How do brains make buying decisions?

By our content partners, Turtl

Think about what made you click on this article. You probably had an idea about the type of information you might learn, and how this could be used in your day to day life. Maybe you imagined telling your friends or colleagues about it later. One thing’s for sure - your brain had already made the decision seven seconds before you were aware of it.

Our conscious brain lives seven seconds in the past. That means that every decision you’ve ever made was already made by your mind shortly before you realized it. You might imagine that you arrived at a conclusion using carefully considered logic and sound reasoning. But in reality, your brain is way ahead of you. Cool stuff.

So if we’re not aware of the moment our brain makes a decision, how can we know what’s truly driving every choice we make? Is there anything that makes us psychologically more likely to choose one thing over another? And finally, is there anything that marketers can tap into to encourage brain decisions?

Psychological reasons for purchase vs. purchase drivers

Let’s rewind to seven seconds ago. Both sides of the brain, the left - commonly associated with logical and analytical decisions, and the right - broadly associated with intuition and creativity - are responsible for working together to make decisions. We often like to imagine that our choices are rational and logical, but in reality, emotions are just as crucial in every choice we make. In fact, emotions are behind the psychological reason for purchase - which is what our brains are motivated by when we make a choice.

So what’s the psychological reason for purchasing - or reading - this article? You might think it’s wanting to learn more, develop your skills, or expand your knowledge of psychology. These are unlikely to be the core reason, however, and instead are what’s known as purchase drivers. Unlike psychological reasons for purchase, purchase drivers are conscious decisions the brain makes to justify our particular choices after the fact.

Research tells us that the psychological reason for purchase usually has an emotional root. That means that, in this case, an emotive driver like wanting to stand out from the crowd might be your reason for reading this post. The emotional gratification from standing out is likely to be your primary motivator, and expanding your knowledge your secondary purchase driver.

In real-life buying situations

Let’s apply this to a buying scenario and think about deciding to purchase a new mattress. Imagine that there are two very similar mattresses, one expensive from a renowned designer brand and a cheaper alternative which is unbranded. Your purchase drivers might be that the more expensive mattress is from a company with a good reputation, and that a higher price may ensure a higher quality. The psychological reason for purchase however, might be that aligning yourself with a particular designing brand may bring a sense of social capital and satisfaction.

In marketing

Psychological reasons for purchase are your audience’s emotionally-charged decision motivators. That means that marketers should try to figure out exactly what the reason is for their particular product or service, and maximize on this for their advertising and targeting. How do you find out what your main psychological reason for purchase is?

Try to pinpoint exactly:

●    What your purchase drivers are
●    Which cognitive biases might be at play
●    What are the barriers for your message getting through
●    What emotions are likely to be associated with your service

Keen to find out more about marketing psychology? Check out our guide here.