Marketing your brand: The Psychology of Persuasion and Purchasing Decisions


In a world where we are inundated by choice, and are bombarded by marketing messages on a daily basis that try to persuade us to 'buy, buy, buy!' it is no surprise that many of us have learned to turn a deaf ear to the propagators of these messages.

With consumers becoming more and more desensitised to the effects of marketing and PR, we investigate how companies should approach the issue of convincing people to choose their brands?

When_marketing_your_brand_psychology_can_be_a_valuable_assetThe key to doing this is in remembering that we (yes, us humans) are not as autonomous as we would like to think we are. While we would like to think of ourselves as logical, conscious beings that are completely capable of making analytical and rational decisions, keeping in line with the model of homo economicus, the reality is that we are very much affected by external influences, as well as our typically irrational emotions.

As consumers, we often tend to base our purchases on how we feel at the moment, and then proceed to justify these purchases later on with logic.

Keeping this in mind, here are some tips to enhance your campaigns and persuade consumers to choose your brands:


  1. Desirability: A key tool to driving sales is to get people to want your product, service or cause. When consumers are convinced that they need your product in their lives, half the battle is won. Find a way to eliminate any logical reasons as to why they shouldn't buy your product and you're good to go. 
  1. Exclusivity: What do the new iPhone 5s, Cult51 anti-ageing cream, and Birkin handbags have in common? They are all extremely exclusive. The fact that these products all boast long waiting lists has made them all the more desirable to consumers, creating a bit of a cult following around them and further driving demand. 
  1. Scarcity: Similar to exclusivity, creating a limited supply of your products can help to boost the demand for them. Popular special edition items are often snapped up immediately after they are launched, as consumers are given more of a reason to spend their money on these limited supply goods that are unlikely to stay on the market for long. 

Take the Bugatti Veyron for instance. The guys behind Bugatti designed an extremely limited edition of the Bugatti Veyron - The Bugatti Veyron Pur Sang. There are only 5 Pur Sangs worldwide, and all 5 cars were sold out within the first 24 hours of its unveiling. 

  1. Urgency: Another way to encourage spending is to use time limits to create a sense of urgency. Typically, an offer of some sort will run out or expire after a certain time. Unfortunately, certain marketers use urgency in a sloppy attempt to pressure or push people into purchasing (like the never-ending DFS sale), causing many consumers to consider these time constraints as a bit of a gimmick. It is always good to use this sparingly so as not to lose credibility with your customers. 
  1. Variety: Contrary to  the popular idiom 'the more the merrier' too much choice can often be paralysing for consumers. While it may seem like a good idea to provide consumers with a huge variety to pick from, studies by an American psychologist, Barry Schwartz, have shown that people get stressed (and depressed) when faced with too much choice. Instead of making a decision, we end up overwhelmed and often give up on even choosing anything at all. 

marketing_your_brand_can_be__difficult_via_traditional_advertising_aloneAn interesting study of how paralysing choice can be was conducted in 1995 by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University. Two booths were set up in a supermarket, providing samples from a selection of jams, with the experimental factor being the number of different jams at each booth - six jams versus an astounding 24 jams. On average, customers who stopped by the booths sampled two different jams each, regardless of whether they had a choice of six or 24 jams.

Researchers found:

"More customers were enticed by the booth that had a selection of 24 jams over the booth with six. However only 3% of those who sampled jam from the selection of 24 jams ended up purchasing a jar. Conversely, 30% of the customers who visited the booth with the lesser selection decided to purchase a jar."

Ultimately, this study raises the hypothesis that while more choice may seem to be attractive in theory, it is actually paralysing for customers, and they are unlikely to end up purchasing at all.

Finally, it is worth giving some thought as to what consumers think about your brand. Studies have shown that customers tend to lean towards purchasing from brands that they know and trust, rather than risk trying something new that they might not like. Building upon your brand and standing for something good can increase positive feelings with customers, which then can help to boost your market share.

Your turn.

What's your experience when it comes to marketing your brand? Do you have any top tips you'd like to share or do you think we've missed out anything vital? If so, don't be a stranger and leave us a comment - we're always keen to hear what you have to say!

And, if you'd like to hear more about how we can help you promote your brand, don't hesitate to get in touch with RDPR today.

Samantha Lim is a University at Buffalo (SUNY) graduate, with a bachelor's degree in Communications and Psychology. With a background firmly grounded in media, she is currently seeking a career in PR and marketing, though she would be perfectly content being a best-selling author. She just hasn't written a book yet. 


Images used courtesy of Markdow on DeviantArt and T.Gibbison on Flickr.


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