Consumer Psychology

Speed Summary: Material Boys & Girls [Psychology of Shopping Report]

Psychology Today has put together a great report on the psychology of shopping; Material Girls, and Boys.  Top takeouts for digital marketers:

  • Help deal with ‘Retail Crash’ – no, we’re not talking retail sales slump, but the emotional low we often feel after shopping. During shopping jaunts, a brain area called the nucleus accumbens floods with dopamine, the same chemical that’s released during sex and cocaine use. It creates the ‘shoppers high’. But it doesn’t last, and emotions can crash post-shopping, making emotional aftercare important.  Takeout: don’t just say thank you to shoppers as they leave, give them something to look forward to – their next shopping opportunity with you
  • Segment your Shoppers: Brands live off consumerism, and the shopaholics that consumerism creates.  So meet the needs of the different types of extreme shoppers (Retailium Extremis), each with different needs
    • Emotional Shopaholics (Retailium dramaticus) – loves retail therapy, it’s about managing mood not buying stuff. For these shoppers you’re selling mood enhancement, not stuff
    • Bipolar Shopaholics (Retailium manicus) – intense bursts of shopping – without regard for consequences.  For these shoppers, your selling the splurge
    • Obsessive Shopaholics (Retailium obsessis) – driven by a desire for perfectionism – the perfect look, accessory or room.  For these shoppers, you’re selling peace that comes with the perfect find
  • Sell to Psychological Needs – The shopping that goes with a materialistic lifestyle is driven by a desire to alter our self-image. Specifically, it’s is associated with an inadequate sense of security, competence, relatedness, and autonomy.  Offer solutions to these problems, and you’ll sell more stuff
  • Comparison Shopping – we’re not talking website features that compare prices, but selling products that help people compare themselves favourably to others. Social comparison theory proposes that our sense of self is forged by evaluating our selves in comparison to others – in ‘downward social comparison’ we feel better about ourselves by comparing our lot to those less fortunate than us, in ‘upward social comparison’, we feel worse about ourselves by seeing someone else outdoing us.  Both can drive purchase.  Takeout:  Sell the idea that purchase will make you look better – in comparison to others…

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

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