Influencing Consumer Behavior: 7 Strategies That Work!

20 May
2020

A friend popped in for a short visit recently. He’d bought some small drugs to treat a mild sickness. Although there was a big pharmacy store that sold at normal prices on his street, he preferred to buy from the store in my neighbourhood – several streets away!

“I don’t like the pharmacy store in my street. Good drugs and a nice store, but the manager is an unfriendly chap. Never smiling. Same with most of his staff,” he said before I could even voice the question in my head. 

I smiled. He was right. The keyword for me was ‘Likeability.’ Sometimes, I like patronizing ‘nice’ people too, even if I know they charged me a few cents more. 

It’s the same thing with other businesses too, both online and offline. It’s important to remember that beyond the price tag, a few other factors consciously and subconsciously come to play in influencing buyer behaviour. 

As a business owner, it’s no longer enough to simply do your homework on determining the specific needs of your target customers. You should also try figuring out one more vital piece of the puzzle: What drives their buying behaviour.  

First and foremost, you need to grasp and considerably master the fundamentals of brand marketing: 

  • Identify your target consumer demographics.
  • Study their psychographics.
  • Outline their pain points in relation to your product or service.
  • Clearly showcase a solution that promises a better life for the consumer.
  • Craft and deliver consistent and targeted brand messaging around your unique value proposition.
  • Connect and engage with your consumers and deliver a satisfactory solution. 

You need focus, commitment and some basic resources to pull through each of these processes. And you also need to understand and build empathy with your brand’s target market. These require having a good knowledge of the four key factors that drive consumer behaviour: 

  • Psychological
  • Personal
  • Social
  • Cultural

You can’t control these factors. But you can try to influence the buying decisions of your target market by tapping into and exploiting how these factors ‘control’ their behaviour. 

Here are some ways successful brands have applied these techniques and scored with their target market. 

Create a “likeable” brand personality

As illustrated in my opening story, ‘likeability’ is a big magnet for many consumers. Customers are more motivated to do business with you if they enjoy being around you. Simply put, people do business with people they like. And that’s because there’s a charm to being attractive and, as science has discovered, it can increase trust and likeability. 

So, besides having a great attitude and perhaps a pretty face to boot, how else can you apply this principle and influence target customers’ behaviour? 

Create an attractive and engaging online presence. Be visually appealing. 

Stick to the conventional rules of beauty with all your brand elements. From your brand logo to your brand colour and fonts, your website to your social media pages, your web copies to the videos and images you use in your digital marketing campaigns. 

 Reciprocity

The idea of reciprocity in social psychology is that people would feel obliged to respond in kind, in equal or greater measure, to an act of goodness. It’s a natural instinct in people (or most people), whether in their personal or professional lives or as customers. 

However, the technique of reciprocity works if:

  • The ‘good act’ is of a reasonable size, value and price (it should not be excessive or trivial).
  • It comes as a surprise. 

A generous discount on next purchase (say 10%) or free delivery is an example of how to apply this technique in influencing consumer behaviour: 

Reciprocity can earn you brand loyalty and retention among current customers, as well as help you win new customers and followership on social media. 

Foot-in-the-door technique

The art of foot-in-the-door marketing is all about letting your target customer enjoy a slice of your service at no cost, hoping it will nudge them into making a buying decision.  For example, when you offer users free trials, you’ll be increasing compliance rates and influencing their commercial behaviour. 

But remember to provide an option for the user to upgrade to a paid version after the trial period of say 7 days or 30 days. And make sure to take their payment details before the trial, so transitioning from free to paid use is seamless. 

Create a sense of scarcity and urgency

Over the past few years, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has proven a powerful marketing strategy. It’s the anxiety that is provoked in the minds of a target customer when they discover others might be enjoying a rewarding experience from which they are absent.  In fact, this technique is the marketing concept behind the popular Black Friday hysteria. 

Another idea under this category is to provide customers a limited time offer on a great product at an eye-catching discount rate.

Create a tribe and a rival 

Joining up with a community, subgroup, clique or fan club is a natural human instinct. We do it to try to feel a strong sense of identity with – to give a few examples – a football club, stars in a big reality TV show, or even a set of staff in a large office.  

Wherever there’s a new idea, ideology, product or object of public interest, tribes and rivals form quickly. In psychology, this proclivity is referred to as Social Identity Theory, which states that the individual’s action is fuelled by a sense of self he/she gets from being a member of the group.  

Apple perfectly exploits this principle by creating a tribe of brand loyalists who derive a strong social identity from using an iPhone or an iMac computer and ‘discriminate’ against rival consumers who use Android phones or a Windows laptop. 

You too can easily divide the market into tribes and have them feel better about themselves from using your brand product or service, compared to a rival group who use other products. 

Reduce options 

Providing your target with too many options doesn’t give you leverage. Instead, it confuses and wears out the customer and devalues your offers. In the end, there might be no purchase. 

It’s not the customer. It’s just psychology at play. 

Use social proof

Check out these telling statistics on social proof: 86% of people will have doubts about doing business with a brand if the reviews are bad. A staggering 92% will hesitate to buy a product or use a service with no social proof. And an incredible 97% of consumers say social proof is a powerful influence on their decision to buy.  

Consumers will trust the real and unedited testimonies of past users of your service or product much more than any ad or marketing content you put out there. Social proof by happy customers is one of the biggest marketing tools you can use today. 

Make sure to add the images of the satisfied customers to increase believability. Even better, if you can get a video testimonial!

In conclusion…

The modern consumer has a legion of options in front of them and has thus become increasingly picky and savvy about their choices. To gain a foothold in the minds of your target audience and expand your market reach, you must dig deep to understand some fundamental factors behind their needs and actions. Diligently and carefully apply these strategies, then sit back and enjoy the amazing results of your smart marketing and hard work. 

 

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