7 reasons people buy

Since money isn’t easy to come by, what makes us part with it?  And if we decide to make a purchase of anyWoman buying wine at the supermarket kind, why do we choose one product or service over another?  There are mountains of research on these questions, but since you may have even less time than money, we’ve condensed a lot of answers into 7 reasons people buy. Here they are:


  1. Scarcity

First, we buy to meet our basic needs; things to fulfill what Maslow describes as the foundation of his hierarchy,  like food and shelter. Or the purchase may be compulsory, like school books, uniforms, or even a car that will sustain a rigorous commute. Oh, and then there’s the need for an emergency plumber. Or it could be potential scarcity:  something that may run out  in the future.

If you don’t realize you have a need, as marketers will help stimulate that understanding!

  1. Swagger

Often we buy for esteem-related reasons; to create prestige or bragging-rights. Sometimes we make a purchases to impress or attract the opposite sex, to have something better or bigger than friends or associates.  We may want to look like an expert or aficionado, or to meet a standard of social status.

Peer Pressure –We purchase because your friends want us to. (You may need to think back to your teen years to think of an example).

Fad or Innovation – We are often drawn to the latest and greatest new thing.

We like to feel that we are unique and not “just like everyone else.” This, of course, isn’t true: as human beings, we’re more alike in our buying behavior than we realize. However, customers want to appear as if they each, individually, make unique buying decisions different from their peers.

  1. Fear

From stun guns to over-sized SUV’s to backyard bomb shelters–and even stuff so basic as a tire pressure gauge–are bought out of fear. You may be more comfortable calling this caution or preparation.  There is a lot of fear in the purchase of healthy, organic foods, which if you read the list of chemicals in typical packaged goods, may justify the fear!

  1. Significance

We may buy to try to replace things we cannot have and never will. It’s aspirational or even fantasy. Filling a void caused by loss, disappointment or rejection. This can lead to fanciful purchase, or more darkly, to addictions.

Even a small amount of choice may provide a greater sense of well-being. Several studies showed that when participants were given a choice versus being told what to do, those who were given a choice (even the smallest, simplest of choices, like which night to watch a movie), felt better about the situation.

At times, we make purchases that help bond us to a cultural, religious or community affiliation–maybe as an alumnus of a prestigious school or as a Blackhawks fan (that’s mine and I have the attire to prove it).

The desire for significance is one reason that in the interaction of seller and buyer, building and honoring relationships is so important. That’s why we emphasize the need to optimize relationships at every point of contact, and to always keep your promises.

  1. Sloth [noun: 1. habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness.]

We are a lazy yet impatient people! We need something now and will take the easiest and fastest path to get it. Recently I purchased a new lawnmower, which presented a number of questions that tested my energy level:  Can I justify the power mower (yes certainly), or the self-propelled mower (well, that would be helpful), or the rider mower (no, not this time, but…). When I was a kid, I had to use a push mower—as in no motor. (I know; I’m aging myself).

Today, we certainly wouldn’t choose to roll down a window manually in a car! Or walk across the room to change channels. We make a lot of decisions today to avoid leaving home or waiting more than a few days for delivery.  The need to purchase something to increase comfort or efficiency is a major driver.

  1. Value

If we find what we believe is a great value, we’ll make purchases more quickly, even if we hadn’t identified the need or been prompted by other emotions. The components of perceived value:

Lower prices:  Something you identified earlier as a want is now a lower price and it becomes a ‘must-have.’ Maybe you were browsing for a particular large screen TV and you saw a great summer special.  The most important feature driving purchasing decisions  is competitive pricing (80%).

Quality:  Another top factor driving purchasing decision is product quality (56%).

Name Recognition: When we’re purchasing in a category that we are unfamiliar with, branding plays a big role. For everyday purchases, we will consider only a limited number of brands when making our choice; those that we at least know by name.

Benefits: We are often looking for solid, reliable and tangible information that will allow us to make choices. If suppliers provide concrete information and proof of the product features, it adds value compared to competitors and and it will have a positive influence in the decision making process.

  1. Indulgence

Who doesn’t deserve a bit of luxury now and then? As long as we can afford it, sometimes there’s no better justification for that hour-long massage, dinner at the top-rated restaurant in town, or the upgrade package than:  “we’re worth it.”


As a consumer, can you see how these factors influence your purchasing decisions?  As a supplier, how are you creating products or structuring your marketing to address these real-life emotional drivers?



“Consumer Behavior: How People Make Buying Decisions”,

Self Employed Success blog

Why Do People Buy? Top 10 Factors That Influence Purchase Decision: Blogspot.com

5 Stages of the Consumer Buying Decision Process: The Consumer Factor

What Makes People Buy? 20 Reasons Why


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