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Inês Tito
– Copywriter –

Have you ever thought about how many decisions you make every day?

What clothes to wear to work, where to go for lunch, which route to take to escape the traffic at the end of the day…

Inês Tito
– Copywriter –

Have you ever thought about how many decisions you make every day?

What clothes to wear to work, where to go for lunch, which route to take to escape the traffic at the end of the day…

Without realizing it, we make decisions all the time. Most of them are simple decisions that have little influence on our future. Others, however, are more complex and require more attention.

As consumers, we are constantly looking for what we consider to be the best product or service. Even when we buy on impulse.

So how do consumers decide to buy product A instead of product B? That’s what we’re going to find out in this article!

Source: Freepik


Consumer psychology at the service of marketing

Globalization, technological growth, and widespread access to the internet have transformed the way we assimilate new information. There’s always something happening somewhere, and we can’t miss a beat.

This unbridled desire to keep up with everything that happens (or as the British call it fear of missing out), in a world where everything changes so quickly, can drive anyone to despair. 

Any marketing professional eager to understand their target audience has fallen into this trap at some point. That’s why consumer psychology is so important.

Consumer psychology tells us what consumers think, what their behavior patterns are, their preferences, and their habits. How? Through market analysis and research into consumer attitudes and behavior, it is possible to obtain highly detailed information.

By understanding exactly what factors influence purchasing decisions, marketers have the key to creating a successful strategy.

How does psychology affect purchasing decisions?

Let’s take a look at one of the main theories in psychology: Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs

American psychologist Abraham Maslow characterized human needs according to a hierarchical order, in which basic survival needs (eating or sleeping, for example) are at the bottom of the pyramid. This is followed by the need for security, love, esteem, and personal fulfillment. The latter makes up the top of the pyramid. This means that to achieve personal fulfillment, we must first achieve all the other needs. Does that make sense?

Source: Simply Psychology, 2023

Well, taking what Maslow taught us, when we decide to buy, what need do we try to suppress?

This helps us understand why we buy a better car than the one we already have. Our motivation goes beyond the need to get around. We’ve already achieved that. Now we want a better, more comfortable car.

This is just one example to help us understand the consumer decision-making process. However, it’s not enough.

Within the framework of social psychology and consumer culture theory, there are various approaches to interpreting the decision-making process.

In addition, the consumer’s personality, their involvement with the product or service, their perception of risk, and even the influence of friends and family also affect the final decision.

Types of consumer

Knowing your customer is half the battle for any brand’s success. However, to meet their needs, you need to know exactly what kind of customer you’re dealing with.

Source: Freepik



As the name suggests, this consumer is the one who initiates the whole process. In essence, they are the person who generates the idea of buying. If your son asks you for a bicycle, he’s the one who started the process.


The consumer influencer has the power to influence someone else’s purchasing decision. It could be a friend who recommends a restaurant, or even an influencer who suggests a certain perfume. In recent years, the impact of consumer influencers has increased. So much so that it has given rise to a new branch of marketing, influencer marketing.


This is the consumer who has the power to decide on the purchase. Let’s go back to the example of your son asking you for a bicycle. In this case, the decision-maker is you! You decide where, when, and how much to spend on the bike.


The purchasing consumer is the person responsible for acquiring the product or service. Imagine that your son wants to buy his bicycle after school. Unfortunately, he can’t take it and asks his grandfather. By delegating this task, Grandad will be the buyer.


The name leaves no room for doubt: it’s the person who uses the product or service. Now your child can use their much-loved bicycle!


Type of behaviour

Consumer decision-making behavior is highly influenced by the type of product or service. Generally, the more complex the purchase, the longer the reflection period.

Complex purchase

It’s not every day that we buy a house or a car. These are expensive products that we rarely buy. Our involvement is high and leads us to evaluate all the options available on the market. This complex buying behavior arises when the risk of buying the wrong product is high.

Reduced cognitive dissonance

In this type of behavior, the consumer is highly involved in the buying process but finds it difficult to identify differences between brands. The dissonance occurs when the consumer wonders if it was the right choice.

For example, let’s buy a pair of running trainers. We see that there is little difference between the brands and that even the prices are similar. We end up choosing the model we like best, within our budget, and in the end, we wonder if we made the right decision. After the purchase, we tend to look for information to validate our decision.

Regular purchase

Habitual buying is associated with low consumer involvement with the brand. In other words, the customer doesn’t spend any time considering which brand to buy. The best example of this is a trip to the supermarket. We tend to buy the same type of rice, from the same brand, without giving it much thought. We buy out of habit.

Looking for variety

Involvement with the brand is low and there is little difference between products. In this case, consumers buy products from different brands, not out of dissatisfaction, but because they are looking for variety.

What factors influence consumer behavior?

Whether we’re buying the same type of rice or looking to validate our purchase of running trainers, several factors influence our purchasing decision.

Source: Freepik

A well-structured marketing campaign is one of the biggest influencers in the purchasing decision. The power of an effective message, at the right moment in the customer’s journey, can convince them to buy a different brand or even a more expensive product.

As we already know, the purchasing power and economic condition of the consumer is a predictor of the purchasing decision. Unless you’ve won the EuroMillions, you’ll likely consider your available budget before buying anything.

On the other hand, an environment of economic prosperity is highly favorable for the purchase of products beyond the customer’s purchasing power. Factors such as the consumer confidence index or the ease of paying on credit are the ones that most influence decision-making, especially for complex purchases.

Of course, we can’t forget personal preferences and the influence of society. 

Customer behavior is influenced by various personal factors, ranging from priorities to moral values and preferences. Although advertising is a powerful tool, someone who prioritizes paying off a loan will certainly not buy on impulse.

Pressure from society is another factor to consider. Whether we like it or not, the opinion of those around us is important to us. Therefore, decisions about what we wear or what restaurant we eat in are deeply related to what is accepted in society.

How to use all this information?

Knowing the type of consumer, their behavior patterns, and what motivates their purchasing decisions is fundamental to creating a marketing strategy focused on customer needs.

In this sense, customer segmentation will be the way forward. It is therefore important to consider the following:

  • The benefits sought by the customer;
  • The occasion that motivates the purchase;
  • The product’s utilization rate;
  • Brand loyalty;
  • The type of user;
  • The stage of the buying journey where the consumer is.

Aligning the marketing strategy with an in-depth knowledge of the type of consumer and their purchasing pattern makes it possible to increase conversions, create a highly targeted strategy, and identify opportunities to improve the customer experience.