Why We Buy What We Buy: The Curious Case of Consumer Psychology!

By asking a lot of people questions, or asking small groups of people more in-depth questions, can we really gather dependable insight into the desired buying behavior?

To re-phrase in simpler terms, can traditional market research really discover the elusive secret – why we buy?

And, most importantly, deducing if they will buy something in the future based on those ‘insights’, and what kind of ‘advertising’ can influence them into purchasing!


Do we really know why we do what we do?

So, asking people if they intend to buy something is like asking them if they intend to go to the gym! The answers most likely don’t match with actual future actions.

Because these are artificial data as a response to artificial situations.


funny market research joke

— funny findings of buying intent by market research 🙂


Take this real-life study for example. When asked if they are likely to buy a pair of ‘scented’ shoes, most respondents were negative about the concept of having aromatized footwear.

Yet, when the researchers actually put up two pairs of exact models of shoes in two different rooms and kept a scented pair in one of the rooms, a staggering 84% of participants chose to pick up the scented one over the normal one! And they were even ready to pay more for it!


So, what drives our purchase decisions?

According to Harvard psychologist Daniel Wegner, our conscious attention may not be responsible for our decisions; our subconscious is.

So, when our brain consciously makes a decision to buy something, it may be a result of a series of other decisions taken elsewhere in the brain already.

It is proven that the majority of buying behavior operates on an unconscious, emotional level.


if someone asked me… which half of my advertising is wasted I would probably say 90% is wasted but I don’t know which 90%.

– Niall Fitzgerald, Former Chairman of Unilever


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