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The Psychology of Holiday Shopping

What was the best bargain you found over the Thanksgiving holiday?

From Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, consumers expressed confidence in the economy and spent a total of $12.8 billion, a 15 percent increase over 2015. Prior to Black Friday, the 2016 PWC Holiday Shopping outlook report predicted shoppers will likely spend an average of $1,121 each – 10 percent more than last year. The Deloitte Holiday Survey for 2016 indicated that shoppers anticipate spending just as much online as they do in stores, which represents a significant milestone in holiday purchase behavior. So, how do retailers make us buy?

At this time of the year, in particular, retailers successfully tap into our compulsion to shop with incredible deals and offers. Many shoppers feel a strong need to take advantage of the heavy discounts and buy everything they can before the holiday season ends and all the deals are gone.

Studies show that the region of the brain associated with dopamine production, “the feel good” hormone, is activated while shopping for deals. Similarly, retail therapy can be a thrilling and irresistible experience for shoppers and, despite discrepancies in their wallets, there is still a desire to indulge. In the holiday season, impulse buying is inevitable and often budgets go to the wayside.

Peering into a decorated holiday window or finding a hard-to-find toy appears to tap into the brain’s reward center, triggering the release of brain chemicals that give you a “shopping high.” This Is Your Brain at the Mall: Why Shopping Makes You Feel So Good

Brands that successfully capitalize on “the holiday shopper’s brain” (i.e. the way people think, feel and act during the holiday season) use psychological manipulation to influence purchase decisions. Here are three of the factors that trigger consumers to buy.

1. Splurge Urge

People often buy things they don’t need. Psychologists believe the tendency for impulse buying is associated with the desire for a sense of empowerment and boosting self-esteem. Studies show that we feel a sense of achievement when finding an amazing deal.

2. Loss Aversion, or FOMO

Promotional offers through discounts/sales are created to trigger our fear of loss. The fear of missing out (FOMO) drives our motivation to take advantage of opportunities to purchase items at unbelievable prices. In this case, we buy mostly because we want to avoid the negative feeling that comes with missing an opportunity.

3. Bargain Hunting

Deals are designed to give the consumer the perception that they are getting value for a less amount. We love to feel like we are saving money and that motivates us to buy. In fact, sometimes we find ourselves purchasing some items that we never use. Because we are so focused on how amazing the bargain is, we lose sight of whether we want or need the item.

Using psychological triggers, retail brands can increase customer purchases, reduce cart abandonment rates, and acquire new customers. To maximize this growth potential, it is imperative for retailers to understand the Customer BuyWay and create an integrated, multichannel marketing strategy to attract, engage and convert. Learn how to harness the power of your brand’s story, strategy, and systems to drive long-term marketing growth in our ebook Transformational Marketing: Moving to the TopRight.

 

Follow us @TopRightPartner and connect with Dave on LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Flickr

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