Psychological Purchasing Triggers

Learn how psychological triggers influence consumer behaviour and explore effective strategies to harness their power in driving sales and conversions.

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard — 11 minute read.

The primary goal of all businesses is to sell their products and services to customers.

After all, the revenues generated from these sales are used to expand the business further. That is the reason why many businesses strive to maximise their sales numbers by any means necessary.

Psychological Purchasing Triggers

However, in their quest to increase sales, business owners need to remember one thing — properly motivating the buyers. Most will become annoyed if a brand tries to force its products on people by any means necessary. And many will even shun the brand entirely due to their aggressiveness.

This is where psychological purchasing triggers come into the picture. By using these tools, a brand can successfully persuade a person to become a paying customer, and that too, without resorting to cheap or aggressive sales tactics.

But what exactly are these psychological purchasing triggers? Well, that’s what this guide seeks to find out. Let’s get going, then!

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Understanding Psychological Purchasing Triggers

First and foremost, let’s delve into consumer psychology to understand what psychological triggers actually are. Also known as mental triggers or emotional triggers, these are things that affect our mental state. If we explain it from a purely psychological point of view, these triggers are usually events that evoke negative emotions.

That is because a mental or emotional trigger is often associated with a traumatic event that occurred in the past. Whenever the person encounters a trigger, they exhibit intense emotions.

However, in the domain of marketing, psychological triggers are not always associated with negative emotions. Instead, these triggers are used to create a strong but indirect need in customers’ minds. That, in turn, helps to influence their purchasing behaviour to benefit the seller or the marketer.

Psychological Triggers

To understand how these psychological triggers influence consumer behaviour, you need to understand how the mind actually works. We may consider ourselves logical and rational creatures, but that is not the case. That’s because a large part of our thought processes are driven by emotions and feelings rather than logic. In other words, we humans are more emotional than we tend to believe.

This emotional aspect of the mind is what psychological triggers try to exploit. Marketing strategies and ads that use psychological triggers resonate with our feelings and emotions so that we may feel connected to the brand. Businesses can inspire their customers to buy products and services by doing that.

Power Of Emotional Triggers

As we have suggested before, emotions can influence our decisions in a big way. And if emotions fuel the entire thought process, it can lead to impulse buying behaviour.

On that note, some emotions have a much more dominant effect on our decision-making than others. Below, we have discussed some of these potent emotional triggers.

1. Fear

Fear is a highly dominant emotion when it comes to decision-making. It can override logic and rationality completely and force us to act subconsciously. Because of this reason, it is one of the most leveraged emotional triggers in marketing. Specifically, businesses subtly use the fear of missing out (FOMO) to influence consumer decisions.

2. Guilt

Guilt is another strong emotion that influences thought processes and buying decisions. Marketers may try to provoke you into feeling guilty about your decisions. This is usually done by highlighting the positive impact of buying the marketed product or service. Naturally, the emotional trigger influences you to purchase to reduce your guilt.

3. Trust

Unlike the previous two emotions, trust aims to affect the mind positively. Brands use this emotional trigger to create a loyal consumer base. By promoting transparency and improving communications, the brand creates a positive reputation that eventually increases customer trust. However, gaining trust can be time-consuming, making managing this emotional trigger more challenging.

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4. Time

Time is an emotional trigger that persuades users to take quick action. By imposing a time limit on a certain product or service, brands can create a sense of urgency, significantly influencing consumer buying behaviour. Naturally, limited time to purchase anything triggers another emotion - FOMO - which eventually forces them to buy the product.

5. Value

There is little doubt about the fact that consumers want to get the best value from their purchases. So, if a brand can convince customers that its products and services have great value, it can successfully influence their decision-making process. Besides, if used correctly, this emotional trigger can be used to build trust among users, further reinforcing the customer’s buying decision.

6. Belonging

Humans are naturally social creatures, meaning we seek to belong wherever we go. The sense of belonging gives us validation and makes us feel important. It has a positive effect on the psyche, which makes it a strong emotional trigger. So, if a brand’s product or service can offer a sense of belonging, you will be tempted to try it.

7. Competition

Almost every human has a competitive side, so we strive to be better than the next person. A good marketing strategy seeks to utilise this aspect to drive sales. If it can pit people against each other in healthy competition, then people will take that opportunity and buy the product or service that will make them stand out.

Cognitive Biases And Decision-Making

This is another form of psychological trigger that affects our thought processes. Most people are exposed to a large volume of information on a daily basis. Cognitive biases simplify the decision making process, allowing people to navigate complex information using systematic filters. These filters are crucial in individual decision making and are based on preferences and opinions, meaning the final thought process deviates from being rational or objective and becomes subjective.

In simple words, cognitive biases allow us to believe what we want to believe. Marketers tend to use this subjectivity present in cognitive biases to drive sales. In that context, brands use different types of cognitive biases to influence the consumer’s decision-making process. We have discussed some of the most prominent ones below.

1. Loss Aversion Bias

The bias for loss aversion highlights how people fear losing something precious. They value this fear more than getting something new with almost the same worth. For example, if you have $100 in your wallet, your fear of losing that money will be much greater than the happiness of getting another $100.

A skilled marketer can use this bias to influence their target audience to buy a product or service. They can offer a free coupon or a free trial to use a product, which allows the consumer to try out the particular product without spending any money.

After using it for a while, they will start to feel they own the product. So, when the trial or coupon expires, they must purchase it to keep using it. One great example of this strategy can be observed in the case of antivirus software, which often comes with free trials. Once the trial period ends, many people end up purchasing the software.

2. Mere Exposure Effect

The mere exposure effect is another cognitive bias that determines the purchasing behaviour of consumers. It demonstrates that people tend to develop a preference for things that they are familiar with.

This means that if a person chooses between a familiar item and a new item, they will always choose the former, even if the latter item is objectively better. Because of this reason, it is known as the familiarity principle.

Big and renowned brands often use this bias to sell their products. This doesn’t mean smaller brands cannot use this strategy, though. More people will learn about them if they can expand their reach and improve visibility. And with time, they can build up familiarity among potential customers to a level where the mere exposure effect becomes useful.

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3. Bandwagon Effect

The bandwagon effect is another powerful cognitive bias that influences the conscious thought processes of users. It illustrates the tendency of an individual to engage in certain activities just because other people are doing them. In other words, their behaviour and thoughts are shaped by public opinion instead of their own.

Apple’s marketing strategy is one good example of the bandwagon effect in play. Since the brand and its products are popular among the majority, an individual may be tempted to buy an Apple product, even if they do not need it.

Even a smaller brand can use this bias to its advantage if it is fashionable enough. If it is marketed as flashy and glamorous, it will definitely attract the general public’s interest. Once it becomes popular and everybody starts talking about the brand, the bandwagon effect can drive sales.

4. Compromise Effect

The compromise effect is another cognitive bias marketing strategists use to drive sales. This effect highlights the tendency of people to go for a middle ground or “compromise” when presented with multiple extreme choices.

For example, let’s assume that there are three different products. The first product has a very low price, the second one has a moderate price, and the third has a high price. If you present these products to a consumer, they will likely choose the second product since it offers a good deal over the other two.

This means that if a brand can keep the prices and features of its products moderately balanced, then people will choose their products over other extreme options.

Social Influence And Social Proof

Social influence is a phenomenon where individual choices are shaped by what society thinks as a whole. If you have read through the discussion presented so far, you can easily explain why social skills and influence are regarded as potent psychological triggers.

However, not everyone is influenced by the mere opinions of others. Such individuals require a much more powerful trigger, or else their thought processes cannot be swayed. This is where social proof comes into the picture.

Emotional Triggers Influence Behaviour

Providing sufficient proof that your product or service is helpful and not just hyped up might raise their curiosity. This proof can be in the form of feedback from other users, certifications received by the product, and other similar acknowledgements.

For example, if you run an online store that sells a particular product, you can display testimonials, reviews and other user-generated content on the landing page. Furthermore, if the product has received any awards in the past, you can display that, too. All these things can be used as marketing materials, as strong social proof highlighting the usefulness of the item you offer.

Ethical Considerations In Using Psychological Triggers

Many consumers and marketing experts have expressed scepticism to the idea of using psychological triggers in marketing, and with good reasons. After all, these triggers aim to manipulate the thought processes of users emotionally. Because of that, there’s always an element of risk to it, and if used carelessly, there can be negative consequences.

That is why brands must follow all the relevant ethical considerations while using psychological triggers to avoid bad incidents. Below, we have discussed a few of the most important ethical considerations.

1. Practise Constraint

Businesses should always practise moral constraints when utilising psychological triggers. In other words, they should try to avoid using too many triggers simultaneously. Conversely, their triggers should not seem extreme or insensitive as that can be counterproductive.

2. Prioritise Ethical Behaviour As A Key Part Of The Marketing Process

Brands should prioritise ethical behaviours instead of focusing solely on performance metrics like conversion rates, sales and profits. They should avoid condoning immoral behaviour to make people buy their products.

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3. Maintain Transparency

Most businesses collect consumer data to identify market trends and implement suitable triggers catering to those trends. In this regard, brands should be transparent about the data they are collecting to build up consumer awareness. They should also prioritise data safety and privacy to avoid third-party manipulation.

Exploring the Psychology Behind Your Purchasing Decisions

If implemented correctly, psychological triggers can be highly useful, especially when building up brand image and boosting profit margins. And if it is combined with other forms of marketing strategies, such as digital marketing, it can work wonders for a company.

Of course, unethical implementation may have the opposite effect in the long run. If a brand is found to be immorally manipulating consumers for its own gain, it can have serious legal repercussions as well.

That is why it is a good idea for business owners to seek advice from qualified marketing professionals before implementing such triggers. These individuals can provide effective guidance so the company can achieve its financial goals.

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey is the CEO of sitecentre®, leading his distinguished Australian digital marketing agency using data analytics and Artificial Intelligence in SEO and Paid Advertising. His adept use of machine learning and AI has gained industry-wide recognition, Brodey has received several industry awards for SEO, Web Design and business, including the Young Small Business Champion Entrepreneur 2023 award. With 15 years under his belt, Brodey is amongst Australia’s most influential digital marketers.

Find them on their website: sitecentre®.

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