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The Irrational Consumer: Busting the Myth of Rational Buying Behavior

Aug 24, 2020 | Consumer Product | Future Market Insights

In the past, the idea of changing behaviour in economics was not much entertained in the commercial sector.But now, the new era of economists and psychologists started favouring an in-depth research about the consumers, their behaviours and the inclination towards strategizing empathy rather than noticing the detailed qualities.

What is the science behind irrational consumers?

There are n-number of factors affecting a person’s choice and decisions while buying a product. There are few factors causing behavioural changes as in consideration with economics:

A. Emotions

The deep bond between decisions and emotions form in such a way that it remains strong and defies any logic crawling into your head.Consumption by itself can definitely also mean a way to an end when it comes to regulating emotions or affirming our image. We also buy things which might not be necessary but showing-off your high-standard comes into play.

Why did I buy this? Did I really need it?

These few questions arise a number of times but your rational-self might disagree but emotions start echoing and says “It’s okay, you deserve this”Getting influenced by discounts or statements like “Hurry up!! Only a few left” triggers the buying capacity within you. Consumers also fear to face words like “sold out’ and hence finish their transaction as soon as possible.

B. Context

Most decisions made by the consumers or buyers are because they are extensively influenced by situational factors. This can include anything ranging from environment, pat decisions or any other alternative factor.For instance, we can consider the application a basic and a premium plan. Adding a buying option with lesser advantage and more expense obviously shift the customer’s attention to premium plan.

To decrease the choice overload, we tend to incline toward products tagged as “Best-seller” or “top-pick” etc.

C. Time

The Marshmallow test is a good example for this.

The test clearly presented how children waited for an extra minute to receive more candies than to receive one single candy at the moment. Influencers and celebs carried out this test with their kids and posted videos on Instagram.Waiting for sale or waiting to avail discounts on each and every product is a very common trait within us.

 When setting the cost or price take into consideration how customers really take their decisions. Many customers already have a brand of chosen products to buy, and then are too satisfied to switch the brands.  

Customers often like the idea that they will not change products or suppliers for any minimal price differences.Hence, when you try them your products, you should lower the worth or get hung up on matching their level of low price.

It must be a priority in economic sector to spend your time focusing on development of products or provider loyalty.Ensure that the quality you provide or the service that you are reciprocating should not be disappointing. If all these points are taken into thought, customers will be much less worried about the price.

Complex buying behaviour

Consumers are intensively involved in the product when its expensive and bought infrequently. The factors of the product being risky and highly self-expressive kind of attracts the customer.In such cases, the consumer does not have proper knowledge about the product category and must learn about it first.

When we take an example of a person buying a computer, he/she may not know what attributes to look for. Main features which usually constitutes in making it successful like memory, disk storage, screen resolution etc carry no meaning to them due to lack of technological knowledge.

This buyer must go through a learning process characterized by developing beliefs about the product, its attitude, the attributes and then come to a proper personal choice as required. The marketer of such high-involvement products must make the consumers understand the information. They must notice the evaluation behaviour of such high-involvement consumers.

The marketer must expand the level of strategies to assist the buyer.

Dissonance-reducing buying behaviour

Many a times it so happens that consumer is highly absorbed in a purchase, but notices minute differences in the brands. This high involvement again pushes us to the fact that the purchase is infrequent, risky and expensive.

In such cases, the buyer will go around and shop while also learning about it. This will make them buy the products fairly quickly because differences in the brands are not yet pronounced. There underlie high chances for the buyer to respond quickly to a good price or shopping conveniences.

After finishing the purchase, consumer might experience dissonance that peeps out from noticing certain dissatisfying features about it or just inclining towards other brands providing extra features. The consumer will now be more alert to information that might change decisions.

He/she will now take an action or will just change behaviour and attitude towards buying.In this case, communications should focus to supply beliefs and evaluations and give surety about satisfaction so that consumers feel good about the brand choice.

Habitual buying behaviour

There are n-number of brands which go out of trend due to lack of attention and customer preference.When we take brands of salt as an example, people such for one specific brand and want only that. This happens due to the repeated using of the same brand since years and not due to brand loyalty.

There is good number of evidence that buyers have very low involvement with low-cost products. In these cases, the behaviour of consumers does not pass through normal attitude or behaviour or belief.Consumers do not go about extensively looking for information about the brands or their characteristics. There is not much involved in making a weighty decision on which brand to choose.

What is Rational Purchase?

Rational purchases demand a considerable amount of extensive research ad comparisons with different ranges of products. Companies like Amazon or other price-comparison portals specialize in offering a wide range of retail and consumer products and detailed information about the products available.

Generally, rational purchases involve research, information and bulk of extensive knowledge. Most of the times, these products require higher investment of expenses and a proper level of dedication. Savings in operating cost is one of the main factors in a rational purchase.

 Emotional and rational purchases are often related to the fact that even if we make an emotional choice, we are adamant that we made a rational decision. Here we are led by emotions more than being logical.

In comparison to Zalando and Amazon, the brand Sugarbearhair uses a proper emotional approach. Their website is easily accessible and does not offer a huge number of products, but a very limited one which makes it easier to choose.

The compact product information and fixed price of each product is listed. Because of the offering of only one single product of a kind, consumers do not have the option of evaluating alternatives.This fact also guarantees that consumers will find a way to the desired product in a short period of time and rapidly move towards check out without any issues upcoming in the path of purchase.

What is the approach to be taken?

The approach to be taken not only depends on what product you are choosing but also on the audience who are going to buy it. If we wish to evaluate which approach works best for us, the target group can work as a good decisive factor.

Many at times it is argued that women are more prone to emotional marketing criteria than any other gender. Other brands targeting both male and female customers are more into the development of emotional relationships.

For younger people or kids in fact, purchase is done on the basis of emotions and instinct rather than thinking logically or waiting for the correct time.

Buyers are not always logical or rational decision-makers. If they were, they would prioritize to choose products and make decisions which would maximize all of their decisions based on the long-term gain and monetary gains.

Harvard scholar, Gerald Zaltman, suggested in one of his seminal books “How Customers Think” that only 5% of consumer purchasing behaviour is logical and based on rational thought processes. This fact also suggests that 95% of the consumers are only purchasing due to sub-conscious motivation.

Often people spend a lot of money on one exceptional thing that makes their life better and they know it will last only for a short period of time. They don’t really know why but…they just will.