What was the last thing you bought?

Was it a product or a service?

Now, what made you make that purchase decision? Usually, we can’t directly say why we buy the things we do because there are many different variables at play with each purchase decision.

There are a lot of aspects that go into enticing someone to purchase a good or service. But when the average consumer makes their final decision to buy something, the two main things they have thought about are:

  1. Is it affordable?
  2. Does it have a benefit or utility for me?

The consumer buying process is more effectively applied to larger purchases (a home, TV, or computer) but there are elements of this buying process within every purchase.

If we are craving a sugary drink, chances are we are looking for convenience, affordability, and a tasty, well-known brand to satisfy our needs. We may go to the closest corner store and purchase a Coca-Cola, a product that combines all of these elements into one, simple product.

But purchasing decisions become much more complex when there is more money involved.

The different modes of consumption

To go into specifics, every person has a transactional mode and a relational mode of shopping. And the “right” thing to say can be determined only when you know which mode the shopper is in.

Transactional shoppers are focused only on today’s transaction and give little thought to the possibility of future purchases. Their only fear is of paying more than they had to pay. Transactional shoppers are looking for price and value. They enjoy the process of comparing and negotiating and will likely shop at several stores before making their decision to purchase.

Transactional shoppers do their own research so they won’t need the help of an expert. Consumer Reports are published primarily for the transactional shopper. Because they enjoy the process, transactional shoppers don’t consider their time spent shopping to be part of the purchase price.

Relational shoppers, on the other hand, consider today’s transaction to be one in a long series of many future purchases. They are looking less for a product than for a store in which to buy it. Their only fear is of making a poor choice. Relational shoppers will purchase as soon as they have confidence. Will your store and your staff give them this confidence they seek?

Every person has a transactional mode and a relational mode of shopping, so don’t be surprised when you see yourself in both descriptions. You, like all other shoppers, are extremely transactional in certain product and service categories and wholly relational in others.

Due to the fact that shoppers in transactional mode will shop all over town and love to negotiate, merchants often wrongfully conclude that most shoppers stay in transactional mode. But in truth, more purchases are quietly made by customers in relational mode.

On top of consumer purchasing modes, we all have basic needs that must be met, that is, we buy things to fulfill what Maslow describes as the bottom of his hierarchy; things like food and shelter. Furthermore, Convenience, replacement, scarcity and even peer pressure (among many others) can entice us into purchasing just about anything, given it has the right price.

Now when we are on the supplier’s side, we must take all of these factors into consideration when creating, marketing, and selling any product or service. If you are to encourage consumers to buy our product, it is essential that you prioritize the benefits your product brings.

If you are selling a sugary drink, it will without a doubt be the convenience and cost-effectiveness of the short-lived benefit your product will bring. Conversely, if you are selling a consulting service over the internet, your services goal will lie in the long-term benefits your consumers can gain through consumption, and thus, convenience will not be a top priority, but rather, the trustfulness and effectiveness of the service you are providing.

If you are going to encourage consumption of any product, you must put yourself in the consumers’ shoes and ask, “would I buy what I am about to sell?” and if not, “why?”

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