How Psychology Influences Customer Behavior In the Marketplace


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Marketing for businesses is the practice of manipulating consumer behavior. Companies try to show that their brand is better than the other brands, or that their product is worth the cost, or that their service is a better deal than the other company’s service. In doing so, they increase the likelihood that the customer will choose to purchase their product, brand, or service.

But understanding how psychology can be used to convince customers to move from “maybe” to “sold” can help support a business over time. These four consumer behaviors are key to properly position your product in the marketplace.

Understanding Purchase Type

In general, there are two types of purchases that customers make: considered purchases and impulse buys. A considered purchase is something that consumers will put a great deal of thought and research into, while impulse buys are made much more quickly. Some marketers think of these as rigid categories; a new washing machine is always a considered purchase, whereas a new DVD is always an impulse buy.

When we drill down into a specific audience group, however, we can see that this may not be true. A tired new parent with enough disposable income might make an impulse purchase of a new washer and dryer set if they believe it will reduce their laundry workload, while they might hesitate before they spend $20 on a new DVD, wondering when they’ll find the time to sit down and watch the movie with their spouse.

When you consider whether your item is an impulse buy or not, start by thinking through your specific ideal customer, and their interest level and pain points in your industry.

Understanding Accountability

Every company missteps sometimes. A restaurant makes a bad decision about customer service, or a famous brand makes an insensitive ad, or a public figure says something inappropriate into a hot mic. The instinct for many people is to pretend it never happened or to blame someone else. The public, however, vastly prefers accountability.

Companies that say there was a mistake, explain clearly what the mistake was and why it happened, and take steps to keep it from happening again, generally see a better rebound in public opinion than those who try to defer responsibility.

In order to keep consumers happy with your brand and services, make sure that when mistakes happen in public, they are addressed and apologized for in public. And then make sure that whatever caused the misstep is fixed, so that it does not happen again.

Understanding Follow-Up As Motivation

Are selling and marketing getting easier? In marketing, customers often respond to a “call to action,” a closing note in advertisements, commercials, and content writing where customers are encouraged to take the next step. This might be contacting the company for a quote, downloading a free ebook that explains more about the product and how it can benefit the customer, or choosing from several different printables which can benefit the consumer.

The best calls to action include clear and specific instructions for follow-up. For example:

• “Call us today!” can be improved to “Call us today at (phone number) for a free quote on your product”.
• “Download our new ebook” works better as “Use the link below to download our ebook on marketing techniques for your phone or ereader”
• And “Follow us on social media to stay up to date” can be more useful as “Click through to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and get all the updates as they happen”, especially when you link to the appropriate profiles.

Understanding Surprise

One way to keep customers on their toes and make them happy with your brand is to give them a positive surprise. Customers expect to get good service, but when you can offer them exceptional service, they are likely to be pleased. For example, the online shoe company Zappo’s has been known to upgrade customers to overnight shipping for free without telling them. The company found that customers were more likely to return and shop again when they got the surprise upgrade after their purchase was complete versus during the checkout process.

You don’t have to surprise your customers with something big, just something that will matter to them. Many customers on a fashion website are searching for something that they’ll need for an upcoming event. A company like Zappo’s is already known for their exceptional customer service; the fast shipping helps customers feel like they have plenty of time to try out their items and return them if anything is necessary.

By understanding how psychology works with customer behavior, companies have a better chance of building longstanding strength that their customers will appreciate. What does your business do to use psychology to their benefit?

Margarita Hakobyan
CEO and founder of, an online marketplace of local moving companies and storage facilities. Business women, wife and mother of two with bachelor's degree from the University of Utah with a concentration in International Studies and a Masters Degree also from the University of Utah with a degree in International business.


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