Want to know how to hook consumers? How to get them thinking that they need your product or service? Understanding the psychology behind consumer buying behavior will help you to do just that.

Video game manufacturers have a great grasp of this psychology. Since their birth in 1947, video games have developed into a totally new product, with a highly demanding following. They’ve grown from a single, measly game to a robust industry. In 2011, video game sales generated an estimated $25 billion. It certainly seems they’ve got something right.

Video games are successful because manufacturers have mastered the key concepts that keep gamers gaming. They know exactly how to hook them and keep them playing.

We can learn a lot from their methods, even if we’re not marketing video games. Certain video game strategies can help us hook consumers and keep them interested until they make a purchase.

Pressure to Purchase

Say you’re playing an arcade game. As your session comes close to its end, you’re given the option to insert more coins or finish your game. Not only are you warned to put more money into the machine, but you’re also told exactly how much time you have to do so. The little countdown clock builds pressure — pressure that can only be relieved by feeding the game more coins.

Apartment complexes and ticket sales are other places where you’ll see this concept in action. You call to ask about a one-bedroom and you’re told, “We only have one available.” You’re online perusing airfare tickets and you read, “Only two left at this price!”

Airline Ticket Pressure to Purchase

Much like the video game countdown reminding you of limited time, a limited quantity of bedrooms or tickets instills pressure in your customers to act immediately. By incorporating a small degree of pressure now, your customers aren’t likely to push the purchase to a later time. There’s no time to reconsider or to potentially forget about it. If a purchase must be dealt with now, much like inserting the coins, it will much more likely be done.

Immediate Gratification

Video game addiction, although a serious problem, can demonstrate the psychology of consumer buying behavior. How exactly do the games keep consumers glued to their controllers? After a consumer has completed a game, why does he buy another?

A recent study about video game addiction shows reasoning behind the get hooked, stay hooked nature of video games. The study states that video games tap into the reward acknowledgement part of our brains. Just as parents pat us on the back for deeds well done, video games give points and advance us through the levels.

Gamers are rewarded right away. They don’t have to wait to see their scores increase or their opponents fall from a shot to the head. When they do well, they’re told immediately. This taps into a very basic part of who we are as humans: Humans love immediate gratification.

Market your product in a way that gratifies the human need for immediate results. Explain to consumers how they can expect to experience a desired change right away if they buy your product by:

  • Writing persuasive copy
  • Including visuals
  • Incorporating personal testimonials
  • Offering linkage to an available customer service team

Provide an Escape

Often gamers are sucked into the video game world. Players mentally leave reality, sometimes without even noticing, and don’t rush to return. Like a cheap vacation in their own homes, video games provide gamers with a perceived escape.

Another study of video game users states that, in 2009, 41% of study participants claimed they gamed as a means of escape. If a product can provide a new identity – and invincibility – to users, why wouldn’t people love it?

Chevrolet recently launched a commercial for the Chevrolet Impala, marketing the car as “The New Sanctuary.” A young boy’s constant drumming seems inescapable to his parents. When the parents decide to go out for the night, they let out sighs of relief upon entering their soundproof Impala. This commercial effectively employs the concept of escapism, showing that the vehicle’s build provides its owners with a getaway.

Creatively utilize this concept in your marketing efforts. If consumers believe your product can provide them with an escape, even a temporary one, they will be more inclined to consider your product and purchase it.


Stay in the Social Circle

Peer pressure and social influence are huge factors in human buying patterns. Video games are unique because they are their own world in and of themselves, making “membership” even more real. Gamers can discuss gaming with others, granting them a feeling of inclusion.

This is yet another basic concept of humanity: we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. If humans can find a way to relate to others, they generally seize it. This is the psychology behind trends. Although not all trends are practical or even personally beneficial, they can become popular if they provide a means of relating to others.

Formulate a marketing campaign showing how your product can bring consumers together. If there is a promise of social connection, consumers will want it.

Although not all products will establish the immense following of video games, we can learn creative tactics that may help drive more sales. They have clearly mastered what it takes to market products, and now we can too.