What are the basic factors that influence our purchase decisions?
There are of course the objective factors such as employment, economic conditions, lifestyle, gender and age. When we talk about gender, we can say that women are target audience of advertising. They decide what to buy and why. They care about family as well as personal shopping. It also depends on where we do the shopping, whether online or offline. And of course, we buy different stuff when we are younger and older. From the psychological point of view, it is personality. In our personal setting, emotions play the most important role. When you “fall in love” with the thing, you buy it no matter what, regardless of whether you need it or can afford it.
What leads us to do that?
This is tied to our basic needs. Were they satisfied when we were kids, or not? Do we have the feeling of deprivation or deficiency? It is easy to fall into an illusion, that buying something helps us fill that gap. And we can go deeper to our emotional brain. Some studies show us, that we buy things, when we have the feeling that it is the „last chance“, because the pain of loss is stronger than the pleasure from gain.
Has the motivating factors changed historically?
Yes. Nowadays we are in the situation of prosperity. And our society doesn´t focus on sustainability, but consumerism.
Generally speaking, when are we most susceptible to go against our best economic interests when buying things?
I would say when we have stress. It can be a personal problem e.g. lack of sleep, hunger, partnership problems, family problems, problems at work. Or when good advertising catches our emotional brain and we just feel that we “need” the thing. But it can be positive stress as well. We like some goods so much, that we feel a lot of joy from buying them. In this case we often don´t think too much about whether we really need them. Another key factor is the sellers, who are using strategies to manipulate us to buy the things. Nowadays it can be online as well as in an outlet.
How often would you say we make or change our purchase decisions based on what we see, feel or learn at the point of purchase?
It depends on what are we going to buy and how long are we going to pay the loan. From my point of view the present situation is a bit problematic, when ubiquitous advertising pretend, that it is fine to buy the things we don´t have money for. But it is not. We are missing basic financial literacy in families as well as in the society. And a lot of families are at the risk of bankruptcy. Deciding upon emotions is a trap. But most people do that. They buy Christmas presents, vacations or other things they don´t really need, just because they “feel” they deserve them. Maybe they do. But when we use our cognitive part of the brain, we can see clearly, that if we have not been able to save up money till now, how can we do that retrospectively?
It is not just adults but also children whose senses and emotions are bombarded by sellers. Typically, parents do not want to deprive their child of the desired thing but at the same time they doubt the product (e.g. carbonated drink full of sugar and chemical colourings with a trendy superhero on the label). What would be your advice to parents in this situation?
Some kind of deprivation is healthy and important in our development. Our sources are limited, our bank account has a limit and we just can’t have anything we want to have. We need to teach this our kids. They need to learn how to control they needs and emotions. As they get older, we can teach them to have responsibility for their choices. They can have their own pocket money and decide, whether they want to buy what they want, or rationally choose from more options. So my advice to the parents is: „What do you want your kids to learn from this situation for the future?”
Lenka Bicanová, editorka FFN