THE LAST PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
In Part 1 we went over The Buying Process and The Snowball Effect.
In Part 2 we went over the Types of Consumers and about the importance of Emotions.
Now it’s the time to combine everything together and get to the root of our buying behaviors.
We know WHAT type of consumer category we fit in.
We know HOW we make buying decisions.
The last question is WHY.
Why do we actually buy something?
What makes us buy?
Do we buy what we need?
Think about it.
Do we actually do anything about our need just because it exists?
Let’s look at these examples:
- You need to buy vegetables because they are healthy for your body.
- You need to drink more water.
- You need to study more.
- You need to floss your teeth every day.
- You need to sleep 8 hours a night.
- You need to make a plan for your next project.
- You need to change the vacuum cleaner.
And the list could go on an on.
As we can see, the need exists, but does that mean we will automatically do something about it?
No. And you know why?
Because unless we WANT it, there’s nothing that will push us to take action.
We are motivated by our WANTS, not by our NEEDS.
Let’s look at it this way.
Do you need a Ferrari?
Do you need a Rolex?
How about a Gucci bag?
Well, if you’re a woman you could say the Gucci bag is capable of handling the weight of one smartphone, 2 pairs of glasses, 2 external batteries, some gums, a pack of tissues, a few hair bands, maybe a book, lotion, a planner, granola bars, makeup, perfume, an aspirin, band-aids, a cardholder, a bottle of water, headphones, lip balm, keys and some business cards, just in case.
But why not buy 2 cheaper bags and just split the weight on both arms?
Let’s be honest here.
If you and I pay for a luxury brand, we don’t buy because we need it.
We do it because we WANT it.
Couldn’t we buy a cheaper version that would do the same job?
Did you ever have so much money in your wallet that you had to buy a luxury item just to get rid of all those bills and free up some space?
Our buying behavior is shaped by our wants.
WHAT WE WANT
We are human beings, we are not machines.
It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of making an emotional decision.
What we actually buy is EMOTIONS.
We buy emotions and justify it with facts.
This is how we usually justify our decision.
- I purchased this because it is the cheapest.
- I purchased this because it is the best.
- I purchased this because it has good reviews.
- I purchased this because no one else has it.
- I purchased this because I deserve it.
Don’t we always have a “good” reason for buying?
We will use logic to justify ANY type of buying decision.
Does this mean we shouldn’t have wants?
No. Wants are extremely important.
Wants motivate use.
Wants make us take action.
Wants are what drive us toward our desired goals.
Don’t you want to feel accomplished?
Don’t you want the best for yourself?
Don’t you want the best for your friends?
We all want to get the most out of our life.
However, that doesn’t happen if we just listen to our wants.
You know why wants are dangerous?
Because they are tied to our emotions.
Emotions are not rational.
We have 2 decision-makers in our body.
We have our heart and our mind.
Our wants should be the driving factor behind our actions to grow, to get better, to improve the quality of our life and to progress continuously.
If our wants are the result of rational thinking, then tying them to our emotions would help us achieve them.
The issue here is that nowadays our wants are rarely the result of our own rational thinking.
Imagine that you are a small point on a very big map, together with other 6 billion points. Now let’s imagine that this is the world we live in right now, with its gigantic mountains, enormous rivers, big green fields, tall buildings, lions, whales, and elephants, among many other elements.
Now, let me ask you a question.
Do you think you might be influenced by all of these factors that are around us?
Maybe a little.
You might have heard about the study where investors had a different behavior and took different types of decisions, just based on the weather changing.
If the weather, which might not even affect us directly if we’re in our cozy chair at a desk, can influence such important decisions, do you think there might be a few other factors as well?
- How about when someone gives you a compliment?
- How about when someone tells you you’re wrong?
- How about when your friend tells you how magnificent the new shiny toy they just bought is?
- How about when you hear about the new super gadget on the market, but you don’t really have the budget for it right now?
Remember when we went over the Types of Consumers in Part 2? We noticed that most of the consumers (the Early Majority and the Late Majority) are all influenced by the consumers that try the new things first?
So if you and I buy things before other people, meaning that we are innovators or visionaries, does that mean we are more rational buyers?
Well, as we remember, the people who are the first to try something new on the market have either a higher income or a higher risk tolerance.
That basically means that neither an innovator or a visionary is necessarily more rational because taking risks is more of a gamble.
So who influences these type of buyers?
The mountains, the tall buildings, the whales or the elephants we previously mentioned?
Well, there’s a hint there.
It’s the people in the tall buildings.
It’s the big companies and their marketing.
Marketing is the main influence of consumer buying behavior.
Society is shaped by the billions invested in marketing.
Now, by knowing this, let’s take a better look at this creature, called marketing.
THE POWER OF MARKETING
We have 5 senses:
Our buying behavior is influenced by all of them.
Companies use all types of marketing tactics to influence our buying behavior.
- Car salesman wanting you to test drive their car to “feel it”? Check.
- Free food samples at the supermarket so you can taste it? Check.
- TV ads so you can see how that particular thing would make you feel if you would own it? Check.
And the examples could go on for every item or service you might think of.
If you will love something after touching it, are you more inclined to buy it?
If you are impressed by something you see, are you more inclined to buy it?
Think for a second.
The same applies to taste, sound, and smell.
Our brain will automatically make a positive connection toward that item.
You will start to imagine how good it will make you feel, once you have it.
If we take a car example, it’s easy to see the difference.
Let’s compare the brands Toyota and Mercedes.
They both manufacture cars, but they have significantly different prices. Toyota has cheaper, more affordable cars, and Mercedes has more expensive and luxurious cars.
We all know what a car does. It helps you get from point A to point B.
If you ask an owner of a Mercedes why did he buy it, will he tell you that he gets from point A to point B faster and that’s why he paid x3 more than for a Toyota?
Unless he drives illegally, I don’t think he might give a positive answer.
Then why would he buy a Mercedes if he has to pay so much more for it?
What if I told you both buyers had the same salary and the same savings? How come they take such different buying decisions?
The answer is pretty simple.
They have different feelings associated with buying.
The person buying the Toyota will feel as if he made the better decision. Why would he buy a Marcedes when he could just as well buy 2 Toyota’s and still have money left to spend? This is the obvious smart decision for him.
The person buying the Mercedes will feel as if he made the better decision for himself. Why would he buy an average car like everyone else when he knows how the high-quality materials of the car will make him feel? Isn’t he the best? Doesn’t he deserve the best?
Can you notice the difference in their thinking?
Each of them has a different emotion linked to buying that particular car.
The truth is that all these influences come from our values, beliefs and the society we live in.
As previously mentioned, society is shaped by marketing.
Big companies, such as Coca-Cola, invest over $3 billion yearly for a specific reason.
Even if we look at the color of their logo, Coca-Cola uses red, which signifies power.
Do you think Coke would be so popular if it had the same color as water? Would it feel as distinct and special anymore? If we think about it, black is many times used as a color of sophistication, luxury, confidence, and strength.
This is how much of an impact the colors have on their own.
If you add as many positive emotions to anything, you will want it and make yourself believe you actually need it, even if it’s not the case.
Could we all live without drinking even one Coke for the rest of our lives?
That’s not even up for debate, of course, we can. We’ve lived millions of years without it.
But if everyone would do it, then do you think you’ll see the product on the shelves anymore?
Hard to imagine Coca-Cola disappearing any time soon, isn’t it?
With the financial power they currently have, they will always try to tap into our natural human emotions by hiring the best behavioral psychologists, the best marketers and the best influencers they possibly can.
One famous quote by author William Feather points out our human buying behavior in an elegant way.
A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it
As much as we want to believe we are always in control of our decisions, in over 90% of everyday situations, we have to rely on our instincts. We have to make decisions on the spot and we have to rely on past experiences and external factors.
However, unlike decisions that have to be made on the spot, before we buy, we have the luxury of planning. We are able to analyze in advance.
The problem is that companies try to “help” us make those decisions by giving us the reasons why we should buy it, but not telling us why we shouldn’t buy it.
We have to do that on our own.
But how good are we at deciding what we actually need?
WHAT WE NEED
Truth is, we are not that good at deciding what we need.
Although we always have reasons for what we buy, we rarely make the difference between what we need and what we want.
Let me ask you one question.
Do you need sugar or do you want it?
Well, considering the fact that 300 years ago the average sugar consumption for one person was less than 5kg/year and now it’s over 80kg/year, I don’t think we actually need that much more sugar for survival, do we?
So how can we make better buying decisions when it’s clear that our current way of making them is not even close to being optimal?
Actually, the answer is simple.
It’s so simple you might not even believe me.
We just have to ask better questions.
If you go back to the Toyota and Mercedes example, did you notice how each person had different questions?
The person buying the Toyota had the feeling of being a smart buyer. Why would he pay x3 the price for a Mercedes? Aren’t both cars doing the same thing? How could he use the rest of the money to buy other things that could improve his life?
The person buying the Mercedes had the feeling of being a high-profile buyer. Why would he buy an average car? How is he going to show that he is a successful person if not by what he decides to buy? What kind of person wouldn’t like to feel the comfort of those high-quality materials each and every day?
Can you see the difference in the questions they are asking themselves?
For example, what do you ask yourself when you want to buy a luxury item?
Do I need this?
Unless someone puts a gun to your head and forces you to buy it, I don’t think there is any material item that we couldn’t live without, is it?
So, let’s look at a better question we could ask ourselves.
How much long-term satisfaction will this purchase bring me and what kind of impact am I expecting it to have on my quality of life, compared to other options?
Do you think this 2nd question might give us a better, more specific answer, in order to take a better decision in the end?
In most cases, it would. Simply because we challenge our reasoning. When we ask a thoughtful question, we improve the likelihood of finding the answers that go beyond simple black and white, yes or no answers.
The questions we ask serve as our trustworthy guide.
The main goal is to differentiate between PRICE and VALUE.
As multi-billionaire Warren Buffett once said:
Price is what you pay.
Value is what you get.
This is the last piece of the puzzle.
Value is what we are looking for when making buying decisions.
VALUE OVER PRICE
How to asses value over price?
Again, we go back to the basics.
There are a few questions that you can ask yourself that make this process easier than we might imagine it to be.
So, how much would you pay to keep your best friend?
Just joking. As you can see, some things are so valuable, that you cannot put a price on them. When you can estimate how important one thing is to you, price will become just a number that you will gladly pay in order to own something.
Here is a list of relevant questions I’ve compiled.
It will help to differentiate between needs and wants.
1. Can I live without it?
2. How long will it last me?
3. If the price would be double, would I still buy it?
4. How often will I use it?
5. Will it make a noticeable difference in my life?
6. Can I get something similar for significantly less money?
7. Will this only bring me instant gratification that wears off rapidly or will it bring me long-term satisfaction?
8. What area of my life will be improved?
9. Will it save me time?
10. How much attention or time will this take away from me?
11. Am I the only one impacted by this purchase? If yes, who else?
12. When I will look back on the purchase, what kind of regrets might I have?
13. What do I consider the 3 main benefits? What are the 3 main risks?
I made it as a checklist because it’s more interactive. You can download it and just check those boxes as you go through the boxes. You can also change the questions to your liking.
Does it seem simple enough?
If you take a second to think about it, these questions are more or less what we answer subconsciously in our mind automatically, in just a few seconds.
However, the problem is that our brain developed to make quick and automatic decisions most of the time. This is what helped us survive over human history.
Imagine a lion chasing you in the jungle. Would you have enough time to relax for a second and rationally ask yourself what the best decision is?
Not unless you have a computer instead of a human brain.
At that point, we go into a fight or flight response. It’s binary, yes or no.
You are not able to ask yourself 13 questions and answer them rationally.
In the world we live in right now, being prepared can make the difference between being at 20% or at 80% of achieving our goal.
- It is the difference between getting the scholarship because you have 10 straight A’s or having no scholarship because you only have 9 straight A’s.
- It is the difference between having a relationship with the person you are the most attracted to or just the person you are able to attract.
- It is the difference between having an annual salary of $50k or having a $100k salary because you negotiated a bonus structure.
Back to buying decisions in particular.
Imagine yourself in 2 scenarios:
A) You take 100 unprepared buying decisions in a year.
B) You take the same 100 buying decisions, but this time, better prepared.
In scenario A you made some quick buying decisions, you think all went well.
In scenario B you also made some buying decisions, but there are a few significant differences we can observe if we take a closer look at them:
- You noticed that there was a coffee shop near you, that had coffee for $1 less than what you usually bought daily. You saved $200/year.
- You decided to count calories. You’ve seen that you were eating 2500 calories although your body required 9just 2000. You cut your weekly expense for food by $10. You saved $520/year and you lost additional weight.
- You found out that you can substitute rice with cauliflower rice. As a result, you started eating 1000 fewer calories per week. You saved yourself 52,000 calories/year and you are healthier as a result.
- You decided to make your travel plans in advance. You bought tickets and accommodation a few months ahead of time for 2 vacations. You saved $500/year.
- You found a gym membership expensive and not worth it, but you found some dumbells online for $100. In situation A you ignored them because they seemed pricey. In situation B you thought it over and you realized that you will be able to do 30 minutes of weight lifting at home 3x/week easily and burn 100 calories each time. As a result, you are doing 78 hours of exercise per year and burning off 15,600 more calories/year.
In whose shoes would you like to find yourself?
The unprepared person in scenario A, or the prepared person in scenario B?
Looking at ONLY 5 different buying decisions, we can see a significant difference in the quality of life the same person can have at the end of the year.
Scenario B yields more money, more health and considering you might start buying better birthday gifts, even better relationships.
APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
Reading is helpful.
Knowing is useful.
Believing is important.
Understanding is valuable.
But if you don’t apply what you learn, it’s useless.
You know what is the difference between someone who is not reading, listening or watching this piece of content and someone who does, but forgets it the next day and doesn’t apply ANYTHING from it in the near future?
There’s mainly one.
The person consuming this content could possibly re-read or even bookmark it and sometime in the future, find that one tiny piece of information that can be applied and bring significant life improvements.
But I know most of you will be able to find the practical information easily and apply it as soon as you need to make a buying decision. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading this.
I actually believe that you already thought of something that you need to buy in the following days and want to test this new method on. You can challenge yourself and see how you can come up with better answers and eventually, make better buying decisions, that can improve your life.
The idea is that we all feel smart after reading something of value.
I know the feeling as well.
We agree with everything that we read.
We know that it makes sense and that it should be implemented.
Even if we look at the quotes, we think they are common sense and relevant, especially coming from people who have done great things in this world.
However, if you and I read something, and we don’t truly believe that the information can be life-changing, then we won’t take it seriously enough in order to take action.
Imagine 2 people driving on a highway.
Let’s say the 1st one is YOU and the 2nd one is ME.
We both see at one point a pile of some yellow bars on the side of the read.
We both stop and check out what it is.
I’m not really impressed by what I see, they seem to be just yellow pieces of metal.
You, however, have just become a multi-millionaire, because that yellow pile was made out of gold bars.
Can you see what was the difference here?
We both found gold, but not both of us knew how valuable it was.
For me, it was just a pile of some yellow metal I didn’t know anything about. Who picks a pile of metal of the road?
For you, on the other hand, it was pure value. When that particular event happened in your life, unlike me, you had the knowledge of what it was, you knew what kind of impact those gold bars can have on your life.
Although not as lucrative, when you read, listen or watch content, this is the exact same value you can get out of it if you can find at least 1 golden nugget that you can implement in your life to improve it.
Change happens in a moment.
You just have to decide.
Think of a smoker. What do they have to do in order to quit smoking?
Just avoid putting the cigarette in their mouth. It’s not that hard, is it?
But first, you have to decide. Will you put it, or not?
It’s a simple yes or no answer, but for that decision to be made, you have to ask yourself a few more questions. How much is that cigarette going to affect your life? Is taking the risk worth for your lungs? Would you feel sorry if you didn’t get to live long enough to enjoy life with your friends and family because of it?
See how some questions could make you decide what you really need, instead of what you want?
Just like you, I also have to ask myself questions all the time when making a decision.
It does get easier with time, but it’s never a good idea to get overconfident. When you don’t take it seriously anymore, remember the A and B scenarios from here.
Sure, you can survive with scenario A, that’s not the problem, but when scenario B is just a few questions away, is it worth depriving yourself of that better version of your life for just a few minutes of attention?
I know it’s harder when you try to do something alone.
That’s why, if there’s anything that you have to say, the comment section down below is available for you and anyone else who wants to share thoughts.
Tell me, what little change could you make after reading this?
What are you going to try out in the next couple of days?
Do you have anything to add?
Anything to share?
You are free to do it.
If all you do after reading this post is take this checklist and use it at least once, you will have a NEW tool in your toolkit, which is a fancy way of saying that you will have one more method of making a better decision.
If you have anything to share, the comment section is all yours.
Don’t forget we are together on a journey of self-improvement and the more we communicate, the more we challenge ourselves and grow.
I look forward to reading what your thoughts are.
And what better way to end this post than with one of the most important things that Tony Robbins can teach us.
If there’s anything on your mind, don’t be shy, you have the comment box down below ⇩⇩⇩ Promise I won’t bite ⇩⇩⇩
Life enthusiast with a great desire to constantly perfect myself, get in better physical and mental shape, while also helping other people by sharing everything I’ve been able to learn.