The forces that influence whether people buy include:

  1. Basic needs. We buy things to fulfill basic needs e.g. food.
  2. Convenience. You need something now and will take the easiest or fastest path to get it.
  3. Replacement. Sometimes you buy because you need to replace old things you have e.g., clothes that don’t fit.
  4. Scarcity. This could be around collectibles or a perceived need that something may run out or have limited availability in the future. Additionally, there’s a hope to gain a return on investment, such as collectibles or antiques; anything that accrues value over time.
  5. Prestige or aspirational purchase. Something that is purchased for an esteem-related reason or for personal enrichment.
  6. Emotional vacuum. Sometimes you buy to replace things you cannot have.
  7. Lower prices. Something you identified earlier as a want is now a lower price than before.
  8. Great value. When the perceived value substantially exceeds the price of a product or service. This is something you don’t particularly need; you just feel it’s too good of a deal to pass up.
  9. Name recognition. When purchasing a category you’re unfamiliar with, branding plays a big role. Maybe you had to buy nappies and you reach for Pampers because of your familiarity with the brand.
  10. Fad or innovation. Everybody wants the latest and greatest e.g. IPad. This could also be when someone mimics their favorite celebrity.
  11. Compulsory purchase. Some external force, like school books or an emergency e.g. plumber makes it mandatory.
  12. Ego stroking. Sometimes you make a purchase to impress/attract someone or to have something bigger and better than others. To look like an expert; to meet a standard of social status, often exceeding what’s realistically affordable to make it at least seem like you operate at a higher level.
  13. Niche identity. Something that helps bond you to an affiliation e.g. football club.
  14. Peer pressure. Something is purchased because your friends want you to.
  15. The “Girl Scout Cookie effect.” People feel better about themselves by feeling as though they’re giving to others; and especially when they’re promised something in return. Purchasing things they don’t need – or wouldn’t normally purchase – because it will help another person or make the world a better place incrementally is essential to certain buying decisions.
  16. Reciprocity or guilt. This happens when somebody – usually an acquaintance or someone rarely gift-worthy – buys you a gift or does something exceptionally nice and/or unnecessary. Now it’s your turn to return the favor at the next opportunity e.g. when the social decorum of a wedding dictates buying something or another.
  17. Empathy. Sometimes people buy from other people because they listened and cared about them even if they had the lesser value alternative.
  18. Addiction. These accounts for more sales than any of us can fathom. Can you think back to the last time you bought something and fully explain the reason why?
  19. Fear. From bomb shelters to a tyre pressure gauge – these things are bought out of fear.
  20. Indulgence. So long as you can afford it, sometimes there’s no better justification for that hour-long massage or that £50 bottle of 18-year single malt scotch other than “you’re worth it”.
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