Freelance Ui/UX Designer
With over 15 years of experience

Meet My New Therapist…American Express

How does a brand look past the demographic? My consumer really can’t be as one-dimensional as the 35- to -55 year old male living in a preferred ZIP code, can he? Maybe we need to dig deeper. How does a consumer’s personality and environment affect his or her purchasing decisions?

Enter Consumer Psychology.

There are so many questions, that we, as curious people, can ask to determine what truly motivates them. Think about how thoughtful or robotic people can be in their purchasing decisions. Does a consumer’s friends, family, or geographical location affect their purchasing behavior?

For example, let’s take a typical American shopper’s solution for better mental health. Basically, many of us believe that we can shop ourselves into a better mood. As shallow as that seems, I won’t lie, I’ve done it.

Remember hearing you can’t buy happiness? Well, as it turns out, you can. Think about it. Something in your life has started to spiral out of control; maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s work, maybe you’re just looking for a higher purpose. One Band-Aid (yes, Band-Aid, this is a temporary fix) that can be placed over that feeling is to put yourself into a controlled, win-win environment. You go  to the mall, your mind is immediately off of whatever has been bugging you (win) and you walk away with something new (win).

You are now back in control…and that’s the insight we need to understand as a marketer. It doesn’t matter as much that this shopper (okay, me) fits our demographic. What matters is what drives his purchase. And we need to understand that because he is fueling (or not) our brand’s growth.

You can find studies on “retail-therapy” all over the internet. One of the most popular studies was done at the University of Michigan and is titled, “The Benefits of Retail Therapy: Choosing to Buy Reduces Residual Sadness.”

Human beings want to feel in control. Probably because we’re constantly being reminded how powerless we are. Think about all the tragedies you come across almost daily; Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon bombings, a kid shot close to home. Local tragedies, national tragedies, economic struggles, environmental issues. It goes on and on. We feel out of control and it saddens us.

These powerless-feeling people are your customers. So why not make it part of your job to give them back some of that control? By passing along this empowerment, you’ll be creating a connection — a connection between a brand and a new-found, devoted, life-long customer.

That, to this marketer, is “retail therapy.” Bring power and control to your customers. Don’t just deliver what your demographic research tells you to. Use consumer psychology to build a relationship with your customers.

The bonus? You’ll be pulling a bunch of people out of a bad mood and into a good one. Come on marketers, doesn’t that feel good?

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