If 95% of purchase decisions are made in the subconscious, how do you influence it?
I was on a girl’s weekend recently and we decided to do a spot of shopping after downing two bottles of Moet over lunch (because, why not?).
We were staying at the Star Casino on the Gold Coast which is directly opposite Pacific Fair (probably the biggest shopping destination on the GC with a mix of everyday and affluent brands at your footstep).
We strolled into Gucci, Hermes, Camilla and more (there was no time for any of the ‘everyday’ brands we’d usually buy from).
When we got to Louis Vuitton I was surprised to see how the brand had evolved. I’ve never been much of a Louis girl, but was impressed by how well it had fused its iconic brand codes with new vibrant colours and styles. All I can say is, well played LV. Well played.
To my surprise, I fell head over heels in love with a pair of frosted pink, cat-eye LV sunglasses. My word. Please let these be $500 or under I prayed to myself (as the budget I could justify in the moment). Sure $500 is a lot for a pair of sunglasses (especially when you have young children like I do who somehow sniff out and destroy anything of high value), but I was willing to dish the dosh for these pink beauties. When I peered at the price tag and saw they were $980, I sheepishly and swiftly put them back in hope that I wouldn’t have to answer to the assistant as to why I can’t have these sunglasses that looked ‘oh so good’ (in the words of my comrades).
Having spent a lot of time reflecting over the last few weeks (iso with the whole family in tow will make you do that), it dawned on me that there was a real theme to our trip. Moet, Louis, Gucci. We drank top shelf. Ate at the best restaurants. We shopped high street. Let loose. There was nothing sub-par about our entire weekend. Why? Because we deserved it. We work so hard every day and therefore should be able to do the things that make us feel good about ourselves (however reckless, expensive or impulsive they may be). After all, this is the life we believed we were destined for!
It then got me thinking about a quote I once jotted down at a marketing event I attended many moons ago.
“People don’t buy products and services. They buy better versions of themselves.”
(I didn’t capture the author at the time, so for the ‘internet’ record – I do not claim ownership).
It’s pretty obvious why a quote like this appeals to someone like me who gets paid to live and breathe brand building (especially after my tirade of label indulging – again, because I’m worth it).
But it goes a little deeper than that. Brand building is designed to boost recognition and affinity outside of any one purchase moment (to build demand when there is a purchase moment).
Brands that build affinity have stronger emotional ties to their people (both their customers and their employees).
And emotional ties have influence (cue brand equity studies).
Influence to make people spend more than they intended.
To buy the thing they didn’t need.
To pay more than something’s worth, because it triggers some underlying desire to be the things that it represents.
Now before you stop reading because you think you’re in the company of a purist brand marketer (which I assure you, you are not), I must preface the above and what follows with the notion that people don’t care about your brand.
They certainly don’t psychoanalyse it into emotions, and I can tell you now they have zero capacity for your 10 brand values, 3 brand promises and 55 reasons to believe.
But, the fact of the matter is, most purchase decisions are made in the subconscious.
And by most, Gerald Zaltman (Harvard Professor) found it to be 95%.
Our subconscious is driven by emotion.
Emotions that are rarely rational (even though if you asked me, I’d swear black and blue that my decision about something was purely logical).
What people say and do are often perplexingly different.
Because the subconscious is unconscious. It’s a bank of life’s experiences and reference points, some of which we couldn’t even verbalise if we tried.
And if decisions are coming from there, oftentimes you’re not even aware of the fact that you’ve already made your mind up, before it comes to mind (read that again).
So, I guess what I’m alluding to is when it comes to building brand appeal, think about your customer’s emotional motivations.
Is there a yearning for certainty? For safety. For the thrill. For status.
Then think about the motivation, through the lens of your brand:
What does your brand stand for?
What does it stand against?
Create ‘brand moments’ that emulate those things from the top to the bottom of the funnel (and from the inside of your organisation, out).
So, that when you activate your marketing and try to agitate an action, there’s already a reference point or association (that you’ve had a hand in) under the bonnet.
And be sure to keep it simple, because we’re all too busy to care, and the more you try to be, the less you become.