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Every small business owner knows the disappointment of receiving compliments instead of sales. By learning about what motivates purchases, you can improve your bottom line while helping shoppers get what they really want.

Consumer buying behavior is not rational. Consumers manifest all kinds of reasons why a purchase makes sense, but buying is essentially emotional. If that wasn’t the truth, “retail therapy” wouldn’t be so empowering. Even when a shopper is looking over features and specs, they are really experiencing how those facts make them feel about the item.

With that being said, if you want to increase your payments, be mindful of these 5 reasons why customers choose to buy so you can use them to your advantage when marketing your products and services.

1. Necessity

Psychologist Abraham Maslow famously established a hierarchy pyramid of needs: survival, security, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Present items to meet these needs and people will be motivated to buy them.

Start by identifying a common problem that your audience is facing and use your product or service to provide the solution. In a sense, you’ll have to get sales (as long as you market accurately) because people will need what you’re selling for their everyday lives.

2. Convenience

The world is increasingly stressed out and people purchase items for relief and decompression. That being said, while your product or service may not be a necessity, it can be a convenience and people love convenient things.

This is why we buy fast food after a long and rough day because of it easier. If you can find a way to make people’s lives easier and less stressful, you’ll be well on your way to getting them to buy from you.

3. Identity

People are motivated to buy things that demonstrate they are part of a niche identity, like college students or foodies. People want to connect (sometimes emotionally) with a product before making a purchase. What better way to prompt that connection than by targeting a specific audience and focusing on how they identify themselves?

You can also emphasize the cultural implications of popular items, such as celebrities who use them. Though celebrity selling is becoming a tactic of the past.

4. Obligation

Giveaways do more than let consumers realize how much they like an item. They activate a subtle suggestion of reciprocity. Many people will feel as though they are in debt until they buy something in return.

You can also play on logical fear to sell by letting prospects know what’s at risk if they don’t buy your product or service. If you’re a web designer, for example, it could be something as simple as warning people that they won’t come off as a true professional without a quality mobile-friendly site which can lead to them not gaining the full trust of their audience.

5. Hope

Psychologists report that people buy things that encourage an idealized version of their lives, so encourage optimistic viewpoints.

I experienced this as a consumer when I recently paid for a health and nutrition program with the hope of losing some more weight and getting back in shape. Use your products and services to demonstrate a positive result or good outcome that can be expected.


If your business involves selling of any kind, you must understand the many reasons why people choose to buy something. Use these reasons to your advantage and as an angle for your marketing.

That being said, you don’t want to use deceptive marketing and make false promises, but you can play on the value of your product and clearly spell out why people should consider buying from you.

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