Shopper Insights
31/03/22

Attitudes, Motivations and Shopper Insights

Attitudes and Motivations define a customer’s shopping behaviour. How a person feels about a brand, a product or a service is vital for marketers to make the right message, positioning and retail execution to nudge a customer closer to purchase. It is a common refrain among marketing researchers that “what the customers say they do and what they actually do are completely different things”. Essentially, the cause of this difference is the dissonance between attitudes, motivations, and behaviours. You can’t draw conclusions from one (e.g., behaviour) without understanding the other (e.g., attitude).

True understanding of a customer’s shopping habits requires an understanding of attitudes, motivations, and behaviours. Only then is it possible to connect what shoppers say and what they do.

Attitudes define a customer’s feelings about a brand or product as well as the beliefs that a customer has about that brand or product. This directly affects the actions they take. These attitudes are a function of a customer’s past experiences as well as their own personalities. These attitudes are quite hard to change, however not impossible. For marketers, knowing these attitudes opens possibilities on how to approach different customers who are wired differently.

Motivations are more functional and has a benefit element to it. The motivations for an environmentalist to buy local organic food is very different than an average Joe who is more concerned about the weekly grocery budget. As such motivations for the same product categories could be different based on the attitudes of customers who buy those categories.

To put the pieces together, the following are a few different ways in which attitudes and motivations intertwine with shopper behaviour:

Knowledge driven customer:

These customers undertake extensive research of products that they wish to buy. E.g., a health-conscious customer would not be easily swayed by marketing promises of health benefits, without investigating the ingredients and product description first hand, compared to other products in the market. Based on this research, they would generally form an opinion or belief (positive or negative) towards Brands / products. These opinions will lead to developing certain feelings about the choices they shortlist. These opinions and feelings will result in a purchase.

Customers who make purchase choices based on informed decisions
Busy customers have little time to grasp detailed product info

Low involvement customer:

These customers do not have the motivation or the ability to conduct research on products / brands they buy. E.g., a mother of three juggling work, children’s hobbies and household chores would rarely have the time or the attention span to research products / brands they buy. Based on exposure to brand messaging and creative marketing, these customers will form opinions of the products / brands, which by itself could lead to a purchase. Feelings are developed post purchase with experience of the products.

Experience based customer:

These customers make purchase decisions purely based on their prior feelings about a brand / product. E.g., an iPhone owner could be easily convinced to sign up to an Apple service purely based on their feeling towards the Brand, regardless of how little is known about the service. Such customers form opinions / beliefs about the product / service only after they purchase. Such opinions / beliefs could further reinforce their feelings towards the Brand or undermine them.

Prior feelings define shopper experience for brand fans

What does all this mean for Shopper Insights?

True purpose of shopper insights is to find ways to understand the paths of influence along a customer’s shopper journey. This does not mean manipulating a shopper’s behaviour but ensuring that whatever channel is adopted by the shopper to learn, buy and experience a product or service, they are best served in solving their need.

“Happiness does not come specifically from the objects people buy. It is an emotion associated with their motivations for making those purchases.”

Psychology Today

Thus, true shopper insights require understanding the voice behind the Customer’s mind that directly influences their shopper behaviour. As a marketer, it is important to understand “why” customers choose your brand over others or vice versa. It is important to identify “what” qualities define such customers. A full picture of shopper insights should cover not only what customers do in stores (behaviours) but also how they feel and believe about brands / products they buy (attitudes and motivations).

As mentioned in an earlier blog, “Happiness does not come specifically from the objects people buy. It is an emotion associated with their motivations for making those purchases.” (Psychology Today). No shopper insights project is complete, without understanding the emotions behind the shopper.

Written by

Richard Jerome