Psychological Factors That Influence Consumer Buying Behavior

by Kenrick Callwood; Updated September 26, 2017
Teenage girl paying in clothing store

Successful businesses understand how to leverage the different factors that influence consumer buying behavior to effectively market their products and maximize sales. Studies show that there are generally four main factors that play a role in the consumer's buying behavior. These factors include cultural factors, social factors, personal factors and psychological factors. The psychological factors that influence an individual's decision to make a purchase are further categorized into the individual's motivations, perceptions, learning and his beliefs and attitudes.


Close-up of two mature women at a shop window

The motivation is the drive that leads the consumer towards buying a product or service. If the motivation is high, meaning the need or perception of need is high, the individual will actively seek to satisfy that need. This results in the consumer deciding to buy the product or service. This factor is directly related to "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" which states that every individual will actively seek to satisfy physiological needs first, followed by safety, social, esteem and finally, self-actualization needs. Businesses that successfully leverage these needs will motivate consumers to buy their products.


Woman comparing dresses in store

MBA Notes World defines perception as, "The process by which people select, organize, and interpret information to form a meaningful picture of the world." Consumers make all manner of associations from their prior knowledge and experiences. It is difficult for a company that positions itself as a low cost retail store, Walmart for example, to sell expensive clothing once it has established its market positioning. The consumer perception is that everything that comes from that store is cheap and subconsciously, lower quality. Diamond dealers say their products come from Antwerp instead of Sierra Leone to avoid negative consumer perception.


Man looking in car window

Consumers are products of their experiences. They catalog each experience as good or bad for later use when a similar situation arises. These experiences influence the consumer buying behavior by changing the way they react to products similar to those they already have experience with. For example, many consumers choose to buy Toyota cars because they have had good experiences with their previous Toyota models. Companies that focus on the consumer experience often gain repeat business because the consumer does not feel the need to look anywhere else to fulfill that particular need. This often outweighs the fact that the competition may be cheaper or even better in some cases.

Beliefs and Attitudes

Woman looking in shop window, smiling, side view

Beliefs and attitudes greatly influence consumer buying behavior. Beliefs are the way people think about a particular subject or product. An attitude is the individual's consistently favorable or unfavorable evaluation, tendency or feeling about a particular subject. These beliefs and attitudes shape the consumer's perception of the product. These factors may be difficult to change because they stem from the individual's personality and lifestyle. Consumers often block information that conflicts with their beliefs and attitudes. They tend to selectively retain information or even distort the information to make it consistent with their previous perception of the product.

About the Author

Kenrick Callwood has been involved in Internet marketing since 2007 and his work has appeared in numerous online publications. His main areas of expertise are psychology, travel and Internet marketing. He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from California Polytechnic University.

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