Do We Buy Things On Impulse Or Because We Rationalise It?

Before we dive into this blog post, I want you to watch this video ad by Jimmy Choo.

Evie Studios Jimmy Choo shoes

Keep it in your mind whilst you read the rest — it’ll make sense I promise!


Can you remember the last purchase you made?

No, not a necessity purchase like groceries or petrol, but something that brought joy and value to your life.

What was it?

Was it a car or a house? A new TV, smartphone or gaming console you ’d been hyped about? Or possibly something as simple as a purse or necklace?

Evie Studios  young couple sits in bed and looks at laptop

At first glance, it may seem that our purchasing decisions have much more to do with the careful analysis of needs than anything else — after all, how long did you spend weighing up the options of your potential choices?

But when you take the time to evaluate it further, another story emerges. Maybe you elected to purchase a Volvo over a Ford because of their reputation for safety.

Evie Studios  man reaches into case of luxurious watches

You selected a Hermes over a Coach handbag because of the assumed status factor of carrying one. Maybe you chose PlayStation over Xbox because of the games they carry.

So when consumers are faced with endless choices through social media engagements and recommendations, how do they make their decisions?

What could influence someone to select one brand of a vehicle over another — even though both have the same basic function of getting us where we want to go?

The simple answer is emotion.

Feelings — The Reason Behind What We Buy

This idea of emotions ruling consumer behaviour is certainly not new — in fact, it was a major hypothesis of author Martin Lindstrom in his 2008 bestseller, ‘Buyology: Truth And Lies About Why We Buy’.

Evie Studios two young women are shopping together with bags in nice mall

Lindstrom based his analysis on research in the field of ‘Neuromarketing,’ which he performed on 2,000 global volunteers over the course of three years. During his study, participants were exposed to a wide variety of advertising and branding materials with the hopes of targeting what stimuli actually connected with the respondents.

What he found was that the products and ads which most appeal to consumers are the ones that utilise a sensory aspect.

For example, think the bright primary colours of a McDonald’s or the distinctive smell of PlayDoh.

The Power Of Community

Lindstrom also recognised that this powerful marketing approach is strengthened when brands combined the sensory element with rituals that create a sense of community. This is because brand rituals generate a self-reinforcing cycle of brand loyalty thanks to three powerful forces: routine, a sense of belonging, and trust.

Evie Studios influencer shows off bright coloured makeup

Perhaps the most notable component of this practice is the idea that our sense of community is heightened by the act of sharing products and purchases with others. That’s why it’s common to see advertisements with parents teaching their children the proper way to eat their Cheerios, for example, or social media campaigns encouraging fans to share images of themselves, tag friends they want to share prizes with, or upload a video of how they use something.

Our sense of community is heightened by the act of sharing products and purchases with others

It’s all about appealing to our inner need to belong and to be part of a group. So if you love to dunk your Oreos in milk or add a slice of lime to your Corona — then consider yourself a part of a tribe made up of millions around the world who do that as well.

Appealing To Impulses

So, now that we understand how brands can manipulate our emotions in building brand loyalty, how else can marketers have an effect on our consumer behaviour?

Sometimes it’s as simple as putting a product in the right spot in store, or a well targeted sponsored post to entice us at the right time.

We’ve all made at least one impulse buy, right? That time you ran to your local Kmart to grab a glass to replace your broken one, only to pick up several other items on the way to the checkout. A new scarf. A bath bomb for “self-care”. Maybe even a deeply discounted Apple Watch.

Evie Studios women walks happily out of mall with bouquet of flowers

So why does this happen over and over again? Is it poor compulsion control, or is it due to how shopping makes us feel?

According to a recent Psychology Today study, the answer is actually a bit of both — some individuals do have a documented personality trait that makes them predisposed to buying things on impulse, but more often than not, it’s because impulse buys are driven by a desire to experience happiness, and the purchase is seen as a way to elevate their mood.

Simply put, those who tend to impulse buy, experience more anxiety and difficulty maintaining their feelings, which could make the act of controlling the urge to spend difficult. Therefore, giving in to the idea of buying a simple item to “make them feel better” — even for a moment — is often the driving force behind their decisions.

Marketers count on this, and strategically place products throughout stores, while providing supporting branding and online promotion that showcases the item as an “affordable luxury” to be enjoyed. This, in turn, helps the consumer rationalise the purchase.

Recognising The Tipping Point

You may be familiar with what’s commonly known as the ‘Tipping Point’, made popular in recent years by New York Times writer Malcolm Gladwell. This is the crucial moment where an idea, social norm or trend becomes universally accepted and, therefore, spreads like wildfire through social media, mass media and the community at large.

Evie Studios young woman tries on clothes in store

In terms of brand marketing, shaping this event has everything to do with creating a need, while identifying emotional appeal to tap into our desire to be a part of a group. For this to occur, Gladwell identifies three kinds of individuals that must come together at the right moment:

  • Connectors — People who are actively involved in many different segments of society and have the innate ability to bring people together

  • Mavens — People driven to help others make informed decisions based on their area of knowledge and expertise

  • Salespeople — Charismatic people who have the ability to move others towards an intended goal

Brands looking to create their own tipping point need to work closely with these personality types. Once identified, brands can work with these distinct personalities by appealing to their underlying sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with influencing others.

So how do we use this to sell?

It’s simple really.

Never talk about the benefits or features of your products — only the emotion!

Well, at the beginning anyway. Because people are more inclined to ‘feel’ out a purchase rather than rationalise it, as marketers we need to appeal to their emotional, impulsive side — the side that seeks instant gratification and happiness — first in the sale.

Highlight how the product will make the buyer feel, how it will improve their life, the status it brings, the satisfaction of the buy!

Evie Studios drake with diamond tennis necklace

For example if you want to sell a diamond tennis bracelet, talk about how every celebrity is rocking this bracelet at the moment. Mention how wearing this on your arm, feeling the weight of those diamonds, brings a sense of pride and belonging to an elite group. “How satisfying would it be to be the FIRST of your friends to have an authentic diamond tennis bracelet?”

Once you’ve hooked them, they’ll either buy or want to know more.

Then you hit them with the benefits.

“This diamond tennis bracelet has gorgeous ‘fire’ to it’s diamonds. Just look at how it sparkles at the tiniest hint of light. Look at the myriad of colours that disperse out from your wrist!”

Surely by now, they’ll buy. But if not, bring in the features to get them convinced it’s not just a ‘feel good’ product but a quality product. Here you’ll talk about the cut of the diamond, the karats of the gold used, etc, etc.

The further down ‘the funnel’ your buyer gets, the more likely to buy, but no one buys from hearing the features first.

How do I demonstrate the emotion if I’m not personally there to sell?

In these modern times, most of us sell our primary products online if you’re not a business that provides services (cafes, car dealerships, production houses like us). With this it can be especially hard to sell without your sales pitch in person.

And that’s why we love video marketing.

Video is incredibly important as a marketing tool and is insanely effective. You can demonstrate the emotional value of your product instantly without saying a single word.

Evie Studios cara del walking in jimmy choo shoes

Now remember the video ad you watched at the start of this blog post?

If you didn’t watch it earlier, make sure you check out this video ad by Jimmy Choo.

It so perfectly encapsulates the elite community that you automatically become a part of when you purchase and wear Jimmy Choo shoes. It’s shows the respect and reactions you can expect when you wear the shoes and the lifestyle you can lead.

Evie Studios  care delevigne in red dress new york jimmy choo

And they never once say a ‘sales pitch’. It’s all in the imagery, in the storytelling. And it’s so insanely powerful, you’re actually nuts if you don’t replicate this kind of storytelling in your own selling — whether it be video or in person.

In fact viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text, and a further 64% of consumers will make a purchase after watching branded videos on social platforms.

And with a powerful story like Jimmy Choo’s ad, you’re guaranteed sales!

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