At the end of the day, we all just want to be loved...

Why Do People Buy What They Buy: Part two - basic human needs

Last week we looked at some of the tricks retailers do to convince us to buy. This week we’re looking at some of the basic human needs. Who cares about this? Marketing people do! When you get a handle on the things that motivate consumers (and that means all of us), it can help you shape your marketing messages. Marketing psychologists have identified fundamental human behaviours that drive us to buy.

Show me the money!

We all need money, we all want money - it’s an essential need. So marketing techniques that focus on saving money, or help you earn or win money are a magnet. One of the best examples of this is the meteoric popularity of

Feeling safe

We all have a fundamental need to feel safe and secure. This is about feeling worry free and that you and your loved ones are snug and cosy and safe. Insurance companies often drill into this in their marketing to deliberately make us feel insecure, with the idea that we will turn to them to buy more insurance products.

Being liked

Acceptance, respect and being liked by friends, family, colleagues and other people around us is a strong motivating factor. Feeling like we belong and that we are wanted is pivotal to our feelings of self-worth. So marketing techniques that focus on ‘buy this and you will be more popular’ are very strong.

Status and prestige

The luxury goods market taps into this in a big way. Think about car ads for luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes - their subliminal message is telling you that by driving this car, the world will perceive you as successful and influential. As customers, we want others to look up to us and admire our possessions or accomplishments. Many years ago a friend who was in the process of decorating a new home was keen to show off her newly decorated living room. “I love the coffee table,” I said. “It’s Ralph Lauren,” she replied. She went on to say, “I bought it because I liked it, not because it was Ralph Lauren.” Yet she felt compelled to tell the admiring gathering the brand name. There’s a little of that desire for status and prestige in all of us.

Health & Fitness

Vitamin and mineral supplements we never take, juicers and Nutribullets we use for a few weeks and then consign to the back of a cupboard, fitness equipment that ends up being used to hang coats on - how many of us have purchased products, or gym memberships to make us thinner, happier, fitter and more physically beautiful? The health and beauty industry is worth billions of pounds and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Being cool and on-trend

We like to feel that we’re up to date, or ahead of the curve. You might be familiar with the phrase ‘early adopters’. These are the people who will queue up all night outside the Apple store in Regent Street to be the first to get the latest iPhone. It’s all about being seen to be trendsetters or leaders or simply as ‘cool’.

Love and companionship

Apparently we’ll buy anything that promises to make us seem more lovable and more desirable to other people. The market for dating sites and friendship sites has become a $2billion marketplace, and plastic surgery, teeth whitening and other cosmetic items has grown like crazy to be worth $20 billion (2015) and is predicted to rise to over $27 billion by 2019.

Personal Development

Also called the personal growth market. This is another market that has gone crazy. The reason is that people need to feel the need to become all they are capable of being. Who would have thought 20 years ago that the Life Coaching market would become such a boom market? There are currently 150,000 Life Coaches practicing in the UK. In the US, the market is worth £2billion (I couldn’t find a market value for the UK) and it continues to grow. We are all obsessed with our personal goals and reaching our potential. Psychologists call it self-actualisation.

So there you have it. So from a marketing point of view, which of these basic human needs can you tap into to help sell our products or services?


jackie harrisComment