What motivates consumers to buy online?

Credit cards are widely regarded as one of the most important financial inventions of all time. Economic difficulties? Short on cash? No problem – swipe, delay payments, and enjoy your new purchase. In recent years, credits cards have become more than just cash alternatives. They are personalized gift cards that let you accumulate unique experiences anywhere and whenever you are. It’s not hard to see that credit card companies have stopped talking about interest rates and fees. Instead, they now cultivate loyalty clubs that are represent the good life. Flights, restaurants, attractions, and individualized discounts offered based on up-to-date and accurate data about each and every customer. A worthwhile credit card is a card that opens the right doors to the most appealing amenities that can’t be found elsewhere.

Piling on such extras. Is this the secret to success? Pretty simple, no? Think again. It’s been said and proven time after time that people tend to view themselves as rational beings, but when it comes to consumerism – no less than 95% of buying decisions are emotion-based. It’s true that that the decision making process and the time it takes to reach a decision differ from one person to another, but for the vast majority of us, what drives us to make a purchase online is the same, whether we’re buying a new Tesla or a Halloween costume on Ali Express. The aforementioned statistic should make the lives of digital marketers easier, as long as they understand the underlying, universal purchasing drivers amongst consumers.

A comprehensive understanding of these drivers can help raise conversion rates and strengthen the ties between digital businesses and their customers. A recent Harvard study titled “The New Science of Customer Emotions” found as many as 300 different human purchasing drivers! Most of these are subconscious and are rooted in deeply hidden desires that advertisers have found difficult to identify. Each of these drivers has a dissimilar impact on customer loyalty to a brand and on the brand’s capacity to retain customers over time. We chose to concentrate on 10 primary drivers whose secrets, once revealed, can help increase digital sales.

1. Feeling special and standing out

The need to feel unique and special is true for all humans. Whether it be how we speak, look, or our choice of career – each individual communicates their identity to the world in their own fashion, and more importantly, we all want to believe that the product just offered to us was tailored specifically to us. Mass production? Leave that to others. When Addidas and Kanye West introduce a new line of sneakers, they make sure to release a limited, well-scoped edition, such that the small group of buyers will feel special and privileged.

הלקוחות הפוטנציאליים הפכו ללקוחות מן המניין,To market freedom, you don’t need to dream far (photo: UNFLUSH)

2. Reliability

We all know that the world is a dangerous place. Or that’s what most people tend to think. However, every crisis is an opportunity and each of our fears is a chance to cope. A brand’s ability to provide a sense of a bright and promising future, and to fulfill their consumers’ need to find someone they can rely upon – will bring with it good tidings. When the software giant, Nice Systems, donates millions to Ukrainian refugees, it’s not only showing the type of compassion we’d expect to see from a strong, responsible entity, it’s communicating a message of reliability.

3. Peace, Quiet, and Simplicity

Life is sufficiently complicated and stressful that we all seek out those moments of calm and quiet that help make life easier. Who doesn’t want to stop the rat race for a moment, and ask themselves: “Where is everyone running to?” A brand that helps its customers slow down and provides them with long term tranquility – will succeed, just as Wissotzky does with it’s marketing strategy for green tea, or the as portrayed by the ease of squeezing Primor oranges.

4. Freedom

The pursuit of a sense of freedom is common to all humans, not only digital customers. Freedom is the basis for self-actualization, growth, fulfillment, and well-being. Over the years, many brands have marketed the feeling of liberty and have sometimes attempted to redefine its meaning to match their needs. With that said, you don’t need to go far to market freedom. You need only to hold free choice as your guiding principle, and let your customers feel this first-hand. For years, the Club Med chain would market its resort clubs by describing the uplifting experience one has when returning from vacation. At that moment, after you’ve recharged your battery and you’re feeling on cloud nine, everything bad feels not so bad.

5. Excitement and experience

Who doesn’t want to get excited, to feel exhilarated, to belong to something bigger? It turns out, that we all do. Our ongoing quest to discover new experiences and thrills has created an entire world of content revolving around customer experiences – and the sky is the limit. Give your customers experiences, and they’ll come back again and again, with undying loyalty. Serve them up interesting stories, and they’ll become your ambassadors and recommend you to others. When the Israeli dairy collective, Tnuva, speaks of their cheeses, they speak of family, of dinners together, and of cozy harmony around the dinner table. And what about the cheese? It makes it appearance only at the end of the marketing funnel.

6. Responsibility

Whether it be responsibility to the environment, corporate responsibility, or governmental responsibility, customers will always choose the brand that shows that it cares more than others. Why? Because people perceive that brands that behave in a responsible fashion will behave the same way with their customers, which translates into an excellent customer experience. When the clothing brand H&M announced that it will begin recycling old clothing collected from customers, it changed it’s positioning on a dime. People started to perceive H&M as innovative and, of course, as bearing a strong moral backbone.

Who doesn’t want to stop the rat race for a moment (Photo: UNFLUSH)

7. Community

Humans are social creatures that wish to feel a sense of belonging, and there’s no reason not to supply them with this fundamental right. In the age of social media, all you need is a robust Facebook community that hosts, debates, advises, shares, and shouts out the three words every customer likes to hear: “You aren’t alone”. Garmin, the navigation and measurement brand, excels at this, with a large part of its enormous user community posting their work-out statistics and (warmly) receiving compliments from other members of the community.

8. Self Actualization

This is an especially basic driver that allows each of us to dream, grow, and improve at whatever we choose to pursue. We need only look at the flood of written, digital, and photographic online guides for anything and everything under the sun – from hobbies to careers, to understand how hungry we are to learn the secrets of self-actualization. Insurance companies spend vast resources to improve their clients’ health by helping them avoid destructive habits, such as smoking and overeating, so that they (the clients) can save themselves from having to pay steep premiums because of illnesses. And between us, who doesn’t want to feel healthier, more alive?

9. Self-Control

Everybody needs limits to be able to have some modicum of control over their lives, and it’s important that brands understand how they can help their customers help themselves. This isn’t about avoidance, rather, the exact opposite: Within well-defined boundaries, we can flourish without getting lost. Bank brands do this well by supplying their customers with tools to monitor and control their financial spending (despite the banks being the biggest benefactors of such spending). Through this, the banks are perceived as responsible and as providing assistance with self-control.

10. Security

Perhaps the most important and powerful motive all. Consumers need and crave security – and best if you provide lots of it. The assurance that they made the right purchase, the confidence that they’ve paid a fair price, the knowledge that they can renege, the sense of security in knowing that the product they purchased will continue to work a month later, and more. The big brands know this well, but it’s important for smaller brands to get very familiar with this driver, and that they act to reduce, as much as possible, the range of risks, and any security gaps vis-à-vis their customers. A flexible and simple return policy is great at providing a sense of security, as well as an accessible, available, and service oriented call center staffed by humans.