Creating and maintaining a well thought out and properly developed brand is by far one of the most important assets your business can have. Your brand, and its identity, brings the intangible elements of your business to life, giving it a personality and depth with which consumers can relate to and identify. It is this deep connection that piqued the interest of psychologists specializing in Consumer Psychology; a field that studies cognitive functions and processes and how such functions and processes impact consumer behavior. According to consumer psychology, traditional marketing techniques are no longer proving as effective as they once were. Deeply rooted in simply asking consumers what they’re thinking about companies, products and services they use, traditional marketing has been exposed. Historically, consumers are prone to say one thing yet do another- with that deviation even occurring on a subconscious level. What does this mean? It means that consumers aren’t making purchases to fulfill a specific need (that they’re aware of). Many of purchases are simply based on emotional and external cues that influences their belief they have an actual need to be met. For marketers, the key to tapping in to a consumer’s subconscious lies within remarkable branding.
The brain is a magnificent thing, and something those of us who aren’t experts on the matter (see what I did there?) may never fully understand. However, through consumer psychology and its findings, marketers now have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. To consider the powerful forces that motivate the subconscious mind, and utilize them in order to develop a strong brand, is truly the future of marketing.
In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper titled “A Theory of Human Motivation.” In it, Maslow created the “Hierarchy of Needs,” commonly known today as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Through his research, we know that there are 5 different types of needs driving human motivation: self-actualization, esteem, love or belonging, safety, and physiological. Now that marketing as evolved, we are able to effectively market to people based on their need of “self-actualization.” People now rely on products to express their own identity through symbolic means — such as the clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the food they eat, or the furnishings in their home.
To bridge the gap between consumer and product, knowing and understanding your audience must come first and foremost. It has been found that people exhibit positive feelings toward brands that align with their values. Take the Toyota Prius, for example: it’s a top-selling hybrid vehicle, outselling all other hybrid cars combined. Consumers will willingly spend more on a Prius, simply because it’s a Prius! How did Toyota accomplish this? The answer is simple. Consumer Psychology. The Prius was first introduced to the United States in 2000, with their first campaign focused on all the car’s new, innovative technology. The first release didn’t do too well and Toyota invested in research to find out why. Through various target market clinics and focus groups, Toyota focused on getting down to the core of their target market. What features are they looking for? What are they interested in? What are their values? This is when Toyota discovered that consumers wanted a roomier Prius, where a stroller could fit in the trunk and the back seats could fold down. Toyota learned that innovative technology wasn’t a huge selling point; their consumers were actually looking for something that was proven to be reliable. This is where they also learned that their target market wanted a hybrid vehicle because it sends a message to the world: I care about the environment.
Toyota came to understand that their target audience valued both sustainability and environmental health. Armed with this knowledge, they carefully planned, implemented, and executed their branding and marketing efforts around these values. Such careful consideration is what made it possible for the Prius to create an emotional connection with consumers, and become the top-selling hybrid in the industry. The Prius was designed to be different. Those who purchase a Prius now say they’ve purchased the hybrid because, “it says something about my priorities and my lifestyle.” Owners feel that their Prius is symbolic of environmentalism and that driving one express’s they care about the environment, too. The success of Toyota’s product revolved around strong branding.
Now, while Toyota positioned the Prius around their consumer’s sustainability and environmental health mindset, they have also successfully and consistently maintained their positioning in order to reestablish that buyers are part of something truly important. A commercial featuring today’s Prius is filled with messages of sustaining our earth, blanketed with images of trees and “all things green”. Toyota presents consistency in their brand messaging by highlighting the danger Mother Nature is in from years of pollution abuse, and their position that Prius jumpstarted the Green Movement. Now, individuals and businesses alike are joining the Prius movement around the world.
By understanding Consumer Psychology, we understand the subconscious mind and what makes consumers ‘tick’. Centering your company’s branding on what the consumer’s subconscious mind truly desires, undeniably delivers results and positions your company for future success.
This is the future of marketing. Are you ready?