7 Psychological Strategies to Influence Consumer Spending

Psychology is not typically top of mind when people think about marketing and advertising, but the truth is, successful marketing includes an essential psychological component.

Market research involves systematically gathering data and then analyzing the data, with the objective of gaining knowledge about a company’s ideal customer and target market wants, needs, and preferences. In other words, it defines psychological strategies to influence consumer spending.

Understanding persuasive strategies in marketing can be used to your advantage in influencing consumer behavior and understanding the psychology of the consumer can lead to effective marketing.

In this blog post, our market research company will discuss the 7 common psychological strategies we often share with our clients to influence consumer spending and behavior. 

7 Psychological Strategies to Influence Consumer Spending

What is Consumer Behavior?

Consumer behavior is known as the study of all of the activities linked to an individual or an organization’s decision to make a purchase, use, and get rid of a product or service.

This field of study is centered on buyer motivation, behavior, and psychology, which can be influenced by three main factors.

Three factors of consumer behavior include 👇👇

1. Psychological Processes

This area focuses on the ability of a consumer to process and retain information on a product or service.

There are three common components of this factor:

  1. Learning
  2. Perception
  3. Motivation

2. Social Influences

These influences can be defined by an individual’s social group, status, and familial ties.

Families can affect purchase decisions through five definitive roles:

  1. Initiator
  2. Influencer
  3. Decider
  4. Buyer 
  5. User

3. Individual Differences

Personal factors of a consumer consist of the buyer’s demographic such as:

  •  Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Educational level
  • Cultural background

Learn more about consumer behavior and understanding why customers buy.

How Market Research Helps Influence Consumer Spending

Most people who work in marketing and advertising are not psychologists. However, psychology is interwoven into all marketing even it is a behind the scenes driver.

This dynamic reflects one of the many reasons companies hire a professional market research company to design, conduct, and analyze consumer behavior.

Results from a survey can help an advertising firm better understand who their customers are, why they choose their product or service, and what motivates them to buy.

Market Research Techniques to Identify Psychological Strategies

The market research process includes technical elements of psychology including:

Although these examples represent techniques and methodologies in the field of psychology, successful marketing and advertising require an emphasis on how an ideal customer thinks and feels.

A market research company is not only able to apply psychological research techniques and methodologies efficiently and effectively, but they are also able to provide valuable insight into the psychology (thoughts and feelings) of an ideal customer.

Understanding what a consumer thinks and feels is applied and utilized for a successful marketing campaign. When a company appeals to an ideal customer’s thoughts and emotions, they effectively influence that customer to buy a product or service.

7 Psychological Strategies to Influence Consumer Spending

Psychological Strategy #1: Appeal to Emotions

Humans are emotional beings. Studies have shown appealing to emotions is more effective in marketing than demonstrating the features and functionality of a product or service.

Emotional appeals are incorporated into marketing in order for consumers to make decisions from the heart and feel connected to the brand. Marketing needs to be personal to maintain that connection with the consumer.

For instance, if a product makes the consumers feel the emotion of happiness then they will feel the need to share their experience with others.

As a result of sharing their experience, new customers will emerge to experience the same feeling and it’ll keep the original customers coming back for more.

Here is a simple example of the power emotions play with consumer buying.

Think about when you purchase a new item of clothing. You may like it, or even love it when you see it on the rack.

When you try it on in the dressing room and look at yourself, the emotions you experience will influence whether you carry it to the register or leave it hanging in the dressing room.

If you feel confident, like you could rock a boardroom in that suit, you are more likely to buy.

If you feel beautiful, like the whole room would look at you when you enter the room, you are more likely to buy. If you feel happy as you see yourself in the mirror, you are more likely to buy.

Emotions are influential over a potential buyer.

Think about computer advertisements.

Computer companies do not solely focus on the technical functionality of the computer. They do not only mention the I7 processor and 32 GB RAM.

They advertise those features by appealing to emotions. “Save all your family photos with ease.” (RAM). “Download and stream movies while emailing your clients.” (Type of processor).

Another example of a service is cable companies.

Cable companies advertise a digital video recorder (DVR) option. This is a more expensive option compared to a traditional cable box, and yet many consumers spend the extra money every month.

How a DVR technically works is not the focus of the cable company’s advertisements.

They advertise desired positive emotions having DVR creates for an ideal customer. They emphasize how you can watch your favorite show anytime (joy), fast-forward commercials (control and satisfaction), and pause so you never miss anything (relief and gratitude).

Psychological Strategy #2: Scarcity

Supply and demand play a role in the success of a product or service. The psychology behind this concept is, the rarer the product or service, the more valuable the target market perceives it to be.

When a product or service is not easily accessible, the consumer is more likely to act fast and purchase before they are no longer available.

Ferrari is a perfect example of a company that implements the scarcity principle.

Over the years, Ferrari has launched several cars with limited availability, meaning only a certain number of them are manufactured, and once they are sold they become scarce.

With a price tag sometimes in the millions, scarcity becomes a psychological marketing strategy that Ferrari uses to its advantage.

Psychological Strategy #3: Reciprocity

When a person receives a gift, it creates positive emotions toward the gift-giver. Psychologically, due to the fact this individual has created a positive emotion, the receiver will desire to reciprocate and give something back to them.

This strategy can largely benefit both the consumer and a company, the consumer feels positively toward that brand for receiving a gift and the company has gained the trust of the consumer.

This psychological phenomenon involving emotions is used consistently during marketing campaigns.

Think about all the samples given away at kiosks in the mall, grocery stores, and liquor stores, or the number of advertisements that boast a free trial sample that will be delivered right to your door.

You can enter Macy's, walk to a make-up counter, and receive a free makeover without purchasing a product first. There are companies that offer a free consultation.

With each of these marketing techniques, the company is triggering the natural desire of the consumer to reciprocate kindness and generosity, which translates into buying the product or service.

In the case of marketers, it’s important to understand that reciprocity can produce a multitude of benefits, which include gaining new customers, customer retention, and develop customer loyalty over time.

Psychological Strategy #4: Exclusivity

You might be familiar with Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” which conceptualizes a pyramid format of human needs to be met in a specific order.

Maslow’s pyramid starts with physiological needs, followed by safety, love/belonging, esteem, and topping it off resides self-actualization. Esteem refers to the need to feel included and accomplished. Marketers can appeal to this human need to feel important and included.

A basic human desire is to want something that one perceives they can never obtain and marketers take this physiological need into account.

In order to make a product appear desirable, companies must make the item exclusive, so not everyone can have it. An exclusive product or service will ultimately make the consumer feel important. 

Think about membership to a country club or organization.

They promote exclusivity. Even American Express uses the tagline, “Membership has its privileges,” appealing to the human need to be included, as well as implying a non-member is missing out on the privileges.

Fear is a powerful emotion and fear of missing out (FOMO) is hardly new in the marketing industry. Generating a little jealousy, when done respectfully and tastefully, can establish an emotional connection with a target market.

It is natural for a human to desire inclusion and want to be part of something exclusive.

Psychological Strategy #5: Social Proof

Individuals have a psychological desire to fit in. The concept of social proof relies on the notion of fitting in and being influenced by others to engage in behaviors, such as purchasing clothing that aligns with the latest fashion trends.

In reference to marketing psychology, companies want consumers to participate in actions that will lead to a sale or new customers. 

Psychological Strategy #6: Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity has been around since the early 1970s and discusses how the human brain is constantly adjusting behavior and response based on new experiences. The quick and constant evolution of the human brain is an important neurological factor to consider in marketing.

Advertisements are everywhere we look.

They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and are present on multiple marketing platforms. Marketing campaigns must account for the human brain’s ability to quickly adjust, adapt, and evolve in order to maintain the attention of the ideal customer.

For this reason, you will notice advertisements change at a rapid rate in the marketplace.

Companies are changing their advertisements to stay fresh, new, and relevant. It is important to always provide new experiences for the ideal customer.

Here are four ways market research can improve advertising.

Psychological Strategy #7: Authority

It is a known fact that consumers are more likely to listen to experts than a random salesperson because the expert or the authority figure has gained the consumers’ trust through their credibility.

Therefore, including an expert to advocate for your brand will most likely convert new customers and retain older ones.  


Every marketer is different, but the ideology behind their work remains the same, they want consumers to buy their product or service. Since marketers believe this notion, it’s clear that there are competitors fighting for the consumer’s attention.

Therefore, these professionals have to find ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. One way to do this is through the use of persuasion. 

Although marketers are not known for being psychologists, successful marketing includes an essential psychological component.

An ideal customer’s feelings influence spending behavior. By appealing to positive desired emotions in marketing, a company can increase a customer’s buying potential.

Other psychological aspects used to persuade a consumer to buy include scarcity, reciprocity, exclusivity, and accounting for neuroplasticity.

In any advertisement or marketing campaign, marketers will intentionally incorporate psychological elements to influence the consumer to make a decision.

To enhance this process, companies hire market research firms to conduct research studies in order to collect and analyze consumer behavior data.

As a result, organizations will have a better understanding of who their customers are, why they made the decision to buy a product or service, and what motivates them to consume.

By utilizing a psychological marketing strategy, a company is more likely to launch successful and profitable campaigns.

Identify Psychological Strategies with Our Market Research Company

Drive Research is a national market research company serving many industries across the country. Our experts utilize qualitative and quantitative methodologies to identify key psychological strategies our clients can utilize to influence consumer spending.

To learn more about our services, contact Drive Research today!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.

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