What makes customers buy? - 11 different buying triggers
Updated: Jun 5
There are 11reasons why people will buy your product:
Do you know why your customers buy from you?
Do you have a clear strategy behind what makes them buy your product?
Or were you just lucky enough to have people showing up at your door?
Honestly, there can be dozens of reasons why someone will buy your product or will not buy your product.
And these reasons can vary from person to person, often drastically.
In this article, we will look at some of the main buying factors that underlie human behavior and how understanding these can help you gain more sales.
Just think about some products you would never touch, but know others love and use every day.
It is amazing how different motivations can be for different people.
However, despite all these variations and differences, there are some generic motivations behind every purchase.
For most products in daily use, there are some triggers you can count on that will make a certain percentage of the population buy your product, or at least have serious interest in it.
The more specific your products are and the more complex the decision, the more the product has to really fit within the real needs of your customer.
Here we show you some tactics you can build into your product to make it more attractive to buy.
If you utilize them well enough, you will have no trouble attracting paying customers to your business.
Buying Trigger 1: It makes life easier
Does your product do the laundry for those who buy it?
Does it make payments safe and easy?
Does it help people to eat healthily?
Everything that your product will do, or at least promise to do, to improve the lives of its users can be a reason why people will buy it.
Usually, this implies that the benefits people get from it are obvious.
Many products in this category are self-explanatory or show in a few simple steps how life will be easier, or distinctly show the problem that gets solved with it.
Complex products will be harder to sell through this benefit than impulse-buying products for daily needs.
If your product helps people to great extent but needs first a lot of explaining to understand how life will be better after the purchase, then other tactics might be more suitable
More complicated or hidden benefits will usually require a salesperson to explain why this is beneficial to the customer and their situation.
It will depend on your sales process and the distribution channels you use if this is a preferable option for you since there is not always a salesperson present.
This tactic is well suited for products people can use in their homes, such as gadgets, widgets, and so forth.
Think of all the different problems that people have in their daily lives and what solution you could provide for them in the form of a product.
Most consumer articles such as a new dishwasher with special functions, the newest smartphone, or even a new car with lots of safety features will be bought mainly for this reason:
To take advantage of these new features in expectation to have an easier life after the purchase.
Buying Trigger 2: Status
Does your product glitter & shine?
Does it make people more attractive?
Do people feel special when they use it?
One of the most relevant buying criteria for many customers is the social status they get from a purchase.
People reach deep into their pockets just to have something faster, tastier, and better to show their friends.
Especially if you sell a branded product, status and perception of your products will play a major role in selling them.
Maybe your product is even something people can show off with.
Everything that caters to the ego of a person and lets them feel special will fall into this category.
There are branded shirts selling for 1.000$ or more, while their production costs are often just a few dollars.
Why do people still buy it then?
Because the brand gives them a feeling of status and belonging - even if it costs the customer a ton of money with no relation to its cost in production.
The of value such products is gained by the individual impression of status, not by the cost of production.
Luxury goods of all kinds solely rely on this need of feeling superior to others.
This triggers a very strong and often deeply rooted want in people to be better than others, to have seemingly “proof” of being better by wearing a certain brand or having a certain luxury product attached to yourself.
Seiko watches for instance have one of the best clockworks that exist, and you can get them for as little as 50$.
If they have the best clockwork (which is the only purpose of having a watch) and sell for such an attractive price, how come you can’t get even an average Rolex for around 10.000$?
The same goes for quality shirts you can buy for $15, yet some brands won’t even sell you a shirt for less than 700$.
Or look at cars.
You can get a quality car for your daily commute for around 25.000$ easily. But even the smallest Bentley will not sell for less than 300.000$
All of these products only use the perception of status and superiority as their selling point.
As you can see, it can be one of the most powerful buying triggers that are out there.
People will sometimes spend ridiculous amounts of money if your product makes them feel better than the rest.
The hard part is not selling expensive products once your brand is established - the hard part is creating a brand that will attract people to buy by making them feel special.
Buying Trigger 3: It feels good
Have you ever sat in a chair that was so comfortable, you didn’t ever want to get up again?
Or did you ever feel the acceleration of a sports car pressing you into the seats?
Have you ever stayed at a hotel which offers such pleasant service you never wanted to leave this place?
We all want to feel comfortable and enjoy a sense of well-being.
If your products make people enjoy themselves in whatever way, you can be sure that many will buy them for this reason only.
This also accounts for many products that create a unique experience in whichever way.
This includes theme parks, restaurants or even vacations.
All of them are places where people enjoy themselves and where we all go to feel better or gain a new experience that is not available elsewhere.
All kinds of self-improvement programs or books, but also health programs, or medical services fall also into this category.
For example, there are myriads of seminars being offered on all kinds of topics, with the only promise offered that people will be smarter and better educated after they leave.
Treatment centers for sick patients of all kinds actually do the same thing, they promise that by staying there you will feel better because of several medical procedures and therapies.
While all of the products might be from different industries and have totally different customer groups, in the end, people buy them for the same reason: to make them feel better.
If you want to sell your product better, make sure it makes people feel better.
Buying Trigger 4: Impulse Buying
Have you ever seen something in the store you just had to have?
Did something ever seem so funny or interesting that it just had to come with you?
Have you ever bought something at the moment that you regretted later on?
Welcome to the world of impulse buying!
Many consumer products are made to trigger a buying impulse in whatever way.
Common ways to achieve this include fancy packaging, loud and shiny advertising, or a big promise with the purchase.
But even the simple placement of a product can make the difference - think about the array of sweets next to you while waiting for the cash register in a supermarket.
Very often impulse buying is also triggered by the attractive design of the products.
Bright colors are used, often it shines or glimmers in some special way to make the product stand out on the shelf for our subconscious minds.
These products often literally almost jump at you, and are made or presented in a way that is hard to ignore.
All of this together triggers impulse purchases from your customers.
These products are often some kind of daily product you use such as toothpaste, food, or beverages.
Unhealthy snacks like chips or chocolate bars are probably the kings of this tactic, especially when located at the cash register at the supermarket, intended to trigger your impulse for a sweet treat.
The presentation of your product is thus also a key factor in triggering the buying impulse.
The more people have time to look around or are almost forced to look at your product, the easier it will be to make the sale.
Hence, make sure your product is displayed where people naturally will have their eyeballs on it, for whatever reason.
Even if they are just in line waiting to be next at the cash register.
Buying Trigger 5: It is “hot” or trendy
I am sure many of us have been guilty of trading cards during our school time.
Or later in High School to wear those shoes with wheels built in them.
And who hasn’t worn Crocs during their lifetime?
Why exactly did we have them?
Chances are high we saw some “cool” kids with them and very soon it was clear that you had to have them too to fit in.
Newer examples might include fidget spinners among youngsters or Pokemon Go.
Trends come and go.
What seems to be incredibly hot today and a must-have can be forgotten already merely a few months from now.
The reasons why such trends emerge are manifold.
Usually, there is some hidden and not-so-obvious need lurking beneath the surface that suddenly one product seems to tap into and fulfill for its users.
In other cases, celebrities or other famous people can trigger the want to be like them and move people to wear the same brands, go on the same vacations or just live a similar lifestyle.
Trends can also help you to diversify your product in commoditized markets, especially if you manage to tap into up-and-coming trends before your competition does it.
Buying Trigger 6: Convenience
In every market, there is one major market player who differentiates on one thing only:
Delivering really fast.
Why does this always work so well?
Because in every market there will be a number of customers who need the product or service ideally within the next hour.
Other aspects like prices or quality will be secondary for this customer group, as long the thing gets delivered as soon as possible.
Companies like FedEx have built an empire just around this single strategy.
For these special customers, the company in question offers the best convenience for their needs because that is what they focus on. And there is not much more people will ask for.
The same applies if you can be the cheapest in your market or at least deliver the best value for the price asked.
Examples like Walmart have dominated their industry by being unbeatable in their pricing strategy.
Newer examples like Amazon have built an even greater empire by not only offering great prices - but a very safe and comfortable shopping experience with incredibly fast delivery for their prime members.
Essentially Amazon combined fast delivery with extremely high customer service standards and a smooth shopping experience on their platform, making it one of the most powerful companies of our time.
Ultimately what convenience really means and what the most convenient way of doing anything is will be dependent upon the type of customers you serve.
But whoever your customer is, there sure is one way to cater to them better than the rest.
Buying Trigger 7: Search results
This category is new to the game.
In our modern world of smartphones and interconnectedness, everything we search for is just one click away.
This means if people have a question, they will google it to find an answer. If people want to know more about a product, they might look it up on Amazon and look at the reviews.
Or if they heard about a new trend, they might look it up on Youtube to see what it is about.
All these platforms today are actually giant search engines people use to satisfy their everyday curiosity.
And in some cases, it could also mean that people will make their very buying decision based on what they find in these searches.
Selling a product today also is largely determined by how congruent your message will be across multiple platforms.
It gets especially tricky when we consider that people often put a lot of trust in online reviews by strangers that are outside of our control
Studies have shown that these reviews are as valued as the recommendation of a lifelong friend or family member, even though it is just a stranger on the internet.
But before reviews even work in your favor or against you - you first have to show up in the search results at all.
Only those products that are found by people online will be considered in a buying decision.
If you don’t even show up, this means there won’t be anyone even considering your product no matter how good it is.
Every platform has its own algorithm and will use different ways to measure or value what you have to offer.
Disciplines like search engine optimization or SEO in short have become a standard in many sales and marketing strategies over the last years.
This goes way further than just Google but also includes all other large platforms or social media where your customers might spend their time online.
For many customers, the first product to choose will be one of those they find among the first 5-10 search results.
If they have to scroll to page 23 to find your product, you won’t make the sale. Even though you might offer it for a better price with newer technology or otherwise better solutions.
If people don't find your product, it won't matter much that your it is superior.
Buying Trigger 8: Feeling Secure
One of the most deeply developed needs of our customers is to feel secure.
Therefore all kinds of products that will give us more security for ourselves, our families, and our belongings or at least promise to do so have a strong inherent buying trigger.
The entire market of insurance is based solely on the single thought of “what if something goes wrong” and is worth trillions of dollars worldwide.
The product itself is actually just a thought about what could happen and what you could get in case it happens, written on paper. And customers pay monthly rates for it.
Even though most of these cases never become reality (thankfully), people are still eager to buy insurance products because having them allows you to feel more secure about your home, your family, your car etc.
This buying trigger can be purposefully activated by showing how long a product is already in use, how many others are already using it, how long the company already exists, etc.
Thereby we demonstrate to our customer that it has worked for many others already, making the purchase seemingly more secure.
The entire financial industry relies on this buying trigger since all kinds of retirement plans, savings, or investment accounts also promise to give you a better and more secure future for sacrificing something today.
All kinds of guarantees, money-back promises, or extended warranty services also use the same tactic by making the customer feel more secure about the purchase.
The same goes for products that are known to be of superior quality or made to last for a very long time.
The customer thereby knows he faces less risk since the products are well-known to do what they promise to.
Gyms and fitness centers advertise a better and healthier body tomorrow if you sign up with them and invest in your monthly dose of training to make you better withstand diseases in your old age.
Even martial arts classes or other sports can be sold by promising people to be more secure in case a stranger should ever attack them on a dark street corner.
Everything that makes the purchase decision, the product itself or a customer's life more secure in any way can use this powerful trigger in sales or marketing.
Buying Trigger 9: Curiosity
Some people want to have, see and experience it all.
The newest, latest, most fashionable, most expensive, highest, brightest, biggest, and many more superlatives are used to trigger buying behavior in a certain group of people.
Just seeing, feeling, or being present in a place that is out of the ordinary makes us ourselves feel special too.
To be the leader in any category is alone sufficient for many people to trigger a buying behavior.
It doesn't matter if it is the latest electronic gadget, a new restaurant in town, or the new coffee brand at the supermarket. For some people, being ahead of the crowd and being the first to see or experience a new, trendy thing is satisfying. This group of people purposefully takes the risk that comes with testing a new product but still, gives it a try because it might also give them a payoff.
This means being the first to own an iPhone, the first to fly to an unknown holiday destination, or the first one to drive the new car before it is officially available.
The same buying trigger is also used to pre-order video games or concert tickets.
Curiosity also works when you offer something people haven't had in a while that brings back old, pleasant memories.
It can also be the need for variety in people’s lives. We don't want to have the same things day in and day out. We crave new experiences, places, and things. “New” is thus one of the most powerful and commonly used words in sales and marketing because it alone can attract a wide range of potential customers.
Buying Trigger 10: Financial Gain
The most obvious buying trigger of all and actually a no-brainer is if a product helps to save money.
Most B2B products fall into this category.
Nobody is interested in automation systems until someone comes along and explains that by using this new automation machinery for a 3 million dollar one-time investment, you can save labor costs of more than 1 million dollars per year in your facility.
This means the product is paid off in 3 years and generates a profit every year after that.
In the same manner, hardly anyone is interested in investing 5 million in solar panels for a factory until someone does the math and finds out that actually these 5 million dollars would be saved in 4 years from electricity bills and generate profit every year after that.
These products are actually selling themselves once the customer understands the payoff, given that the product also keeps its promise.
We all like the feeling of being smart, making a profit, and reaping a bargain.
And this powerful need in all of us drives our behavior as customers to buy these products.
However, in many cases getting to the actual savings is either complicated or requires a certain timeframe.
The easier the promised gain can be realized, the quicker you can sell products with this method.
Such products usually get advertised as saving you money or providing a direct ROI for businesses.
In any way, this is a strong buying trigger and a need of many customers.
Buying Trigger 11: A combination of several factors
Each of these 10 buying triggers we just discussed can be a valid reason for buying for a certain target audience. But these buying triggers become even stronger if you combine several of them into your offer.
We already looked at Amazon and how they not only offer incredibly fast delivery but also offer the most comfortable and safe shopping experience possible and great prices on top!
It is thus no surprise that this company is so far ahead of its competitors.
Products or your overall sales strategies are not restricted to one single tactic only.
You can offer a product that feels good, is “hot” right now, delivers status, and offers convenience at the same time. This is what most luxury brands do for example.
The more buying triggers you can implement into your products, the easier it will be to sell them.
Actually, if you achieve to get a few of these triggers into your product and combine them you can create an even stronger trigger for the sales team and bring tons of new customers into the business.
If your product already has customers, chances are high that it will deliver to at least one of these 10 customer wants and needs.
Essentially, most of these buying triggers are deeply rooted in our subconscious mind and can't be just switched off like that. This is why catering to these needs will work over and over again.
Just observe your own buying patterns over the next weeks and check which deeper wants and needs your buying behavior satisfies.
The shocking thing to see is that these triggers even get us to buy when we know exactly what trick is used to sell the product to us!
Try it for yourself on your next sales or marketing strategy!