When it comes to sales and marketing, understanding consumer motivation can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a colossal waste of time. The highest quality products in the world will not sell if they do not meet a consumer need. Of course this is more easily said than done. Even asking potential and/or existing customers will not necessarily reveal the true nature of their internal needs and desires. For this and many other reasons, we rely on high quality data analysis and consumer feedback loops to understand consumer motivation.
The Basics of Consumer Motivation
So what does consumer motivation look like exactly? That can vary dramatically from consumer to consumer, demographic to demographic, and industry to industry. For example, the motivations of a young woman shopping for business clothing would be very different from a grandmother shopping for a grandchild. No matter what the details, the flow of consumer motivation from unconscious desire to eventual purchase might look something like this:
- A need exists. This can be a concrete need such as physical hunger for food or something more mercurial like a need to belong within a certain social group.
- That need becomes a motivation which creates a consciousness of the disconnect between the need and the lack of a solution. This is when most consumers begin to research options.
- A motivation becomes a concrete desire for a specific product or service. Individuals might decide whether they want Indian food, Thai food, Italian, etc.
- The consumer will then make a decision and fulfill their needs with a product or service. This is not the end of the process, as the customer’s experience will inform future decisions when it comes to fulfilling a similar need.
Understanding Motivation and Consumer Touchpoints
As an extension of the above, we can understand that consumers go through a journey from need-state to purchase decision, and to future purchase decisions. Various touchpoints exist along this journey which allow marketing campaigns to influence consumer behavior. It is also important to understand that consumer motivation may evolve over the path to purchase journey, meaning that different marketing strategies may be more or less effective at different touchpoints.
A touchpoint can be considered any time when a potential consumer interacts with a brand. Fully fledged marketing campaigns should seek to identify and utilize touchpoints that include need state, motivation, desire, and purchase decision whether the individual is online shopping, on foot, or anything in between.
Four Consumer Behavior Theories
Of course everything we have discussed thus far has been high level. Understanding in-depth consumer motivation is far more complex. There are a variety of consumer behavior theories which seek to explain consumer behavior throughout the purchase process. Here are four (4) of the most prominent consumer behavior theories:
- Motivation-need theory: perhaps the most self explanatory of the four theories listed here, the motivation-need theory is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. The basic premise being that all consumer needs are based on survival, safety, love, esteem, and fulfillment.
- Theory of reasoned action: introduced in the 60’s, the theory of reasoned action posits that all consumers are acting based on reasonable assumptions and past experiences to make purchase decisions.
- Engel, Kollet, Blackwell (EKB) Model: a more detailed expansion on the two previous theories, the EKB model relies on consumers going through a five step process along the purchase journey. Understanding consumer motivations at each step is then used for effective branding efforts.
- Hawkins Stern impulse buying: in stark contrast to the theory of reasoned action, this model believes that consumers are inherently impulsive in a predictable manner.
Aligning Your Brand with Your Customers
Understanding customer motivation is not just a one-way street. Instead, effective marketing campaigns view consumer motivations and consumer behaviors as part of an ever-evolving customer feedback loop. As part of this strategy, it is vital to align your branding efforts with the needs and desires of your consumer base. If your demographic values youthful energy, so too should your marketing materials. Both internal and external brand alignment is vital for creating a clear and effective brand message.
A caveat to this advice is to be wary of adapting your brand message to quickly or too dramatically due to customer feedback. There is a fine line between adapting to customer feedback and confusing customers with rapid changes to branding materials. The most effective brands evolve over time without losing their core brand identity. Consider that the world’s most prominent brands have iconic slogans, brand personality, and even color schemes which hold true over the years.
Consumer Data Analysis from Clock Tower Insight
Clock Tower Insight is proud to work with a wide range of B2C and B2B industries, including retail, CPG, food service, and advertising organizations. We believe in using powerful, cutting edge research to offer brand-specific insights. With this insight, we work with brands to turn the data into actionable information, and eventually into business growth. Our services include brand positioning, customer experience management, and much more.
Learn more about how Clock Tower Insight can help your business today.