Do you know why your customers buy stuff from you?
Do you know why you buy stuff from other people?
Most people will begin to answer this question by referring to psychologist Abraham Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, affirming that any buying decisions can be explained by the levels within Mazlow’s pyramid of human needs.
At the widest basic needs level people will buy water because they’re thirsty — but they may decide to buy La Croix sparkling water because mentally they may be in the middle of the pyramid and seeking a feeling of belonging or friendship and buy this popular beverage brand because it will help them fit in with everyone else.
That middle area of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is where I think most of the buying decisions are made.
There may be a real physiological need (the wide base of the pyramid), there may be a desire to achieve one’s potential (the narrow top of the pyramid), but the emotional need to connect with other people and to feel like you belong to a group (the middle of the pyramid) is where I think that emotional decision to buy is confirmed.
When I first got started in sales I recall one sales trainer saying that people will almost always buy based on emotional reasons and then use logic to justify the decision. Fast-forward 30-some years later I have to say that it’s a statement that has held true in my experience.
Frankly, I catch myself doing the exact same thing on most of my own purchases. I needed new shoes — that’s a safety and security need I can logically justify. But did I need bright yellow Chuck’s? That feels more like an esteem or prestige need if I’m going to be honest about it.
How do you position your product or service in regard to your customers?
Is it a must-have or a nice-to-have?
Where does owning it fall on a personal Hierarchy of Needs?
There is nothing wrong if what you sell sits in the top half of the pyramid, especially if you’re focused on attracting the type of customers who have the money to invest in things that make them feel better about themselves and their personal potential — but I’ll bet you can make them feel better about their buying decisions if there is a nugget of logical affirmation built into your product/service that will help your customer justify their investment with the more fundamental needs of safety, security, food, shelter, and rest.