Purchasing Decisions And Psychology Behind It Explained – What drives buyers to get their wallets out?

"What's in it for me?" That is the number 1 question consumers ask when making purchasing decisions. How to answer that? How to know what do people want? The answer lies in [...]

April 26, 2017

9 min reading time

“What’s in it for me?”

That is the number 1 question consumers ask when making purchasing decisions.

How to answer that? How to know what do people want?

The answer lies in the core human brain and nature. Neuroscience and marketing have always been closely connected.

Do you know that there is a specific brain activity that makes you want to buy something?

Every person has some of the biologically programmed desires that nobody can rid off and later I will show exactly how they are driving those purchasing decisions.

Advertising today is mostly oriented on the wrong things. Ogilvy once stated that 99% of advertising doesn’t sell anything.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing Decisions - Efficiency man

In order to maximize your results and be effective, you should know exactly what your customers want, create an appeal, and push them to take action.

If you don’t know how to do that, you are in the right place. Just keep reading…


How misperception influences purchasing decisions?

Neuroscience and marketing always come hand in hand. The goal of marketing is to catch attention and initiate a reaction. Why? Because those things tap into your brain and create a memory that will ultimately lead to a purchase.

Have you ever heard of the Pepsi Challenge? In an independent research, consumers were asked to try 2 different beverages and decide which taste is better. They could choose between 3 options: Pepsi, Coca-Cola, undecided.

Guess who won? Probably Coke, right?

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing Decisions - CokevsPepsiSurprisingly, more that 50% of people preferred the taste of Pepsi over Coke.

Encouraged by this research PepsiCo. launched „Pepsi Challenge“ campaign in 1975. The campaign was a massive success and PepsiCo. managed to increase their market share, while Coca-Cola market share declined.

However, a decade ago, neuroscientist Read Montague posed a question: If people truly prefer Pepsi over Coke, why isn’t Pepsi dominating the market?

Montague conducted an experiment and concluded that the brain of his test subjects was recalling images and ideas from commercials and that the thoughts and emotions connected to the branding were overriding reactions to the actual quality of the product. They had their purchasing decisions influenced.

In 2004, he published his findings—and as a result, neuromarketing emerged as a new formal study in many prestige research facilities, like the one at Oxford University .


What are those innermost desires?

Big companies nowadays outsource their research to neuromarketing institutes where specialized psychologists try to fully understand customers and their purchasing decisions patterns.

Those people are highly paid to find out (and what purchase decision definition is):

  1.    What do people really want
  2.    What feelings they have about what they want
  3.    What are their actions towards what they want

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing Decisions - Jon Miller

And once you fully understand those factors you should be able to easily know these things:

  1.    Understand how to satisfy your consumers
  2.    Find new customers for your product
  3.    How to provide more added value

Now you should be one step closer to answering the most important question consumers ask:

What’s in it for me?

The majority of consumers just care about what your products are going to do for them and how they’ll make their lives better.

Psychologists and researchers have studied this subject for years and came up with the hypothesis that all purchasing decisions are made to satisfy some of basic human needs.

Udonis Digital Marketing - Purchasing Decisions - Robert Cialdini

Dr. Robert Cialdini, an expert in consumer psychology and science of persuasion, in his masterpiece Influence: Psychology of Persuasion , defined the basic human needs and 6 principles of social influence which drive people to buy.

These needs every human being should satisfy in one way or another. Cialdini’s work inspired other scientists and marketers to follow his footsteps.

One of them is the direct response marketer, Drew Eric Whitman, who used Cialdini’s work to redefine those principles into 8 basic human needs, today known as Life Force 8:

  1.    Survival and life extension
  2.    Enjoyment of food and beverages
  3.    Freedom from fear, pain, and danger
  4.    Sexual companionship
  5.    Comfortable living conditions
  6.    To be superior and winning
  7.    Care and protection of loved ones
  8.    Social approval


You don’t need to conduct studies based on these wishes. Who can argue with them?

An easy example of how Life Force 8 work in every day’s environment:

Let’s say, you go outside and it’s freezing cold, wouldn’t you like a nice warm winter jacket?

Or, maybe, after a long day at work, to lay down on a soft warm bed?

These desires are what makes us humans. There is nothing wrong with them.

Study the text behind the following two ads:

“Follow our proven method of losing weight and you’ll get into shape and be lean and sexy just in time for summer.”


 “You WILL see results in just 14 days!! So PLEASE only use our proven method of losing weight but only if you can handle all the attention and jealous stares you’ll get everywhere you go.”

The first example is the one that is mostly used today. Everybody assumes that getting lean and simple is the real benefit of the product. And it’s not.

The second ad text taps into the biologically programmed desires that every person struggling with weight loss have. They can’t escape them.

These needs are hard-wired into our brain. There is nothing more powerful than tapping into a desire you can’t get rid of.

Would you rather buy a pair of new shoes or get out of a burning car?

Most of the today’s advertising is wrongly focused on secondary human needs and factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions, like information, fashion and style, profit making etc.

Understanding LF8 and applying its basics principles in your ads can be quite effective because you appeal to people’s basic desires and create a drive that motivates them to take action based on those desires. You influence their purchasing decisions.

In other words, you’re selling, they’re buying.


Measurement of success in advertising is efficiency

Advertising nowadays is not oriented on ROI as much it should be.

As a result, the campaigns today are just pumped up money-eating beasts. For example, a person without any prior knowledge of marketing can put up a huge sum of money in Facebook ads.

In 99.99% of cases, doing that will end up in a financial disaster. But 0.01% of them succeed to survive and get a breakeven, or even win a small profit.

The most common advertising problem is efficiency. Not just the most common, but the biggest one as well.

So don’t waste any money and start getting the most out of your campaigns.

To maximize your results you need to know exactly what motivates your customers to spend their money and what purchasing decisions they make when they buy something.

If you don’t know, find someone who does. It is absolutely essential and might be the turning factor whether you succeed or fail.



The most effective way to get people interested is to create an appeal based on those LF 8 wants. You need to find out how your product or a service can be put into the context of fulfilling some of the basic human needs we talked about.

Humans are known as visual beings. That said, the best way to get their attention is to understand what drives your potential customers and make your ad visually appealing to them.

After they find out about your product you should proceed to the next step. Time to count money – right?


Arrrghrhrh!!! Wrong.

You still haven’t acquired those potential customers. You need to push them to take action. No matter how good your ad is, if it doesn’t cause people to take action – it’s a bad investment.

On the one hand, people are incredibly inert. But on the other hand, they want everything – now.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing decisions lazy peopleEverybody is lazy, but everybody expects others not to be lazy. See the paradox?

Use it to your advantage. Today’s digital world makes everything much easier for you to battle customer inertia. For example:

  •    Accept different payment methods (why not 10?)
  •    Offer several shipping options
  •    Offer gift-wrapping
  •    Offer insurance, guarantees, moneyback possibility
  •    Offer monthly payment plan
  •    Include webshop
  •    Offer perks
  •    Offer loyalty program
  •    Build your business presence on social media

Social media like Facebook lets you do the real magic today. Just find the right audience based on certain interests and let the ads do their job influencing purchasing decisions.

You can do so much more to attract your customers and don’t let them hassle about buying your product.

The fact is, if they have to hassle – they’ll go somewhere where they don’t.

Once you have them ready to buy your product, show them how easy is to buy from you.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing Decisions - Easy to buy


The last thing on my list. The job is not done when you actually sell.

You should always try to improve.

There isn’t the sincerest feedback then the from the people who actually bought your product.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing Decisions - Toll Free

Have you ever seen a toll-free number on the back of a Coca-Cola bottle? Why do you think the big companies want to deal with that?

It is all about the feedback and fully satisfying customers. Whatever your product is, you should get feedback information from the first-hand buyers in order to furtherly improve it.

Mistakes can happen but if you don’t establish your feedback system, people will not reach to you with the problem.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing Decisions - Good&Bad News

Which one has the greater effect? Good on the left or Bad on the right


Reach out to people through email, make a FB group called like „Kenny’s product owners“, get people exactly what they want and if nothing else works – offer a compensation.

Don’t let them regret purchasing decisions they made!

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing decisions warren

Let’s wrap things up…

To sum everything up, again, be aware of the things I mentioned above:

  1.    Most advertisers are poor at efficiency
  2.    Study your every day’s consumers
  3.    Thoroughly examine Life-Force 8
  4.    Find out how your product can be put into context of LF8
  5.    Visually demonstrate and get initial interest
  6.    Influence their purchasing decisions and push them to act
  7.    Get feedback and improve if needed

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Purchasing Decisions - EfficientAnd that is basically it. When you get down to it you will find it is not that hard, people are just not aware of it.

That is the main reason most advertisers are so inefficient.

Don’t be that guy. Get the maximum out of the minimum. Then scale. Then do it again.

Udonis Inc. conducts 300+ split tests every day. We share top insights only on our monthly newsletter.

Daniel Svelec

Director of Monetization at Udonis - responsible for finding ways to maximize revenue from a given asset. Also 3x Undisputed Udonis Office Chess Cup Champion!