The Irrational Path to Purchase

August 2, 2016
August 2, 2016 Full Contact

When thinking about how people decide what products to buy, we usually assume that people make rational decisions based on weighing the pros and cons of different products. In a webinar presented by AdWeek, Dan Ariely, Professor of Behavior Economics at Duke University, offers an entirely different view of the decision-making process.

Deliberation and the Micro-Moment
Online buying behavior is significantly different depending on where the purchase is taking place. If a consumer is sitting in front of a computer screen, they tend to take a deliberative approach and consider a more complex set of parameters before reaching a decision. However, when consumers are on-the-go the buying process happens during micro-moments, or short bursts when people turn to their mobile devices to satisfy an immediate need.

Influencing Buyers in Different Environments
Ariely identifies several key areas that advertisers and companies can focus on when influencing buyer behavior in both the deliberative and on-the-go environments:

  1. Emotions. How consumers feel will always influence their behavior. However, during a deliberative process, people are far more likely to take a break from the purchase and return to complete the transaction at a later time thus interrupting or diluting the effect of emotions. Micro-moments, however, are often fueled by emotion so hitting the right notes is more essential.
  2. Complexity. Deliberative moments require more information as people are ready to review a number of factors such as cost, attributes, and features. Micro-moments, on the other hand, require simplified information that is presented in an easy-to-digest format. Consumers on-the-go are also more likely to be looking for “good enough,” while deliberative consumers are looking to maximize the cost-benefit calculation.
  3. Branding. In considering the simplified information that consumers on-the-go are looking for, remember that branding acts as a mental shortcut for people by representing a host of features such as trust, ideology, reliability, and quality. Use branding to your advantage to reduce the amount of specific information presented for micro-moments, but don’t overestimate its effectiveness for deliberative consumers who would rather see all the information.
  4. Priming and Momentary Mindset. Consider what thoughts the consumer is likely to have immediately before engaging with messages. Consumers on-the-go are more difficult to predict, however, they are also easier to influence—especially if the timing is right. Since we can track the location of mobile users, we can use that information to deliver messages at optimal times to have the most impact on their buying behavior.

Making the Most of the Moment
By understanding the vastly different mindsets of consumers who are sitting in front of a computer compared to those on the go, we are able to present our messages in a way that consumers find relevant, and therefore a bit more likely to be acted upon. This is different than understanding the consumer as a person—something that is at the heart of all of today’s advertising initiatives—as the same individual will behave decidedly different depending on their surroundings, mood, and current influences.



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