The Science of Persuasion: How to Influence Consumer Choice
How do you persuade someone to purchase a good or service? Marketing departments have been puzzling over how to influence people and how they react to efforts to influence their behaviour for decades. Psychology may contain the answers to these concerns.
Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, said at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association that “persuasion is no longer simply an art; it’s an out-and-out science.” “In fact, there is now a wealth of scientific knowledge on how, when, and why individuals consent to influence efforts.”
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What is consumer behavior?
Consumer behaviour is the study of what motivates people and organizations to buy certain goods and support particular brands. The primary areas of research in this field include psychology, behaviour, and motives.
The way a person reacts to an advertisement is heavily influenced by their own views, beliefs, and overall worldview.
Age, culture, occupation, background, and other audience demographics like these all have a significant impact on the interests and views of customers.
How a person shops depends on their social circles. Their purchasing decisions are influenced by their money, education, and social status.
How can marketing affect consumer behavior and decisions?
Consumer behaviour may be significantly influenced by marketing. Here are a few elements that support that achievement.
Audience’s emotional response:
Consumer responses are one of the reasons marketing strategies are successful. People will speak about your marketing initiatives more and more as a result of their responses. Additionally, consumers are more inclined to purchase your items and brand if they are spoken about more.
Brand imagery and messaging:
It’s a good idea to use images and word connections to draw attention to your business brand. For instance, if you want to appeal to young people, you may include memes and catchphrases in your marketing. As a result, your target market starts to relate your product to things they already consider to be cool and fashionable.
Marketing also significantly influences customer behaviour by arousing emotions like fear and nostalgia. For instance, your sentiments of brand loyalty may be influenced if a product is connected to specific companies, ideas, pictures, or music from your youth. On the other hand, if a marketing effort instils dread in you, you can be persuaded to purchase the item as a means of calming your worry and defending yourself.
What are current consumer behavior trends?
Knowing consumer trends makes it simpler to understand how to change customer behaviour. The behaviours and priorities of customers change along with companies. Ten years ago, consumer preferences were different from those of today, and they will be different in another ten. Keep in mind that customer behaviour patterns vary as you develop and improve your marketing plan.
In light of this, the following are some developments in consumer behaviour that will influence decisions in 2021:
The need for openness in the companies that consumers support has grown over the last several years. Nowadays, customers boycott and discard businesses with dubious practises or led by CEOs they don’t agree with ideologically. Customers are more inclined to support businesses that share their own personal values and views. To earn the confidence of their customers, businesses must be honest about their backgrounds and business operations.
People were compelled to remain inside their houses because to the COVID-19 shutdowns, which increased internet spending. That pattern is probably going to persist even with the constraints being removed. Companies must reach out to customers where they are, which is more often than not online. This entails establishing an easy-to-use online store that provides a satisfying user experience. Think about methods to influence customers both offline and online when creating tactics to change consumer behaviour.
Due to the prevalence of online commerce, many customers are worried about the security of their personal data. Consumers increasingly expect more anonymity; they don’t want a firm to know too much about them beyond what is required for the commercial transaction. Companies must accommodate customers who refuse to supply any information except that required for a transaction and meet them halfway. This could make it harder to persuade a particular individual, but demonstrating that your business follows this trend can encourage them to spend more.
Clean and green companies
Many individuals have serious concerns about climate change. Consumers want to have a role in undoing the harm being done to the environment. They are calling for more ecologically friendly businesses and will continue to do so in the future. Consumers that are interested in clean and green activities are often influenced by businesses that provide sustainable goods.
6 principles of influence
Years of study on social influence were compiled by Cialdini into six general concepts for comprehending efforts to change people’s behaviour. These concepts may be used by both organisations and consumers to better understand the inner workings of consumer behaviour and to identify the most effective solutions.
Humans often feel obligated to repay favours or show gratitude in return. For customers, this can include providing a cost-free sample or a sizable discount, for instance.
People are more inclined to persist with something once they get interested in it. This translates into building brand loyalty in the commercial world since once a customer starts using a product or service, they are more likely to decide to continue paying for it.
Others are likely to follow suit if more individuals choose to do something. Other customers are more inclined to buy into a brand when it can show that it is well-liked or that its customers are satisfied across a large client base.
An expert has a higher chance of being believed than a random person. Consequently, although groupthink is vital, converting new customers requires a credible expert who can attest to the value of a brand’s product or service.
It is more probable for people who are similar to the target customer to influence them to make a purchase. People who have comparable demographics with customers are far more persuasive than people who they believe to be quite different, whether that is in terms of race, socioeconomic status, religious preference, or even related hobbies.
People often want things that they believe are out of reach. Making a product or service appear rare or as if there won’t be any left if they don’t purchase right away often attracts customers and enhances the probability that they will buy.
With the use of these six influence principles, businesses may better navigate their prospective customers and increase sales. However, Cialdini cautioned against straddling the line between persuasion and manipulation since the latter might ultimately lead to catastrophe.
He remarked, “People, businesses, and marketers need to ask themselves if the concept of influence is inherent in the circumstance – that is, do they have to create it, or can they just unearth it?” “Nobody wants to be an influence smuggler. Making false claims of expertise or abusing one’s position of authority will have detrimental effects ultimately.
When trying to persuade people to accept our offers and ideas, we sometimes place too much emphasis on economic considerations, according to Cialdini. We would be wise to take into account using psychological motivators like those we have discussed here.