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3 core psychological needs of consumers

3 core psychological needs of consumers

As a B2C brand, your ability to meet consumers’ needs ties in closely with the success you’re able to achieve. Luckily, there are a few psychological elements that can help. And they aren’t expected to change anytime soon. 

We were first introduced to this idea by Dr. Matt Johnson, professor of consumer psychology and marketing at Hult International Business School and author of “Branding that Means Business,” on the mid-season finale of Market with Me Quikly (Season Two). Then we were introduced to it again on the seventh episode with Liad Weiss, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Business (coming soon!).

For a clear picture of what consumers need from brands, take a look at these three psychological needs:  

1. Trust

Consumer behavior, purchase decisions and brand loyalty all revolve around the existence of one central emotion: trust. Consumers are often weighing a number of factors internally during the consumer journey (price point, relevance, quality, etc.), and whether or not they trust a brand or it’s products impacts what choice they’ll make going forward.

In psychology, trust is commonly associated with social proof, the idea that individuals determine appropriate behavior for themselves in a situation by examining the behavior of others involved, especially if others involved are similar to them.

To feel confident and safe during interactions with brands, consumers will often rely on tactics that help increase trust. Testimonials, reviews, best-seller sections and other forms of information help consumers make decisions they can stand by. (Read more about social proof tactics.)

2. Community

Consumers aren’t looking to brave the consumer journey alone. They have a desire for belonging — and you can provide it.

Community is a core motivator for consumers. Being that consumers are social creatures and base many decisions on the beliefs of others, the value of community cannot be overstated. 

Brand community and brand loyalty are often on two sides of the same coin. Brand community not only offers consumers with a sense of security (they know others like them trust the products), but it also allows consumers to feel more connected with their own interests, which can lead to stronger feelings of loyalty. 

3. Brand Humanization

Designed to help consumers form a greater level of connection and trust with a brand, brand humanization is created by attaching human personality and emotions to a brand, oftentimes in hopes of making consumer buying decisions easier.

As Johnson explained in his episode of Market With Me Quikly, “[consumers] treat brands as people.” Brands are given a personality or set of characteristics that are used to help consumers determine if said brand is trustworthy.

James Pardoe, partner of Joie Brands, a boutique brand agency specializing in brand humanization, said “evaluating risk is much easier when [there’s a] human being with a personality, rather than an emotionless entity…” and that evaluation also helps consumers decide if it’s safe to make a purchase. 

Often, a brand's personality is interchangeable with the personality of its customers. How do they talk? What are they interested in? What social media platforms are they on?  These are the questions and (corresponding answers) that will help inform your brand decisions as they relate to brand humanization.

With a field as broad as consumer psychology, having a reliable list of brain science do’s and don’ts to help you better serve customers is essential. Keeping these three concepts in mind, you can gain a better understanding of your customers, inspire loyalty and motivate action.


Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.

Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.