With a million marketing messages assailing our senses every day, there’s simply too much for our poor brain to think about.

So, according to behavioural science, rather than make conscious choices based on logic or reason, we allow unconscious cognitive processes to make our buying choices.

Here are a few simplified examples. 

Stick with what you know.
Why do we tend to buy the same products, year after year, even though better options are available?

It’s an evolutionary thing. We have a survival bias that tells us we’re better off sticking with what we know. For that reason we distrust change and would rather play safe.

Buying with the heart, not the head.
Hey, we’re not stupid. We know brands are out to reel us in – with humour, emotional imagery, catchy phrases and what have you.

They play on our susceptible nature with subconscious come-ons.

And we tell ourselves it’s not working. But it is, dammit!

Keep it simple, stupid. 
So much choice, so little time. With all of that temptation bombarding us every minute of the day, we become overloaded.

And what happens? Someone sneaks under our radar just by keeping their message dead simple. They offer us less choice, and we fall for it!

The herd buying instinct.
All those millions of wildebeest heading for the river together to drink. The herd buying instinct works in much the same way.

The folks we identify most with are buying it, so we buy it too.

It’s why testimonials and peer reviews work.

I want it now.
The science says that we value today more than tomorrow.

To hell with delayed gratification; we’ve seen something we like and we want it NOW. And there’s always someone willing to help us satisfy our urge to buy, with credit and interest-free purchasing, instant buying, and ever faster deliver.  

Raising the anchor.
‘Anchoring’ is cognitive bias-speak for giving one item a high price only to make other items seem cheaper.

Example: a high price on a car makes the subsequent offer of a lower price seem more acceptable – even if it’s still more than the car’s worth.

Selling shared values.
This cognitive bias is built on mutual ethical concerns.

Simply put, if a business says it cares about the same things we do, we’re more inclined to commit to their products. It doesn’t really matter that we know they’re only trying to sell us something because, hey, they’re on our side.

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