Every purchase we make comes from some underlying buyer motives, whether or not we realize it.
Sometimes, these motivations are rational―we’re hungry, so let’s go buy a sandwich.
Sometimes, they’re emotional―I’m hungry, but I’m sad, so I’ll buy a sweet treat to make myself feel better.
Understanding the most common buying motives helps you make sense of consumer behavior.
It also makes it easier to sell products to potential customers, so if you’ve got a few online business ideas, think about the motivations behind why someone would buy your product.
What are the buyer motivations?
Let’s dive right into it.
Table of Contents
Buyer Motives 101
What is the emotional buying motive?
Buyer motives refer to the set of psychological factors at play when a customer purchases something. We call these factors the motive.
Before we can dive into what makes someone make a purchase, we must first understand the buyer’s journey―or the process a customer moves through that results in a purchase.
Stage 1: Problem/Want/Need Awareness
It’s at this stage the consumer determines they have an issue to solve. It could be something as simple as needing to purchase a lunch box, needing to buy homeowner’s insurance, or anything else.
Stage 2: Product or Service Consideration
After the customer is aware of their problem, want, or need, they move into gathering information. During this phase, regardless of the best buy motivation, they’re considering all the options available to them.
In the case of the lunch box, it may mean heading to the closest big box store and checking out what’s on the shelves. If they find nothing they like, it may mean visiting another store or shopping online.
With homeowner’s insurance, it means gathering insurance quotes from multiple companies.
To capture customers at this stage, sellers should provide as much product and service education as possible. Buying guides, product specs, reviews, etc. are all great.
Stage 3: Purchasing Decision
Customers make the final buying decisions. Here is where their needs are met. If the customer gets negative feedback from others―such as comments from a friend about their poor experience with that product―the buyer may still change his mind.
Most Common Buying Motives
With a better understanding of the buyer’s journey, let’s look at ten reasons people spend money on products and services.
The most common buying motives include:
Need is one of the most common buyer motives.
We buy food because we need to eat. We buy smoke protectors for our homes because we need them to feel safe.
Whenever a buyer believes your product will solve their need―they’re naturally more inclined to consider your offering.
Impulse or Excitement
Everyone falls victim to the impulse buy at some point or another.
That’s exactly why all the items are calling your name as you stand in the checkout line.
You don’t really need that candy bar or those fidget spinners… but marketing is out to get you (either directly or through your children).
Rarely do you buy something on sale that you were planning on buying at some point, anyway.
Pleasure or Reward
People will buy things they don’t need―but that they want―to reward themselves for a job well done.
They may also buy a “treat” for the pleasure of getting something new or to experience comfort and convenience.
These purchases are often rooted in hobbies and personal preferences.
For example, a crafter may purchase a new tool or items needed to create a new project.
The entire beauty industry (and some of the fitness industry) is built on vanity.
Look and feel better when you use our product!
Vanity is the driving factor behind things like cosmetics, hair styling products, and more. People buy them out of concern for the way they look.
Fear of Loss or Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Fear is a powerful motivator. It’s the fear of theft or break-in that drives a lot of security system purchases.
The fear of not fitting in with your friends and family can drive many purchases.
Fear of injury in a car accident may motivate you to buy the safest car on the market.
Many companies play on this fear―regardless of how unethical it may seem. When done correctly, however, you help put the buyer’s fears to rest.
As a buyer’s sales motivation, acceptance is the byproduct of FOMO.
People are interested in buying something because everyone else they know is buying it, too.
That’s the driving motivation behind most fads. Products or services gain steam, get fast interest, and suddenly have huge followings.
Remember the Beanie Baby craze?
Health and Wellness
Many of today’s customers are invested in taking action to keep themselves happy and healthy.
By positioning your product or service to demonstrate that it will help buyers live longer or better, you’ll encourage people to learn more.
To be successful with selling based on health, you need legit demonstration―don’t just tell.
Show and prove.
If you can show how your product addresses an urgent or otherwise relevant health concern, you’ll sell more.
This is common in the B2B space.
Many businesses invest in products or services that will help them make more money.
Though not as common in the B2C space, it may still serve as a motivator.
If you’re selling something that appreciates over time, so it can be sold for a profit for later (a house, collectibles, etc.) capitalize on this buyer motive.
Many people are driven by elevating their status in life and having what they feel are luxuries.
For many people, especially those living in an area where public transportation is limited, a car is a need.
But for some, they need a luxury car because of the features it has to offer. The luxury approach becomes the best buy motivation and is best reserved for those with higher disposable income.
Though not as common as some of the other psychological buying motives on this list, some buyers want to purchase products and services to defy others.
If you tell someone, you want to buy a convertible―and they tell you it’s not a good idea because you can’t afford it… how does it make you feel?
For some, it may be the rational thought you needed.
For others, it becomes a challenge.
And that challenge becomes a powerful driving force behind the purchase.
Understanding the reasons a customer may behave the way they do can go quite far toward making the sale. As much as we humans want to believe the decision-making process is always rational―it’s also quite emotional.
Positioning your eCommerce store and its products as a solution is one thing. Doing it in such a way that you can take advantage of a prospect’s sales motivation will bring in more sales.
Now that you know what the most common buying motives include, how are you planning to use them?
Darren has 15+ years of marketing experience for retail, manufacturing, and internet corporations. Darren has an MBA in Internet Marketing and is the Co-Founder of eCommerce CEO.