The Driving Forces of Purchase Decisions

To fully understand purchase behaviour we need to understand what motivates people to buy products and brands in the first place. Why do we buy what we buy? To answer this question we will introduce the concept of goals. Goals are a hot topic in psychology and neuroscience. Goal-based valuation is the most sophisticated level of value in the human brain, and it is a key concept in our journey to answer the question of why we buy what we buy. This chapter shows how powerful and valuable the concept of goals is for marketing.

Goal value – the driver of motivated behaviour

We have seen the many powerful ways to optimize interfaces along the path to purchase. Using insights from behavioural economics there are fascinating possibilities to add value and reduce cost. We can use heuristics to optimize our tariff structures, flyers and promotions when selling, for example, cars. But why does someone want to buy a car in the first place? And from which brands will they seek information? There clearly is an additional level that drives the value–cost equation, above and beyond heuristics, and this level is motivation. Motivation is the main driving force behind all human behaviour and, hence, purchase behaviour, so let’s have a closer look at what motivation is about from a neuropsychological perspective.

A fascinating paper called ‘A neural predictor of cultural popularity’ (2012) by Gregory Berns and Sara Moore from Emory University sheds some ...

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