Recession Proof-Understanding Buyer Motivation

What motivates people to buy a product is a complicated subject. Arguably, the motivator will be slightly different for each person. But, most people are driven to shop-and buy-by their insecurities. The object they purchase represents something to them that they feel they are lacking in. I think this is particularly true in women, who are your main gender demographic on Etsy. Women often shop as a means of filling a void. It might be stress relief, a means of getting over a breakup, or getting that one special item that is going to make you look like the prettiest gal at the bar, wedding, party, office, etc.

If you haven't already seen the movie 'Confessions of a Shopaholic" go out and rent it because it illustrates this concept perfectly. I know that it may sound like you are preying on people's fears as a seller and that is not the whole truth. What I am really suggesting that you do is figure out what "need" (want) that your buyers have and fill it. This is acheived through branding. High end packaging is an excellent way to offer that differentiation to your clients, especially around the holidays when people are searching for gifts.

The concept of insecurity shopping does apply to gift purchases, as the gift in question is a reflection of the gift giver. Are you someone who gives thoughtful gifts? Expensive gifts? Cool gifts? In that order, it makes the gift giver appear to be a better friend, richer friend or more fashionable/trendier friend. As you can see, even the purchase of a gift helps the buyer define who they are by allowing them to apply a label to themselves. That label will usually be what they wish they were or what they are trying to become. And I would argue that even the most confident person is always wishing they were percieved as being a little bit better in some way.

When buyers are shopping for themselves and are in "insecurity mode" they tend to make impulse purchases. I know I do! If you sell on your own website or through your blog, you must make purchasing easy and fast for this reason. If an impulse buyer is forced to go through more than 2 steps to complete a purchase they may experience buyer's remorse and cancel the transaction. When branding for this buyer, it is a great idea to come up with a tag line or business motto that defines what your products are in one sentence or less. It should be to the point and easy to remember in an emotional way. A few examples using the company name ACME are "ACME vintage...better than sex or chocolate!" or "ACME your outfit complete?" the second tag line is similar to the "got milk?" campaign in that it forces the buyer to question if they are without something that they need. The first appeals to an emotional craving that they would usually fill with the two "better than" options. You're saying, essentially, if you don't have a man and you're on a diet why not just shop in my store instead? It will make you feel just as good, if not better! These marketing tactics work on a subconcious level. If a buyer hears or sees these subtle suggestions enough times, they become saved on the hard drive so to speak. And when they get an urge or insecurity that relates to your tag line, they will automatically think of your shop. And therefore, they might return to it and even buy something.

Using buyer psychology and motivators is something that big business does everyday. You yourself have probably been led to purchase by one of the brilliant tactics thought up by an expensive marketing team. So don't feel bad about leading the shoppers to your site. The truth is when buyers are strongly motivated to spend by emotional urges, they are going to spend. Just make sure that they are spending in your store.


  1. bravo!!! excellent post, especially as we come upon the holidays. I think it is critical to brand your products and figure out just what your customer want. great post!

  2. Yes awesome post! And, can you believe my husband just got the movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic" from Netflix!-yesterday. Is that funny? I'm watchin it. I may watch that darn thing right now! I can watch it again with him.(we've only been married for 1 1/2 yrs)

  3. What good info. I've really been thinking about that lately and especially with the new year coming.

  4. Beautiful Blog . . .

    Happy New Year Designs

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