Psychological Factors Affecting Consumer Behavior with Examples

In this article, we are going to understand what are the psychological factors that influence consumer buying behavior?

In the previous article, we have already discussed the five major factors such as environmental factors, societal factors, cultural factors, aspirational groups and personal factors that are influencing consumer behavior.

Next, we're going to discuss a few other elements which are generally heard of, but we need to have a deeper understanding of those as well.

Psychological Factors Affecting Consumer Behavior with Examples

There are five extremely critical psychological factors that the customer goes through in arriving at a product purchase decision. First of these elements is what we call motivation.

Psychological Factors Affecting Consumer Behavior

1. Motivation

What is the motivation? Motivation is when the customer has a very strong drive to purchase a certain product and fulfill the need associated with it.

Now, we discussed what needs are. Needs are basic human necessities. Needs could be biogenic needs or psychogenic needs. Biogenic needs are those that are required for your survival.

Psychogenic needs are things that are required for you to feel complete, feel happy. So there are different motives that drive customers to make purchase decisions in the marketplace.

Say, for example, the need for hunger. Once the need for hunger or need for food gets beyond a certain point, you will be extremely motivated to purchase a food item or go to a restaurant or have a burger.

When you have an extreme need to associate with a certain reference group or with a certain aspirational group, you will consume a product which associates with that aspirational group.

The second important thing that you would have commonly heard is perception.

2. Perception

What is perception? Now, perception is where the customers collect a lot of information, organize this information and try to paint a picture of what the world is according to them.

Now, everybody has a certain perception of how the world is.

Now even products and services that we offer to become part of this perception of the customer.

Remember, when we discussed positioning, there are points of differentiation and points of parity where-in we're trying to create an image of what our product or service is, in the customer's mind.

We are essentially trying to create a perception in the customer's mind. This perception is very important because many times it is this perception that drives the customer to either choose your product or to choose the competitors' product.

Now, this perception is created by the kind of information that you provide to customers, the kind of offerings that you provide to customers, the kind of things the customer hears about your product or services from other people that they are associated with.

Now, not all information that you provide to the customer is always understood by the customer. The customer has a very selective span of attention.

3. Selective Attention

The customer only pays attention to things that the customer is interested in. Say, for example, you might not always pay attention to an advertisement about, say, for example, a nutritional health drink. But if you are on a diet, you'll start paying attention to a healthy nutritional drink advertisement. This is what we call selective attention.

Now, selective attention is critical because you have to understand that not everybody is going to be attentive about what you provide.

The next case is selective distortion.

4. Selective Distortion

Not everything that you provide to the customer or not all information that you provide to the customer is always accepted and memorized in a way that you provide to the customer. The customer has a method by which the customer now starts distorting facts that you provide with only understanding things in the way that the customer wants to understand.

So in many cases, you will have to be very clear to the customer and tell the customer very clearly because otherwise, the customer has a way of being biased in certain directions whereby they might want to distort information that you provide.

5. Selective Retention

The third element is the fact that the customer doesn't always remember everything that you show the customer, the customer has selective retention.

The customer is only going to retain information that you provide to the customer about things that the customer is so interested in.

You might remember advertisements which are extremely interesting, extremely new, extremely exciting, something that is novel, and something that you've not seen. Other advertisements which are generic out there, advertisements which are very commonly seen, you might not remember.

Now, there are some elements of content that make it interesting enough to be retained in your memory. So this is what we generally say selective retention.


So, selective attention, selective distortion, and selective retention, all three are extremely important in how the customer learns and how customer retains things in their memory because every experience that the customer has in the market place helps the customer learn a few things.

If you consume a product and the product ends up being not so great, you will realize and you will learn that this product is not so great. That will stop you from considering this product in your subsequent purchase additions.

If you go to a certain place in the market and buy a product, the product ends up being counterfeit. You realize that such marketplaces or such places in the market where you get products are not good, are risky in certain ways, and all of this learning that you have is somewhere encoded into your memory.

So every time the customer now has to make a purchase decision, there is certain retrieval of this information from the memory which helps the customer in making decisions.

So motivations and perceptions are extremely critical, and perceptions are what, as marketers, we try to create in the marketplace.

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