Consumer Psychology by Definition

How Consumer Psychology creates communication and marketing success


The mission of communication and marketing is to influence behavior. Understanding what it is that influences human behavior is the domain of psychology.

Every step in the communication, marketing, and sales process contains consumer psychological touch-points that make the difference between success and failure.

Identifying Behavioral Influence

Behavior results from the consumers’ psychological and emotional response to concepts, product, brand, and communication.

Consumer psychology applies techniques used in clinical psychological practice to identify these responses, even those experienced unconsciously.

This process reveals the criteria that consumers use make judgments and identifies the emotions that cause them to act.

Applying Psychological Insights

Every consumer act is a psychological event. For marketing and communication strategies to be successful, they must be built on a foundation of in-depth psychological understanding of customers and prospects.

When we understand how consumers think and feel we can develop strategies to influence their behavior

Consumers actively engage (consciously and unconsciously) in the evaluation and judgment of marketing activity, including brands, advertising, digital media, public relations and other communication. These appraisals cause and shape consumer behavior.

What your brand looks like inside the mind of the consumer

To discover these appraisals we view the company / brand  from the perspective of the mind of the consumer.  We use research methods adapted from clinical psychology to identify the:

  • Criteria consumers have for satisfaction of their needs and desires in a product / service category
  • Emotions that characterize consumers’ experience of the category
  • Judgments consumers make about category brands based on their knowledge and previous experience
  • Emotional relationships that consumers have with category brands
  • Influence that these judgments and emotions have on consumer behavior

Strategy is the foundation of marketing and communication success

Successful strategies are built on the foundation of the unique consumer motivations and emotions associated with a category and brand.

Five facts about emotion that marketing and communication executives need to know

1.) Purchase intent is determined by emotions experienced in consumer judgments.

2.) It is emotion, not information, that moves consumers from interest and intent to the act of buying.

3.) Emotions have greater influence on brand loyalty than trust and other judgments based on brand attributes.

4.) Positive consumer-brand emotional relationships must be nurtured to be sustained long-term.

5.) Most emotional response and processing occurs unconsciously. Traditional research methods only explore the conscious mind. For emotion research to be successful it must probe the subconscious.

These are just a few “must know” facts about emotion. For information about how your company can learn more about emotion and how it can be used to make your marketing and communication strategies more effective, see the SONSA page.

The big opportunity in digital media is not the next new technology. It is adding EMOTION to existing websites and social media.

The promise of digital and social media is promoting consumer engagement, creating brand community, and developing customer loyalty. Technology alone is not enough to make this happen.

On the receiving end of a marketer’s digital activity is a human being whose perceptions, decisions, and behavior are controlled primarily by emotions. Digital media success requires emotion.

For years, digital bandwidth limitations prevented communication of rich video and visual content that included emotion. Today, digital and social have the power of traditional media, but still communicate as though there were technical constraints.

Using emotion effectively in websites, social media, and mobile is the key to leveraging digital to be the leading contributor to brand success. Marketers can achieve this by:

  • Elevating digital and social from communicating “what” (information) – to communicating “why” (emotional experience)
  • Comprehending the meaning of consumers’ social media interaction by understanding its context, which is the emotion associated with the category and brand

The first step in maximizing the opportunities presented by digital and social media is to develop an understanding of the psychological and emotional factors which determine consumer reactions to company and brand messages.

The experience of luxury is not created by the features of a product – but by the emotions it evokes in the mind of the consumer.

Emotion is more important to the marketing of luxury brands than it is to any other class of products.

Discover the psychological foundations of successful luxury brand marketing and communication:

  • Identify the brand’s unique characteristics and uncover their psychological meanings
  • Uncover the emotions that the target consumers associate with the category and the brand

Communicate these foundations of luxury to the consumer:

  • Apply these psychological insights to create marketing and communication strategies.
  • Express the brand’s meaning and values through consumer experience

Discovering psychological motivations and emotional influences requires specialized techniques and expertise

The psychological and emotional factors that influence consumer behavior cannot be discovered through traditional research methods.

We have adapted concepts and techniques used in clinical psychological practice and applied these to marketing and communication.

This approach enables us to:

  • Identify the criteria and judgments used by the target market to evaluate our client’s company and brands, as well as those of competitors in the category
  • Reveal category and brand related emotions that determine behavior
  • Apply these insights to shape brand personality and narrative
  • Discover the “words-that-work” – the key words and phrases that express consumers’ emotional perceptions of the category and brand

We use proprietary methodologies which have been validated by years of use in clinical settings.

These include:

  • ConsPsych Qualitative – applying principles of psychological and emotional discovery to the traditional focus group and one-on-one in-depth interviews
  • Projective interviews – using techniques which reveal perceptions and emotions on both conscious and unconscious levels
  • Analytic technique – produces a mental map of consumers’ perceptual and emotional view of categories and brands

These methods provide insights that are the foundation of the strategic recommendations we make to influence consumer behavior and achieve client business objectives.

Consumer psychology and emotion seminars for your company’s marketing and communication executives

We offer seminars for organizations in all industries to educate marketing and communication executives in the critical psychological and emotional factors which determine customer behavior.

Seminars present key concepts of consumer psychology and emotion, focusing discussion on the host company’s category and brands.

Seminars are conducted on-site to minimize attendees’ time away from the office.

Seminar attendees can expect to learn:

– How to view your company / brand from “inside the mind” of the customer.

– Why emotion is the essential ingredient to building your business.

– Essential facts about emotion that executives need to know for effective marketing and communication.

– Key factors about psychological and emotional strategies. Including:

  • How to create them for marketing and communication
  • Critical strategic components that give them power
  • How they fit into business and marketing planning
  • How to apply them in traditional, digital, and social media

– How understanding consumer psychology and emotion enhances the value of “big data.”

The audience for these seminars is …

Organizations: corporations, non-profits, government, marketing and communication associations

People: marketing professionals up to and including CMOs, product and category management, corporate communications and issue management, advertising executives, public relations executives, creative executives, membership executives, business development executives – anyone responsible for marketing and communication