Speed and Solution

03.07.2017 |

Episode #3 of the course Consumer behavior: Becoming an empowered consumer by Maureen McGuinness


Being loyal to a brand influences us to spend money. Being a tightwad customer who is offered value for money influences us to spend money. This third lesson on key studies in consumer psychology will demonstrate the power of urgency and perceived needs.

Last chance!

Buy now!

Don’t miss out!

Sound familiar? Since many of us have been shopping at one time or other, we’ve been urged to purchase or risk missing out on a great deal. These slogans can be enough to draw us into a shop to browse a sale for an item that we hadn’t realized we “needed” until now.

Urgency is a common technique that retailers use to encourage us to part with our money. Although a sense of urgency, e.g., a sale, can be enough to bring us in to browse items at a store, to increase the chance of a purchase, retailers always emphasize that acting now can ensure that you don’t miss out.

Howard Leventhal carried out a study where he analyzed the effects of handing out tetanus brochures to participants. He used two different pamphlets. Both pamphlets provided the same level of high detail to describe the nasty effects of tetanus on the body. The first pamphlet described only the effects of tetanus, while the second included brief information on where to get vaccinated. Leventhal found that participants who received the second pamphlet were much more likely to take action by getting vaccinated. Only 3.3% of participants who read the first pamphlet got vaccinated compared with 33% of participants who read the second pamphlet.

We are more likely to part with our money when a sense of urgency is coupled with specific steps for taking action. Clarity on how to solve our urgent issue is key for encouraging us to take action today.

Interrupting the Flow of Information

Most of the time we don’t even realize that a company has created a need in us to purchase their product, so it’s helpful to use some steps to help us be more deliberate about our purchases:

1. Stop and breathe deeply. Creating space between you and that which is trying to get your attention can be enough to interrupt autopilot.

2. Now or later? Beyond your basic necessities (water, shelter, and food), there are very few things that require you to purchase them now for survival. Consider what would happen if you waited to buy that thing. You might miss out on a great price. Or you might just forget about that thing and use the money saved for something that brings you greater value.

3. Actual cost. Affordability isn’t just a price. When you buy an item, there’s an added cost of your time, your attention, and your effort to look after it. Price goes beyond the monetary cost.

Congratulations! You’ve just completed Section 1: Essential Studies on Consumer Psychology, which shows the external factors impacting your purchases. Tomorrow, we’ll move on to Section 2: Psychological Exercises, which will show you how to spend less and overcome your own psychological barriers when spending money.


Recommended book

Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom


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