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Why People Buy What They Buy: A Consumerist Perspective

  • Purchases rooted in emotional impulse.
  • Convenience-the new currency.
  • Consumers will fall for packaging.
  • People buy limited editions.
  • Fomo.

It may seem far fetched, but you’ve been a decisive consumer from when you were a toddler. Remember when you had a preference for a particular cereal? Or when you wouldn’t wear Adidas because Nike’s logo looked better?

Some days we have our shopping schedules mapped out. Others, we show up with impromptu purchases. Such trends are common and often raise fundamental questions on why we buy what we buy.

What exactly fuels our buying decisions? Are they self-imposed or do they result from factors that are reflexive? Luckily, we can understand the psychological motives behind our purchases.

Here are some reasons why people choose to make their purchases, whether planned or not.

 Most Of Our Purchases Are Rooted In Emotional Impulse

Friends shopping online
Three friends shopping online.

Impulsive buying is the most common catalyst for bulk purchases among consumers. It provides a basis for some marketing strategies. Only in the U.S, impulsive buying contributes to over $ 4 billion in annual sales, making it a key buyer motivation. Impulse buying to factors as instant gratification, inviting incentives personality, and emotional appeals.

Most of the time, consumers need an emotional trigger and they're hooked. Signs such as ‘50 % off’ or ‘Buy 2 Get 1 free’ are some incentives that prompt consumers to buy things they didn’t plan for. Evading a loss by buying what I need in the future will downright prompt me to make an impulse buy.

Convenience-The New Currency

May arise in the form of flexibility in time, finances or mobility. Generally, People don’t like to sweat it, especially if it's their money they are spending. Many consumers find it convenient to buy stuff on Amazon because it's more convenient.

How many times have you chosen Pizza over Barbeque because the pizza delivery guy is faster? When it narrows down to marketing, it occurs to us that the internet and social media rule. The Internet has given rise to a hyper-connected market.

According to consumerists, the increasing demand for convenience is diverting consumers towards e-commerce. Online retail provides the option for home deliveries. Who wouldn’t want their lunch delivered right at their doorstep?

Consumers Will Fall For Packaging

At Carnegie Mellon University, consumer researchers altered an overnight shipping charge on a free DVD. The shifts in responses were overwhelming. By changing a sign that read “a $ 5 fee” to “ a small $ 5 fee” positive responses from consumers increased by 20%. The details provided in a product description often compel consumers to make a buy. The ideal marketing strategy is to create your packaging. Packaging translates into your websites, product descriptions and welcoming signs. Consumers are more likely to buy from a carpeted shop because it feels comforting!

People Buy Limited Editions

Being the only one donning a bespoke William Hunt designer suit feels different. This feeling gives rise to another reason why people buy. Sometimes, we buy because a certain product exudes class, and links us to a higher social lingo. People buy to be unique and to be different.

Regardless of how often they use a product, sometimes it feels good to own it. Take Apple products for example. Apple’s strategy was to convince the buyer that Apple has a connection with Apple products. Apple products are a uniform product that can transform you into a superhero. These products are generally reserved for particular people, and their loyalty is unparalleled.

The Curiosity Gap

The Marketing Science Institute revealed that generating curiosity leads towards purchasing the product. It provided limited information for a product, prompting the consumer to buy it and fill the knowledge gap. The effect that consumer curiosity has on consumers is that it leads to an increased desire to know more.

E-commerce is the greatest generator of consumer curiosity. Brands diverted their marketing strategies to the online space. All because many buyers spend more time on their screens. Product reviews are a good example of ways to start curiosity. 

Companies arouse curiosity by decorating their websites and social pages with inviting information. Once the consumer is convinced that what they’ve read is a tip of the iceberg, boom, they're sold.

Companies are adopting this new strategy aimed at fulfilling customers’ inquisitive demands. Curiosity tends to sell well in the beauty industry. Phillip Aura compelled affluent, classy women to try out the product, and here is their catch. Customers bought it because they wanted to find out if the product makes your skin look younger.


Social media has birthed a generation that is more conscious of how people perceive them, whether on Instagram or in real life. Sometimes we buy products because it’s drawing good reviews and we want to be part of the bandwagon. Consumers have a natural inclination towards moving in packs. It will always fall for what other consumers are buying. Our preferences evolve as society evolves, prompting us to buy what is trending at that time.


Consumers are more willing to spend on commodities that bring back the good old days. Nostalgic feelings will trigger to buy because wanting to relive their moments. This consumerist’s perspective has elicited new marketing strategies. Companies design products likely to induce nostalgic feelings among customers. In a study conducted on the impact of nostalgia on consumer behavior, there were two outcomes:

     * Subjects were more willing to spend on products when thinking about the past.

     * The memory of a past event made consumers buy products.

In another experiment, subjects were more willing to give away their money when reminiscing. Nostalgia is particularly a key motivator for sales in the food industry, toy, and movie industry. In 2017, Starbucks invented the famous Frappuccino beverage’ and millions of people have tried it out.

We Buy To Experience A Pleasure

Disneyland in Hong Kong.

There is a sense of self-delight that accompanies buying certain products, and we all love it. Consumers buy because the item or service will impose delightful emotions. They don’t want to miss out on that. Luxury items make the buyer feel good. You see the way people become so overwhelmed when they finally go to Disney Land? Now that’s the kind of pure bliss and pleasure we’re talking about.

Consumers Love To Buy An Intact Package

Consumers are more likely to buy a product if it covers all their needs. Do you know why cell phone companies reap big from unlimited mobile plans? It’s pretty simple. Imagine having to spend almost 30 minutes of your time scrolling plans and making comparisons. Exhausting, right? With an unlimited plan, you can text, make calls and use your internet without having to replenish all the time. The trick is to pack your most lucrative offer option with value, and buyers will most fall for it.