those who run their own business understand more about consumer behaviour. It can also give insights into how to gather data and market goods and services in different types of selling environments. And given the uncertainty of these current times, it’s valuable knowledge to have now and into the future.
That’s why we are excited to be launching our new course, the Certificate of Marketing Psychology. A marketing psychology course can help you advance your marketing skills and knowledge, and prepare you for the time when businesses can finally get back on track after COVID-19.
- Learn about the reasons for and the scope and nature of marketing
- Explore the different types of customers – loyal, discount, needs-based, wandering and impulse
- Gain insights into different types of shoppers – economic, personal and apathetic
- Understand reward options – rational, sensory, social and ego-satisfying
- Study beliefs, attitudes, affects and behavioural intention
- Explore the area of market segmentation in terms of age, sex, geographic and demographic factors
- Gain insights into market segmentation in terms of socio-economic and geo-demographic factors
- Learn about psychological segmentation and segmentation by usage and benefit
- Explore global segmentation and the entry into foreign markets
- Study how to create a total product concept and diffuse new products
- Discover how internal influences affect perception and personality
- Learn more about the senses – vision, hearing and smell
- Gain insights into multi-sensual marketing
- Explore the thresholds of awareness
- Study attention and sensory adaption
- Learn about perceptual cues and perceptual distortion
- Uncover the theories of Gestalt psychology and the Phi phenomenon
- Gain insights into subliminal and selection perception
- Study product image and self-image
- Learn about personality theory and its application to marketing
- Explore the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) theory
- Uncover the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) theory
- Study self-theory, Trait theory and the Rorschach Ink Blot Test theory
- Learn about Freudian and non-Freudian theories
- Gain insights into brand personality, relationship segmentation and self-image marketing
- Understand internal influences like motivation and awareness
- Study the influences of learning and behavioural and cognitive approaches
- Learn about classic and operant conditioning
- Explore memory and marketing
- Gain insights into modelling, motivation, motivations and inertia
- Uncover Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
- Study involvement, including the properties, antecedents and outcomes
- Learn about specific needs and how to create them
- Explore semiotics and unconscious motivation
- Gain an understanding of society
- Learn about households, family changes, influences and life cycles
- Study family consumer decisions
- Learn about institutional effects and socialisation including consumer socialisation
- Explore roles and how and when they change
- Gain insights into conflict resolution
- Study social and developmental influences and influences on children
- Explore marketing and advertising in terms of psychology
- Learn about small and formal and informal groups
- Study membership and reference groups
- Understand reference groups and consumer behaviour
- Gain insights into the variability of products
- Understand the differences in consumer susceptibility
- Explore the influence of social class
- Learn about class categories, changing class and how to measure class
- Gain insights into marketing and consumer behaviour
- Study cultural influences, communication, ideals and actualities
- Discover the differences in culture – subcultures, ethnicity and changes in culture
- Learn about the value of studying the consumer
- Understand what a consumer is
- Study the history of consumerism and how the consumer experience has changed
- Understand the supplier
- Discover business ethics including international ethics
- Learn about the market place and consumer action
- Explore false and deceptive advertising
- Study the methods of false advertising including false pricing and insufficient details
- Gain an understanding of communication and persuasion
- Understand attitudes, the concept of attitude and how attitudes form
- Discover how attitudes are changed
- Examine the practical applications for marketing
- Learn about message evaluation and selection
- Explore message execution
- Study what words sell including celebrity testimonials
- Uncover what makes people decide to buy
- Gain an understanding of how people make a decision including rational decisions
- Discover Heuristic Procedures in terms of decision making
- Examine the step-by-step decision-making process
- Gain insights into merchandising
- Learn about the trend toward home shopping
Top 10 Principles of Marketing Psychology
One of the key elements of marketing is leveraging how and why people think and act the way they do, which is essentially what the field of psychology attempts to explain. If you understand fundamental psychology principles, then you’re more likely to be able to attract, convince and convert the right audience.
#1 – Priming
Priming in marketing is a subconscious reaction to stimuli that can influence our conscious decisions to new stimuli. It works by using associations made in our subconscious, and most of the time these are unnoticeable to customers.
For example, a furniture store performed a ‘split’ test on customers to see if branding their website differently would affect their customers’ purchasing behaviour. On one landing page, they featured coins and on the other clouds.
As it turned out, the customers who saw the landing page featuring clouds bought a lounge that promoted exceptional softness and comfort. Those exposed to the landing page featuring coins bought lower-priced sofas. And more interestingly, many of the customers who were interviewed after their purchase could not recall either a cloud or penny background, and neither group believed the different backgrounds affected their decision.
The key lesson here? Use a combination of colour, language and image in your branding that primes your prospective customers to make positive associations with your products and then hopefully buy them!
#2 – Reciprocity
Introduced in Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, the concept of reciprocity is quite simple. If someone does something for you, most of us will naturally want to give back.
A straightforward example he gives was a staged situation of a waiter bringing the bill, complete with an after-dinner mint, to a diner. What he found was that diners automatically tipped according to their perceptions of the service given. So if given one mint, the tip jumped to around 4%, but with two, the tip jumped to roughly 20%.
In marketing, there are lots of ways to take advantage of reciprocity. It can be anything from a free e-book to a free trial or a sample of a product. However, the important thing to remember is that you give away the free item before you ask for something in return!
#3 – Social Proof
A common tool in marketing, social proof is the theory that people will adopt the actions or beliefs of a group of people they like or trust (or both). The idea is that since so many other people behave in a certain way, it must be the correct behaviour, and it’s often called the ‘me too’ effect. It’s a bit like a primary school dance – nobody wants to be the first one on the dance floor, but once a few people get up, everyone else wants to join in!
In terms of marketing, a good example is in the retail world. When shopping in-store, there is less outside influence on your decision because you can directly compare products like clothing – often by ‘feel’ and ‘fit’. However online, many of us prefer to rely on outside opinions or reviews before we make a decision. And even if you love your choice, many of us will still be swayed about other customers’ experiences because they seem more knowledgeable about the product.
#4 – The Decoy Effect
This technique is often seen in pricing models where one price point is intentionally included to entice you to choose the most expensive option. Behavioural economist Dan Ariely gives an excellent example in his infamous TED talk, Are we in control of our own decisions? He describes an ad from The Economist that outlined their latest subscription packages. They offered:
· Online subscription: $59
· Print subscription: $125
· Online and print subscription: $125
So, you get the print-only subscription and the online and print subscription for the same price? But why would they offer that? It turns out that the middle option provided a frame of reference for how ‘good’ the combination deal was and enticed people to pay more for it. And they did!
#5 – The Scarcity Concept
OK, so we’ve all fallen for this one. Ever gone to buy something and seen a tagline for a product along the lines of “Limited stock left. Don’t miss out!” That’s scarcity, and it’s another Cialdini concept. This psychology principle harps back to the simple formula of supply and demand – the rarer the product, content or opportunity is, the more valuable it is.
However, you do need to word this principle carefully. If you approach it from the point that there used to be a lot of a product, but due to popular demand, there’s only a few left, people will be receptive. But if you approach it from the angle of there were only a few products in the first place, so buy now, the principle won’t be as effective.
#6 – The Anchoring Concept
If you love shopping and wondered why it’s often hard to resist a sale at your favourite clothing store, you may just be falling for the old anchoring trick. This concept revolves around people basing decisions on the first piece of information they receive.
So for example, if your favourite clothing store typically retails jeans for $50, but on your next visit they are on sale for $35, you’ll probably be ecstatic at a great deal. However, if your friend typically shops for jeans that are $20, the effect obviously won’t be the same for them!
For marketers, anchoring is important, particularly in sales campaigns. However, you will need to clearly state the initial price of the product (which ‘sets’ the anchor), and then display the sale price next to it.
#7 – The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
Have you ever read or heard about a product for the first time and then you start seeing it everywhere you look? On TV, online, at the supermarket and then all of your friends seem to have it? This is known as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (also called ‘the frequency illusion’), and two processes cause it.
The first is ‘selection attention’, and this happens when you are struck by a new idea, word or product and after that, you unconsciously look out for it and find it surprisingly often! The second process is called ‘confirmation bias’ which reassures you that each new sighting is further proof of your impression that the ‘thing’ you keep seeing is widespread and/or constantly encountered.
For marketers, this phenomenon is precisely why brand presence, in particular, is incredibly important. Once people start noticing your brand, you’ll want to help them start seeing it ‘everywhere’. And a good method of achieving this is by ‘below the line advertising’ including targeted EDM’s (electronic direct mail), which can increase the possibility of them ‘converting’ or purchasing your product or service.
#8 – Verbatim Effect
This concept revolves around people being more likely to remember the gist of what someone has said, rather than specific details of what was said word-for-word. A simple example is the ‘telephone’ game you might have played as a kid. It’s where a group of people sit in a circle, and someone whispers a phrase into the next person’s ear. This continues until it gets to the last person. Typically, the phrase that was initially shared is quite different even though the meaning is essentially the same.
In terms of marketing, this concept can have a huge effect on how your content performs. This is partly because time-poor readers are spending less time reading lengthy content, particularly online. So if people aren’t reading all of your content and they aren’t likely to remember specific details either, what’s a marketer to do? Focus less on the precise wording and organisation of your content and more on how it makes readers feel. Writing compelling headline copy also helps!
#9 – Clustering Theory
People have a limited amount of space in their short-term memory, and to cope, most people tend to cluster similar pieces of information together. So for example, if you had a grocery list of random items, most people would mentally group items into specific categories (like dairy, meat, fruit and veg for example), to better remember what’s on the list.
When creating content, clustering can be used to increase memory retention. This can be achieved on a website, for example, by grouping similar topics together with different header sizes and using bullet points. Clustering can also be used to segment customer databases by factors including gender, age, demographic and buying behaviour. You can then tailor your communications to encourage engagement, address where customers are in the buying cycle, and position your product or service to meet a need or solve a problem. Typically, this will increase trust in your brand and possibly result in a purchase!
#10 – Loss Aversion Concept
Nobel Prize-winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky discovered the theory of loss aversion during their research on Prospect Theory. Loss aversion means pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Once someone has something, they often don’t want to lose it. And from a psychological perspective, it usually refers to people preferring to avoid loss rather than acquire gain.
In their study, participants were given either an object – chocolate or a mug – or nothing. They were then asked to make a choice and given two options. If they were given an object, they could trade that object. If they were given nothing, they could choose one of the two objects. The result? Roughly half of the participants who started with nothing picked a mug, but even more surprisingly 86 per cent of those given mugs stuck with them! What about the chocolate?
In terms of marketing, it can be challenging. Many marketers rely on urgency and the scarcity concept (mentioned above) to sell products. However, if customers think they can buy your product or service ‘tomorrow’ they have no reason to buy from you today.
For example, telling loyal customers, it’s their ‘last chance’ for a 30 per cent discount and a week later having a two-day sale for 40 per cent off probably won’t work. The reason? They won’t believe your first offer next time and will probably wait for a better offer later. Essentially, you have to make customers feel the pain of not taking action (‘loss aversion’) and make it real. Sell benefits hard, push for a decision and make your limited-time offers or sales infrequent.
Have a little more time on your hands due to COVID-19? Gain fascinating insights into what makes consumers’ minds tick with our Certificate of Marketing Psychology!