Thursday 26 July 2018

An Introduction To Consumer Psychology

An Introduction To Consumer Psychology

So, you may know that my preferred area of psychology is forensics and criminal. While that is true, I do find many areas of psychology fascinating although I wouldn't want to base a whole career around them. One of these areas is consumer psychology. 

So what exactly is consumer psychology? Consumer psychology is the study of why we buy things. Which seems pretty self-explanatory. But in reality is a little bit more complicated than that. Psychologists aim to look at the cognitive processes which influence why we buy things, how we respond to marketing and the influence of external stimuli. Once you start learning about this stuff, you will never look at a supermarket, in the same way again.

One of my favourite board games to play at Christmas is the Logo game. You are probably thinking how does this relate, but stay with me! You may think that branding is pretty simple. A company comes up with a logo and that is that. But actually, it is a much more complicated process especially if the same brand has different logos or even different names, in different places around the world. Thanks to Data Label and their useful infographic I'll be exploring some of these differences and why they occur, in today's blog post.


When you need to buy a, I don't know, new car say, you may be more inclined to go to certain brands or models of car that you have seen advertised on the TV or in magazines. Normally our consumer decisions are based on memory. So, advertising companies generate adverts that are persuasive and rememberable. The easy and simplest way to do this is to keep repeating the advert, but this costs a lot of money and isn't always a viable option for small business owners. 

Instead, the advertising industry will capitalise on your social identity.  If a car company is making and pitching a car which is designed with a big family in mind, the adverts are going to include a middle class, a big average family with lots of kids, on holiday or doing the shopping while demonstrating the features of the car, to tap into the psyche, so you identify with the ad and ultimately buy the product. If you are trying to sell a fun family day out, you aren't going to include some OAPs because you won't connect with the audience and they will forget the ad.


When we are having a bad day, we want to make ourselves happy again and what better way to do that than go shopping! When we experience a low mood, we turn inwards and reflect on our own lives. We devalue ourselves, so to feel valued again, we buy more stuff. Expect all this stuff isn't going to bring ultimate and boy don't the shops know it! 

An Introduction To Consumer Psychology

All these self-care books, bubble baths, pamper packs etc. they all may lift your mood temporarily, but they aren't going to end your troubles. In fact, research shows that we are more likely to spend more when we are sad as our value of everything increases.  When in reality you don't need, another self-care book or your 76th bath bomb. In fact, constantly buying to cheer ourselves up, fuels a never-ending cycle which businesses want and love.


Your favourite brands logos weren't chosen by choice, in fact, there is nothing simple about choosing a logo. The aim of a logo is to elicit an emotional response. Our brains react subconsciously to the different shapes used in a logo. Take the 'Nike' logo, for example, the curved edged which ends in a point implies the action of movement. which is important when you are trying to sell trainers and sportswear which is suppose to optimise your performance. 

One of the greatest theories on the psychology of logos is the Gestalt theory. Gestalt means 'unified whole' meaning that when humans look at an image we look at the whole rather than the individual parts. Think the 'WWF' logo. You see a panda but there isn't actually a panda there, its just a collection of shapes which our mind processes, so we see the panda. Clever, eh?

You may be wondering why I am banging on about logos so much. But that's because the design of logos, is incredibly important, especially if the same brand has a different name or logo in different parts of the world. 

Take 'Walls' ice cream, for example, they are one of the biggest culprits for having a different logo across the world. But because of the signature swirl, you will be able to recognise the logo all over the world. The clever design of the swirl in the heart shape with the use of a red and white colour scheme implies love and familiarity, something which is important if you want people to buy your ice cream, no matter what continent they are in.  

An Introduction To Consumer Psychology

Another key example of this is the 'Walkers' crips logo. Consistency is so important. You want people to remember your logo and buy your product. That means, even when your customers are in a foreign country, a simple look at the packaging and design should let them know what they are getting even if they can't read the language. 

An Introduction To Consumer Psychology

You may be wondering why would a company want to change it's logo or name if consistency is so important. There are actually a few reasons for this, some of which are unavoidable. One of these reasons is language barriers, for example, Kentucky Fried Chicken is known by PFK in Canada’s French-speaking Quebec region due to local laws dictating that the restaurant takes the initials of the French name, Poulet Frit Kentucky. But due to the friendly white-haired face, we all recognise, looking for KFC in Canada isn't that difficult even if you don't know what PFK means.

I think that is enough information today, I don't want to bombard you will too much information! This is just the very tip of the iceberg, there is so much more to explore when it comes to consumer psychology. Nonetheless, I hope you found this interesting and if you didn't know about consumer psychology before, maybe you have learnt something new. 

Thanks for reading, as always X

Thank you to Data Label for providing me with the infographic for this post. 
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