The Psychology of Going Shopping

When you understand the psychological factors that motivate shoppers to purchase, you can form deeper, more meaningful relationships with them. As a result, they’ll prefer your brand more and be more loyal too.

A retail purchase takes place in a shopper’s mind long before they reach for their purse or wallet.

When you understand the psychological factors that motivate shoppers to purchase, you can form deeper, more meaningful relationships with them. As a result, they’ll prefer your brand more and be more loyal too.

Here’s a cold, hard truth of retail: Many shoppers who go into a store or log onto an e-commerce website are simply looking for a quick emotional buzz. This needn’t be bad news for retailers or brands, as there are numerous ways to emotionally engage with shoppers quickly and cost-effectively.

Introduce urgency or scarcity

Limited time offers like When It’s Gone It’s Gone (WIGIG) give customers the excitement they crave by creating an illusion of scarcity. This sense of urgency can often be the deciding factor in whether that shopper decides to make a purchase or not. According to CNBC in USA, 80 percent of young shoppers made impulse purchases online during the last year. This high number is no coincidence, because retailers have started to understand the psychology and emotion needed to create the type of shopping experience that makes shoppers feel like they’re getting the deal of a lifetime.

Creating the perception of significant added value or a limited amount of goods in-stock are two of the ways that retailers can do this. Here are more phrases proven to emotionally engage shoppers:

Limit, only 2 per customer - Any limit makes shoppers fear missing out.

Must end Wednesday - Why do retailers hide the promotion end date of shelf edge labels? As they are powerful motivators to purchase.

Was/Now offers – Tells shoppers they are getting better value than was available previously.

Free – Get the word ‘Free’ into your offer and it triggers activity within shopper’s mental reward centres, bypassing reason altogether.

New – In shoppers minds, if something is new, then it is often perceived as being better

Whether a shopper comes into a store looking to get away from their everyday lives, looking for other humans to engage with, or looking for a quick buzz, retailers that can give them the emotional experience they’re looking for will be the more preferred destinations.

About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Are you fascinated by how shoppers think?

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