Learn the Psychology behind Buying Behaviour

When you understand why people make a decision to buy, or not buy; you have a foundation for improving marketing of anything. This is a different but very important and valuable course for anyone involved in sales, marketing or business of any kind.


In retailing (at least), shoppers can be categorised into the following four groups:

1. Economic Shoppers: Most interested in prices, value, product quality & economic factors. Not so interested in treatment by staff, decor of the store, location etc.

2. Personalising Shoppers: Enjoy the interaction with sales staff, preferring to shop with sales staff they know & like.

3. Ethical Shoppers: Avoid large chain stores or companies that tend towards monopolies or deal with products which are judged unethical. Don't shop at big supermarkets because "they are putting the small man out of business" Prefer to buy food from the biodynamic shop because it hasn't been treated with chemicals. .......etc

4. Apathetic Shoppers: Don't like shopping, go to the most convenient supplier because they must.

Through an understanding of things such as this, a sales or marketing person is able to better manage their marketing effort, and conduct their work in a more efficient and appropriate way. This is just one of many aspects to this course.



There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

  1. People as Consumers
    Understanding the types of psychological “rewards” gained by a person through buying. Distinguishing between consumers, customers and buyers?
  2. Market Segmentation
    Understanding market segments and applying the concept of target marketing.
  3. Internal Influences –Perception & Personality
    Consumer self image, difference threshold, trait theory of personality, etc.
  4. Internal Influences –Motivation and Awareness
    Customer satisfaction, the way complaints are dealt with, stimulus generalisation and stimulus discrimination, etc
  5. Social Influences
    Family Influences, Social groups, Developmental Influences, Peer Group Influences (Work and Leisure), Social Class and Culture
  6. Consumerism
    Deceptive advertising, sensitivity to consumer needs, variation between perception and reality.
  7. Communication and Persuasion
    Message Evaluation, Selection & Execution
  8. Deciding to Buy - Why people shop, or do not shop; surveying the market place


Duration: 100 Hours (Nominal Duration).



  • Identify categories of shoppers.
  • Describe the key concepts of Market Segmentation
  • Determine the role of perception and personality in the marketing process
  • Determine the factors that motivate a consumer toward a purchase.
  • Define how social factors influence a consumers behaviour
  • Discuss consumerism in the context of marketing.
  • Determine the factors that influence consumer attitude and marketing communication and persuasion.
  • Apply the concept of multi – element buying decisions.


Who Buys Things, and Why?

Traditionally, women are seen as having the greatest role in making family purchases, particularly when it comes to clothes, food and products for the house.
The buying roles have traditionally been divided into two groups:
Instrumental: This is functional and ensures that the task is successfully completed
Expressive: This deals with the emotional aspect of the task and has tended to be associated with the female though these roles are tending to become less defined.

Other roles include:

  • Initiator. The person who identifies a need
  • Influencer. The person in the family who persuades other members on what to buy
  • Decider. The person who decides what to buy
  • Buyer. The person who makes the purchase
  • User. The person who consumes the product
  • Gatekeeper. The person who chooses whether or not to let certain information gets through. It is usually attached to one of the other 5 roles, especially initiator or buyer.

Purchasing roles depend on who is dominant. For example one partner may be dominant for certain purchases and the other partner dominant for others. Some decisions may be equally made individually by each spouse (autonomic) or may be made jointly. However, the role of decision maker is separate from purchaser. This can cause problems for the marketer as the purchaser can be targeted at the point of purchase, which cannot be aimed at the decision maker.

For example, the decision maker decides that from now on they are going to buy brand X shampoo. The purchaser goes to the shops, but brand B is on special offer, so he/she can justify this purchase by saying it was on special offer etc. etc.

The distinction between decision maker and purchaser is therefore blurred.

The purchaser may ignore instructions from the decision maker – in error or deliberately.
The decision maker may specify the type of product to purchase, but not the brand.
The purchaser may make a substitution if the desired brand isn’t in stock.

Conflict Resolution
Family decisions related to purchasers can result in conflict. Few families are wealthy enough to be able to buy exactly what they want without discussion. This can result in conflicting pressures between the family members.

There are conflicts of interest that affect purchasing decisions, and they are resolved in one of four ways:

  • Coercion. This may be done by claiming to be the expert, having authority, or by carrying out threats or punishments.
  • Persuasion. This involves reasoned argument
  • Bargaining. This is the strategy of give and take.
  • Manipulation. This may involve sulking, silences, withdrawal of affection and so on, and is usually viewed as an immature response to the situation.


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