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How to use marketing psychology to better serve consumers

How to use marketing psychology to better serve consumers

When a lot of people first hear about marketing psychology, a marketing strategy that focuses on the human behavior behind purchase decisions, it can be a bit of a shock to know that the way we shop isn’t just based on what products we believe are necessities, but why we think a product or service will better our quality of life. We learn that our brain, and all of its inner workings, help to influence our buying decisions and that, in some cases, our natural responses can be the main reason we made one choice over another.

Sounds pretty cool, right? Marketing psychology is also largely beneficial in helping you better serve your customers. We spoke with Sue Moore, founder of Virtual Gold Dust, a marketing psychology consulting firm in Northern Ireland, to help us dive deeper into the benefits of marketing psychology

Here’s what we talked about:

How marketing psychology can help you ethically serve your customers

Knowing that marketing psychology can come with so many tangible benefits for brands, can leave questions about how many advantages it offers consumers. It wouldn’t be a surprise if you felt the need to call the ethics of marketing psychology into question. After all, it’s a tool that connects the mind of consumers and the occasionally controversial world of marketing. 

We asked Moore just how ethical marketing psychology is and if it works in the favor of consumers like it does for brands. Her answer? It’s up to you.

“If you’re a responsible marketer you’re not going to be using [marketing psychology] to persuade people to purchase things that they don’t want," said Moore. "You have to come to marketing psychology from the position of integrity. The other side of it is that marketing psychology feels quite broken for lots of people — it can feel quite manipulative, but thinking about how people behave and why they make the decisions that they do kind of makes people more central to marketing. it’s a bit more human-centered.”

When your morals are at the forefront of your marketing strategies, marketing psychology can also encourage healthier habits. 

“Marketing psychology isn’t all about brain-washing and subliminal messaging. It’s actually about thinking ‘What do my customers need? What do they want?’ and really focusing your marketing on that,”  said Moore. “There are lots of responsible companies who are trying to use marketing psychology to encourage people to have better habits, who are using behavioral marketing to nudge people to make better decisions.” 

How are they doing this? By using the nudge theory.

“Nudge theory is used by a lot of social policy makers. Instead of compelling people to do things like take a vaccine, a lot of governments and social policy makers will decide to nudge people towards that by giving them incentives to do it rather than making it compulsory,” said Moore, who went on to explain how marketers could use the same idea to encourage people to build positive habits through their brand.

A good incentive is typically one that focuses on concepts your consumers already find attractive. This can be loyalty points that tally up to some sort of discount or deal, customer rewards that show your customers you appreciate them or something of the sort. 

Marketing psychology can make for an easier shopping experience 

When it comes to human behavior, we know that people like things to be easy, and their shopping experience is no exception. Moore says that marketing psychology is an optimal solution for brands and consumers who want the buying journey to offer a sense of ease.

“The whole business of marketing psychology is about making the buying experience frictionless for consumers. There’s a kind of spectrum behind why people buy things — there’s needing it at one end versus wanting something to signal your status to people at the other. The first step for a lot of marketers is figuring out where their product sits [on the spectrum]. Is it a want or is it a need [or] a sort of luxury?” said Moore.

Then your brand's practice of psychology can come through in everything from your website design to the words you use. 

“A lot of psychology is built into UX design, making it easy to see where you are on a website, or understanding where people’s eyes go when they’re on your site. What are they looking at? What makes it easier for them to make the next step? Some of that psychology can be built into your web design, some of it can be built into your packaging and the things that we hold in our hands. It makes it easier for our brains to interpret what we’re doing,” said Moore. “Marketing psychology can also show you the optimal words that’ll give a consumer a good feel of what they’re buying and [what] their experience will be.”

It’s quite understandable that a brand’s functionality and ease of use has a lot to do with a consumer’s shopping experience. If a product’s dispenser doesn’t work or a website is difficult to navigate, the chances of a consumer thinking highly of their experience in the future is slim. On the other hand, if a product is really nice and your customer receives compliments, they may feel as though they’ve made a worthwhile purchase. 

Using the right marketing psychology tactics can also give consumers a stronger sense of security around their buying decisions. Moore said psychology principles like social proof, which happens when humans base their decisions off of those made by their peers or others, can influence feelings of relief in consumers who might experience stress around making a purchase.

“A lot of [these] types of experiences have to do with social proof. It’s seeing other people doing what you’re thinking of doing and kind of leaning into that and saying, ‘Well okay, if other people are doing that then it must be safe for me to do it and I can feel comfortable.’ That takes a lot of the friction out of your buying behavior,” said Moore. “This is really reassuring; change is really stressful for our brains in any way, so if you can lean into the idea that other people like something and you can look at testimonials or reviews, that makes the behavior change or product purchase that much easier.” 

Marketing psychology isn’t just about bettering a brand — there are plenty of benefits to go around. So much so, that more satisfied customers and easier shopping experiences are just scratching the surface of what marketing psychology can do.


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.