Emotional and Logical Connections in the Purchase Decision Process

Heart and MindThere’s entirely too much focus on social networking and technologies among marketers today and far too little focus on how and why consumers make purchase decisions. In fact, this has been the case since the advent of Web 2.0 technologies and social media networking.

That being said, I’m a big proponent of social media and its value to brands; however, social media tactical execution must be tempered with strategy based on the consumer decision-making process, at least in for-profit businesses. Frankly, without first understanding what motivates a consumer to consider or make a purchase, content marketing, influence marketing, or any other marketing-of-the-day strategy won’thave a dramatic effect on the business’s bottom line. At least not in the long-term.

Most consumers make purchase decisions based on an emotion, which can manifest through peer pressure, personal relationships, advertising, location, economic conditions, etc. People are driven by their hearts first and foremost. Gut instinct, physical attraction, fear, love, etc…these are powerful motivators for consumers.

Typically, whatever emotion leads to the desire to purchase a product – or the selection of one product over another – creates a void in the mind of the buyer post purchase. Did I make the right choice? Should I have chosen the other product? Will I regret this in six months? All are common questions that move to the front of the consumer’s mind.  Of course, the larger the purchase the more evident and powerful this void is.

To fill in this void,  consumers will seek some form of logical justification to qualify the purchase decision. They will fabricate it or crowdsource it through peers, whatever it takes to put their minds at ease and kill the uncertainty that’s instinctually present after the purchase.  Sales and marketing teams must be cognizant  of the factors that create emotional connections with prospects and buyers, and create the content or outreach that satisfies each.

Emotional and Logical Connections in the Purchase Decision Process

Purchase decisions are erroneously considered to be rational by many sales and marketing folks and, as a result, many sales presentations, advertisements, and “sales slicks” focus on the listing of features and benefits or other similar proof statements.  “This is your problem and here is how our product satisfies that need.” Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

M.F. Luce conducted some research for the Journal of Consumer Research on the decision-making processes and emotions of consumers that demonstrated how emotions can derail rational decisions. The study highlighted consumers in need of a car, and actively shopping for one, who decided to NOT to purchase an automobile when presented with information and advertisements that included auto safety concerns. The negative emotions elicited from the safety information turned “likely to buy” consumers to “not likely to buy” consumers.

In another study  by Jennifer Lerner in 2000, reported in “Beyond Valence: Toward a model of emotion-specific influences on judgement and choice,” consumers categorized as fearful made pessimistic judgements of future events whereas those classified as angry made optimistic judgements. The point is, the emotional state of consumers dramatically affects the manner in which they make decisions. As marketers, we must consider this when establishing a brand, communicating with prospects, and creating advertisements.

Overcoming Emotional Decisions

Unless you’re selling a high-impulse item like ladies’ shoes, we can no longer rely on establishing emotional connections through social or other media to convert sales leads. In addition to the threat that people will choose to not purchase as outlined above, there are too many peer-to-peer connections that people can access instantly, thanks to social media and mobile technologies.

Marketers must bake-in the logical justification into the pre-purchase life cycle and not wait till the purchase is made to satisfy that customer need.  This is most often established today via content marketing or influencer marketing practices.

Through content marketing and social media engagement, you can offer additional resources or links to proof points, such as financial value, which demonstrate the cost savings earned by purchasing your product over another.

Alternatively, we can create a return on investment calculator that prospects can self-manage after being drawn in emotionally. Similarly, you may consider showcasing testimonials by like-minded customers who directly state how the product or service solved the pain point.

The final logical justification is a money-back guarantee or any tactic/offer that the consumer can use to convince themselves that they’ll not be stuck with a bad decision.

Whether you choose to push these messages out via influencers or include them in your content, the key is to ensure that the logical justification is inserted after an emotional connection is made, and not as the initial sales tactic itself. To gain the greatest result from connecting logical justification to emotional purchase decisions, you must first create the desire (through emotional connections) and then close them with logical justification.

Sensei Debates

1) Is the old concept of “purchases are made emotionally and justified by logic” still relevant today?

2) Can logical justification be tied into the emotional connection built pre-sale? Or does this negatively affect the emotional connection made or the sincerity of the engagement?

Share your thoughts.

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego

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1 comments
JamesWishpond
JamesWishpond

Sam, great article on a subject I'm fascinated with. About a month ago I wrote a a three-part blog series called 'The Psychology Behind a Successful Facebook Ad'. While researching, I came across a study in which a Harvard student worked with a South African bank, sending 50,000 letters offering short term loans. They varied the interest rate as well as included psychologically-influential cues. It turned out that having a picture of a wholesome, happy female in a corner of the letter had as much positive impact on the response rate as dropping the interest rate by four percentage points. So, to continue off your well-made point above, it sounds like the bank's best option would be to include a picture of a smiling woman with a two-point interest rate drop - emotional connection and logical basis for conversion (but maintaining their profit margin).

The same series also took a look at the effect of color in advertising (the color green, for instance, has a calming effect as we, primitively, associate it with water) To be honest with you, the whole research process half-convinced me that the majority of a purchase decision is emotional with logic playing a minor part. I mean, how much of the buying process is based on brand recognition and trust? Isn't that an emotional decision? Again, fascinating article. Thanks!

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  1. […] Understanding the emotional and logical connections in the purchase decision process is becoming a science more than an art.Most consumers make purchase decisions based on an emotion, which can manifest through peer pressure, personal relationships, advertising, location, economic conditions, etc. People are driven by their hearts first and foremost. Gut instinct, physical attraction, fear, love, etc…these are powerful motivators for consumers.Typically, whatever emotion leads to the desire to purchase a product – or the selection of one product over another – creates a void in the mind of the buyer post purchase. Did I make the right choice? Should I have chosen the other product? Will I regret this in six months? All are common questions that move to the front of the consumer’s mind. Of course, the larger the purchase the more evident and powerful this void is.To fill in this void, consumers will seek some form of logical justification to qualify the purchase decision. They will fabricate it or crowdsource it through peers, whatever it takes to put their minds at ease and kill the uncertainty that’s instinctually present after the purchase. Sales and marketing teams must be cognizant of the factors that create emotional connections with prospects and buyers, and create the content or outreach that satisfies each….  […]

  2. […] Understanding the emotional and logical connections in the purchase decision process is becoming a science more than an art. Most consumers make purchase decisions based on an emotion, which can manifest through peer pressure, personal relationships, advertising, location, economic conditions, etc. People are driven by their hearts first and foremost. Gut instinct, physical attraction, fear, love, etc…these are powerful motivators for consumers. Typically, whatever emotion leads to the desire to purchase a product – or the selection of one product over another – creates a void in the mind of the buyer post purchase. Did I make the right choice? Should I have chosen the other product? Will I regret this in six months? All are common questions that move to the front of the consumer’s mind. Of course, the larger the purchase the more evident and powerful this void is. To fill in this void, consumers will seek some form of logical justification to qualify the purchase decision. They will fabricate it or crowdsource it through peers, whatever it takes to put their minds at ease and kill the uncertainty that’s instinctually present after the purchase. Sales and marketing teams must be cognizant of the factors that create emotional connections with prospects and buyers, and create the content or outreach that satisfies each….  […]

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