Consumer Psychology Is the Only Constant in a Changing Retail Market



Shopping behaviors are always a means to an emotional end, so retailers need to concentrate on these core human motivators that shape shoppers’ behaviors.  In a recent article Forbes presents five essential truths of consumer psychology: control, emotion, personal identity, social belonging, and context. Consumer behavior is described by psychologists as a function of both motivation and ability. 

So how do we use that information to improve our Consumer Experience? 

Let’s take a closer look to the Forbes’s five truths of consumer’s psychology:

Number 1:  Giving consumers control 

Consumers want to achieve their goals and they want to do that by making the right and the optimal choices. They need to feel that they can overcome different challenges related to the context of the shopping environment and that they are in control and that they can shop efficiently. 

Number 2:  Activating positive emotions

We should take into consideration both positive and negative emotions: when it comes to consumer experience. Why?  More positive emotional response in a shopping environment leads to increased time spent in store, increased spending, increased basket size, and increased desire to return. A negative experience, like frustration or anxiety = to shorter time spent in the store, less spending, and less desire to return. 

Number 3 & 4: Reinforcing personal and social identity and belonging 

The article takes the example of Amazon Prime whose concept was based on this theory, and it aims making consumers feel like they belong to a group, reinforcing their social identity and belonging. For a consumer, the feeling of belonging to a community is going to give him a new sense of identity which is going to make his experience even more pleasant. 

Number 5: Context shapes consumers’ perception 

The context in which a costumer operates is also going to affect his/her behavior. Some find themselves in a stressful context and that induces them to buy more but, for others this isn’t the case. If we take as an example the Covid pandemic lockdown it really boosts online sales so in this case the context played a huge role in the consumers’ perception and actions since for them it was safer online shopping than buying in physical stores.    

But what is missing?  

Now that we have become aware of these five big categories, the question we ask ourselves is: how are we going to use them and when? Where do we begin?

These five essential consumers psychology truths can be true for everyone, but they still don’t reveal the individual needs of your visitors/consumers. So how do we proceed?  

At Dotaki we have worked on this subject for a long time, and we have come up with an emotional analytics tool that helps you to understand on which one of the 5 categories to focus, and connect them to specific emotional (individual) need.  

Our emotional analytics classifies the emotional needs into two groups: 


Hedonist needs


Pragmatic needs

Hedonist Needs: 

Comfort: Sometimes visitors need to evolve in a pleasant, undisturbed environment. 

Community: Some visitors need to feel that they have strong and regular contact with the people they care about. 

Competition: The need to make the most optimal choice, to get or be the best is essential for some type of visitors. 

Attention: Some visitors need to feel that everything is done to satisfy them & that you pay attention to them. 

Safety: Some visitors need to feel safe and in control of their life, rather than uncertain and threatened by their environment. 

Pragmatic Needs: 

Change: The need to explore new territories & to leave behind the routines motivates your visitors.  

Quality: Many visitors cannot make decisions without having access to qualitative information. 

Immediacy: Other visitors need to be constantly stimulated by different suggestions for actions to be taken. 

Popularity: Visitors also need to minimize the risks that come with choices by opting for options already validated by many people 

Understanding: The need for factual and comprehensive information is essential for some visitors in order to make decisions.  

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