7 Psychological Factors in Marketing That Influence Consumer Behavior

Updated June 24, 2022

Most successful marketing professionals are aware that social and cultural factors influence consumer behavior and their engagement with a particular brand. Performing market research in such areas is a regular practice that allows marketing professionals to craft effective campaigns which target consumer needs. Besides these factors, though, it can be highly beneficial for marketing professionals to consider how consumer psychology can affect the purchases they make and the type of loyalty they develop for a brand. In this article, we outline why psychological factors are important to marketing and seven consumer psychological factors to consider when marketing products or services.

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Why are psychological factors important to marketing?

Consumers' psychological factors like their emotions, desires, and motivations are important to consider when creating marketing campaigns because such factors drive consumer behavior. This means that psychological factors may cause consumers to make or forgo purchases, connect with your brand or choose competitor products over your company's. For example, consider a situation where a consumer is motivated to engage sustainably with the environment due to their socialization as a member of a community affected by climate change. In such an instance, the consumer may only choose to buy your brand's products if they are marketed as eco-friendly and environmentally beneficial.

Considering this situation, it's evident that psychological factors can make a significant impact on the success of your business or organization. When you comprehend the driving factors behind a consumer's behavior, you can more easily design products and promotions curated to meet their specific needs, which then encourage them to engage with your brand. From here, with their needs met, consumers may become regular patrons whose loyalty extends beyond a price point—they may make frequent referrals, repeat purchases and promote your brand anecdotally to others.

Most businesses and organizations hold this type of consumer in high regard because they can add substantial value to a brand. Therefore, not only does understanding your target consumer audience's psychology enable you to craft more effective and meaningful promotional campaigns, but it can lead to an increase in overall profitability. With a deeper awareness of your consumer audience's needs, you may be able to better anticipate the decisions they make around purchases, which can greatly impact your organization's bottom line.

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Psychological factors that influence consumer behavior

There are various psychological factors that influence consumer behavior on a day-to-day basis. In some cases, these factors work in tandem to drive consumer purchasing and engagement decisions. Developing an understanding of how these psychological factors function may enable you to more easily meet your consumers' needs and effectively market the promise to do so. Here are seven psychological factors that influence consumer behavior to consider as you purposefully design your marketing materials:


Motivation, or an individual's innate drive to take the initiative to satisfy a particular need, is an important psychological factor to consider in marketing toward your consumers. Different consumers have varying levels of motivation geared toward satisfying a wide scope of needs. In general, an individual must set a specific goal as to how they will satisfy their need and take action to do so. For a consumer to commit to a purchasing decision, the purchase must meet a need that the consumer is motivated to satisfy.

Therefore, products should be marketed to solve consumer problems, which consumers are inherently motivated to act upon. In order to understand motivation, it can be helpful to consider the hierarchy of human needs created by psychologist A.H. Maslow. This hierarchy outlines five different levels of human needs that are ranked by priority—the lower levels of the hierarchy include basic survival needs, like hunger and shelter, and the higher levels of the hierarchy include more advanced psychological needs, such as love, belonging and self-fulfillment.

According to this model, the lower-level needs must be met before the higher-level needs can be addressed, but an individual person can experience several competing needs at once. This hierarchy can be useful when identifying consumer needs for a given marketing segment—by understanding specific needs and a consumer's motivation to meet those needs, you can create highly targeted segments which promise to satisfy any need present in the hierarchy.

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Learning, or the introduction of new information which changes an individual's behavior from previous experiences, is highly relevant to consumer marketing. The process of learning is continual and consists of two distinct phenomena—experiential and non-experiential learning. Experiential learning is the practice of learning through physically involved experiences. Comparatively, non-experiential learning is the practice of learning through observation and investigation. In most cases, marketing relies most heavily upon consumer's non-experiential learning: companies often present a wide scope of information about products and services through customer reviews, case studies, informational leaflets and more.

This information teaches consumers about products and services through the experiences of others. Many consumers purposefully seek these non-experiential learning opportunities and use the insight they gain to inform their purchasing decisions and level of engagement with brands. Therefore, if your brand makes such learning opportunities readily available to consumers as a part of your marketing campaigns, consumers may become more inclined to purchase your products once they're in the market to do so.


Reinforcement is a psychological factor that is a subset of learning—it is the process of an individual having their learning validated or confirmed through rewards or punishments. Reinforcement can be highly relevant to the field of marketing, as consumers often return to brands loyally when the information they learned about products is positively reinforced through their experiences with such products. Conversely, if a consumer learns information about a product that is negatively reinforced through their experiences, they may never return to a brand again.

For instance, if a consumer purchases a laptop, they may have learned through marketing campaigns that the laptop is designed to be long lasting, efficient and capable of storing large amounts of digital files. If this information is confirmed through the consumer's experience using the laptop, they may return to the laptop's brand to purchase a second device when the time comes to do so. Therefore, brands must be purposeful about the information they choose to include in their marketing materials—when consumers learn information about a product, they generally seek reinforcement through their experiences.

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Socialization, or the process by which individuals develop knowledge and beliefs, is a psychological factor that combines learning and social engagement. Individuals are often socialized to learn specific normalized behaviors that may be modified throughout their lifetime. In most cases, individuals learn these behaviors directly from socialization agents, or other people who consciously or unconsciously teach the learner about behavioral patterns and cognitive reasoning processes. Individuals interact with a variety of socialization agents throughout their lives, including friends, parents, siblings, teachers, politicians, celebrities and others. In some cases, organizations and sources of information can serve as socialization agents, too.

Socialization influences consumer behavior because it establishes and normalizes a certain type of engagement. Marketing professionals can design their campaigns and materials with the purpose of socializing consumers to make certain decisions, such purchasing decisions. Even further, though, marketing campaigns can be directly aligned to consumer socialization patterns, which can encourage an organic interaction between the consumer and a brand.


Modeling, or an individual's imitation of a social agent's behavior, is a psychological factor that is built off of the foundation of socialization. Through the process of socialization, individuals come to conclusions about specific social norms, expectations and opinions about behavior. In most cases, socialized individuals seek to align their own behavior to meet these norms and expectations through emulating the standard set by others—this is the process of modeling. This can be highly relevant to the field of marketing, as brands can achieve increases in profitability by employing the right social models when promoting their products.

For instance, consider a situation where a high-profile basketball player becomes the spokesperson for a brand of sneakers. In such an instance, dedicated fans of the player and others who recognize the player's success may model the player's behavior by buying that brand of sneakers. In addition to this, if an individual's friends, teammates, family members, coaches or other acquaintances start to wear the sneakers and normalize such behavior, the individual may choose to buy and wear the sneakers themselves. Marketing professionals should attempt to develop an understanding of their consumer audience's relationship to other people to make use of modeling.

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As a psychological factor, perception can significantly influence a consumer's behavior. Perception, or what an individual thinks or understands about a product, may impact whether they purchase the product or dictate how they engage with a brand at all. For marketing professionals, perception can sometimes be challenging to grasp, as each individual person may perceive a situation differently depending on their past experiences, how they interpret information and what type of information they pay attention to.

Perception is the psychological factor that leads two consumers with identical needs to purchase different products to meet those needs. While this means that marketing campaigns may not be fully equipped to navigate the highly diverse factor of consumer perception, it can be helpful to understand the three processes which lead to differences in perception:

  • Selective attention: Selective attention is the process by which individuals only pay attention to information that is immediately useful to them or people they know.

  • Selective distortion: Selective distortion is the process by which individuals perceive information in a biased way that reinforces their existing thoughts, beliefs and experiences.

  • Selective retention: Selective retention is the process by which individuals more frequently remember information that would be useful to them and forget extraneous, non-pertinent information.

Attitudes and beliefs

Attitudes and beliefs are integral psychological factors that can affect how consumers behave. Attitudes, or an individual's consistent views of something, are composed of beliefs, pre-conceived views that individuals have established about something, interact with, and emotional feelings. Individuals possess evaluative attitudes and beliefs regarding a variety of things—people, places, politics, religions, brands and more. If an individual holds a negative attitude or belief about a specific brand or product, it can discourage consumers from interacting with said brand or buying any products associated with it.

Therefore, marketing professionals must understand how attitudes and beliefs can affect consumer decision-making processes. In some cases, marketing campaigns may need to be geared toward positively changing consumer attitudes or beliefs. Comparatively, in other cases where consumer attitudes and beliefs present a significant roadblock to brand profitability, a brand may consider pivoting their strategy and instead change a product to coincide with consumer attitudes. Because attitudes and beliefs can be challenging to shift, the latter strategy is most often employed by brands that experience such discrepancies.

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