The Psychology Of People’s Buying Behavior

Have you ever wondered, why some people buy Coca Cola over Pepsi? Or, why some people prefer Lay’s chips over Old Dutch? The subtle flavor variation between different brands may play a role in their decision-making, but something else also hugely affects it. It is the marketing psychology of people’s buying behavior. In this article, we will go over what you need to know about consumer psychology and how you can utilize it to make more sales.

What Is Psychology of Buying Behavior?

The psychology of buying behavior, also known as consumer behavior, is the study of why people buy goods and services. Psychologists explore the underlying cognitive process that attempts to explain consumer’s choices and how they respond to the influence of marketing, as well as other external factors such as income, culture, family, etc.

For the most part, consumer behavior goes something like this:

  1. Consumers recognize the fact that they are in need or want of a certain product.
  2. Consumers will find out whereto get the product, how much it costs, when to buy, etc.
  3. Once they are satisfied with the information they found, they will make the decision to purchase.

Of course, this process is oversimplified because people’s buying behavior is influenced by many things that quietly work in the background. The behavior and decision-making can be altered even withthe slightest change in surrounding environment or within the consumers themselves.

4 External Factors That Affect People’s Buying Behavior

1. Reference Groups

A reference group is a group to which the consumer associates their buying choices with. The group can be their family, friends, coworkers, and people within the same niche. Reference groups have a huge impact across different products that affect their buying decisions. For example, a popular reference group is those who love Starbucks coffee. Every time this popular coffee chain introduces a new drink, everyone within the same group will want to buy it. It’s not necessarily because they just want to try the new drink but also because they want to feel recognized and belonged that they are part of the group.

2. Social Class

A lot of us like to buy certain products to show that we are from a specific social class. The most obvious example would be luxury goods. Some people may not even be part of the upper class, but because they want to appear that way, they like to buy expensive items. It’s a status symbol that says “we are from this social class”. When you want to sell your products and services to consumers within a social class, you have to understand their buying behaviors and that members within the same social class will probably act similarly.

3. Age

Consumers will have different motivations and behavior as they age. It’s good to know what age group your target audience falls in so you can understand their interests. For example, many baby boomers like to buy home décor, household cleaning products, or anything that can enhance their home experience because they’re at that age where they usually already own a home.

4. Occupation

The occupation of a consumer can also determine what their final purchase is. You may think Apple only has one type of consumer, but in fact, they have many. Their consumers could be doctors, teachers, designers, students etc., and they all have different reasons on why they want to buy an Apple product. Apple can then strategize their marketing campaigns accordingly.

3 Ways To Use Psychology of Consumer Behavior

There are many ways to make use of psychology of consumer behavior, but we don’t want to bore you to death with all of them. Here, we have 3 different ones that are quick and easy to apply into your ecommerce business.

1. Color Psychology

Color plays a huge role in how your business is perceived. Whether you’re a retail brand that’s trying to connect to a young crowd or a fishing gear store that’s trying to demonstrate professionalism and expertise, colors can help you attract your ideal customers. Depending on how you want to portray your brand, you want to choose colors that align with your business goals.

What each color means:

  • Red – Associated with excitement, energy, and action. Ever wondered why the notifications from our phones are always red? It’s meant to capture your attention. The iconic color of McDonald’s is also red because it means energy, which stimulates hunger.
  • Yellow – Associated with happiness, positivity, and optimism. Yellow is used by brands like Ikea and Best Buy. Getting furniture and electronics is a milestone filled with optimism about the future of your home.
  • Green – Associated with nature, money, growth, and fertility. Many brands that sell gardening tools will have the color green in a lot of their products because it lines with landscaping and lawn care. Businesses in the food industry like Starbucks, Subway, and Wholefoods also have green in their branding because they want to present themselves as eco-friendly companies.
  • Blue – Associated withst ability, peace, and trust. We see brands like Visa, Oral B, and Samsung use blue in their marketing. A lot of major corporations choosed this color because it builds security and reliability with their products and services.
  • Purple – Associated with loyalty, luxury, and wisdom. Brands like Hallmark and Cadbury use purple to distinguish themselves as unique and one of a kind. Some may feel purple is too strong of a color if you use it in everything, so you can just use it as an accent color in your marketing strategies.

2. Emotional Persuasion

Advertisers like to use stories to market whatever they’re selling. This is a form of emotional persuasion because an engaging story has its highs and lows, bringing the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. A customer’s purchase is often influenced by emotions. We see alcohol advertisement use this tactic all the time, where this alcoholic drink promises a good time with your friends at a party. Stories are great because they allow the audience to imagine themselves as part of the story, seeing the problem face to face and finding solutions in your products.

3. Impulse Purchases

Impulse purchases occur the most in low priced items. It involves a sudden decision to purchase with little thought processing. An example of this would be the impulse purchase at a grocery store while lining up for the cashier and you see little snacks of chocolate bars on the side. For ecommerce, this could happen during upsells and cross-sells on the checkout page. You can also manipulate customer’s limited decision making on the product page by adding a countdown timer to create urgency, as well as having pop-up notifications on your website that shows recent activities of other customers. The less time you give customer to think, the more likely that they’ll make the purchase.


The more you understand the in’s and out’s of consumer behavior, the more effective you’ll be as a marketer. Mastering this skill will greatly affect your business and your relationships with customers.We hope that this article allowed you to have a better grasp of the psychology of buying behavior and how you can use it to your advantage.