Understanding Motivation

What motivates consumers to buy?

Why do we buy what we do? This is not an easy question to answer, especially when it refers to our choice of brands, or to the kind of spending economists have long called discretionary. Yet it underlies the repeated requests by managers for 'consumer insight'.

The problem

If you ask someone why they chose a particular brand on a particular occasion, they will be unable to give you a full
reason: all you will get is a post-rationalisation. This is because brand choice and indeed the purchase itself is often unconsidered, and unconscious (1, 2, 18). Choices are, however, rooted in the individual's background, instincts, feelings, attitudes, values and personality. The process is complex.

That provides, in a nutshell, the reason for the problem. It is all in the mind, and not only do outsiders have great difficulty accessing how an individual's mind works, individuals themselves have only limited insight, too. Yet it is insight into these factors that can guide the successful planning and implementation of marketing communications.