Buyers Motivation: 7 Reasons Why People Buy Things (+ Tips to Sell More)

Understanding buyers motivation is what makes the difference between an ad campaign with an ultra high conversion rate and one that flops?

Buyers motivation is what drives every customer to the sale in one way or another. While every customer may have a unique motivation, nobody makes a purchase without motivation in the first place.

The key to crafting effective marketing is understanding those motivations and catering to them.

In this post, we'll talk about the 7 universal buyers motivations and how you can optimize your marketing efforts towards those motivations.

Sounds good? Let's jump in!

What is Buyers Motivation?

Buyers motivation is the set of underlying psychological factors that drive consumer purchasing decisions.

If you ran a grocery store, for instance, one of the most powerful motivations behind your customer base would be necessity. I.e. people need food to eat, so they're motivated to buy goods from you.

But some grocery stores, like Whole Foods for example,  may target customers looking for healthier options. Other's like 7/11 may target customers looking for convenient products.

Usually, a customer purchase is the result of a blend of several different motives, as opposed to just one. So, how do we apply these motives to our marketing? Let's keep reading to find out.

How to Use Buyers Motivation to Optimize Your Marketing

Every customer has a different motivations, and  equally many brand caters to different motivations, too.

The key to optimizing your business is to understand why you're customers are buying from you, and then hone in on those motivations in your marketing efforts.

But before you can pinpoint exactly why your customers are buying from you, you'll need to understand the universal buying motivations in the first place.

The 7 Universal Buyer Motivations (or Reasons Why People Buy Things)

Now that you know what buyers motivation is, let's explore the 7 psychological factors that drive people to buy things. As you read through this list, consider how each motive applies to your brand. Think about how you might capitalize on that motive in your marketing efforts.

Buyer's Motive #1: Need

Need is one of the most powerful driving forces behind any purchase, but it might not be as straightforward to market as many might think.

Things like food items and other everyday supplies fall under the "need" umbrella.

If need is a strong selling force behind your products, customers won't need to be convinced to buy them, they'll need to be convinced to buy your products.

That's why one of the best ways to increase sales is to make your products more convenient or cost-effective than competing products.

Take Hellofresh or Dollar Shave Club as two success stories from recent times:

No one needs to convince consumers that they need food or razors on a regular basis, they're already well aware of that.

Instead, these two companies rose to the tops of their industries by competing on two common pain points from their audiences:

People need more time and more money.

With Hellofresh, you can get cost-effective groceries delivered right to your door to save that time every week.

With Dollar Shave Club, you can skip out on all of the disposable razors and get them delivered to your door cheaply every week.

Those are the marketing messages that earned each company its massive success, and if your products have similar buyer motivations, it's a good idea to emulate that.

👉 How to Use Need as a Selling Force for Your Products:

  • Increase the Convenience of Your Products: If consumers need your products anyway, find ways that yours can save them time over the competition.

  • Compete with Pricing: Pricing is an effective marketing tool for need-based products.

  • Stay at the Top of Mind: Staying at the top of ecommerce customers' minds is a great way to ensure they come back to your brand when they need to go shopping again.

Buyer's Motive #2: Health

Improving health is something that nearly everyone wants to do. No one wants to be unhealthy, and often the reason for unhealthiness is that people just don't have the time or willpower to practice healthy habits every day.

So if a product comes along that can help to make that task easier? It's an easy sell.

MUD/WTR is an excellent example of a company that uses health-based marketing to its full extent.

In many of their marketing pieces, they talk about the drawbacks of coffee.

The coffee breath, the jitters, the crash, and the brain fog when you haven't had it in too long.

All in all, while coffee might have benefits - MUD/WTR is keen to talk about the drawbacks, and how their own product solves those drawbacks.

This approach of honing in on competitor disadvantages is great if your product is meant to improve customer health.

By focusing on the unhealthiness of the competition, you can emphasize the healthiness of your own product.

👉 How to Market Your Products Using Healthiness:

  • Advertise Sustainable & Organic Business Practices: Organic, sustainable practices go hand-in-hand with healthy products. If your business uses them, make it known.

  • Focus on Benefits, Not Features: MUD/WTR doesn't focus on the specific ingredients or features of its product, most of its marketing focuses on what customers can gain if they pick it over coffee.

  • Compare Your Product to Unhealthy Alternatives: Using unhealthy products as the standard helps to frame your product as an ultra-healthy alternative.

Buyer's Motive #3: Social Acceptance

People are social creatures, we all want to belong to various groups and cliques. That's exactly what makes acceptance such a powerful buyers motivation.

Acceptance as a selling point means that your product makes customers feel like they belong to a community of some sort.

One of the best examples of this? Harley Davidson:

harley owners group targeting the acceptance buyer motivation

When you buy a motorcycle, you don't just get a new chopper- You get to become part of the Harley Owners Group. (H.O.G for short)

As part of HOG, you're part of a community that includes plenty of like-minded Harley owners, as well as a whole list of benefits.

HOG members get updates on meetups, free access to the Harley Museum, and access to Harley-based events.

This all makes to be a great incentive for someone to pick Harley over another brand. You don't just own a bike, you're part of the HOG pack which foster a sense of loyalty and customer stickiness.

👉 How to Effectively Sell Products Using Acceptance:

  • Figure out your Ideal Buyer's Social Group:  What makes your target customer's fit-in with their peers? Does your brand reflect these same values and beliefs?
  • Foster a Community: If you plan on using acceptance as a selling force, it's up to you to grow and kindle a community around your product. Host events, start social media groups, and keep members in the know.

  • Use FOMO to Your Advantage: One of the biggest factors that play into acceptance selling is FOMO (fear of missing out), offering exclusive benefits to members is a great way to leverage that.

Buyer's Motive #4: Impulse

Impulse-based marketing is one of the most common tactics in eCommerce, and for good reason.

It's a great way to get quick sales and increase your revenue without needing a long marketing funnel.

Impulse decisions are quickly made, usually because of some big benefit or discount. Take this Staples ad for instance:

impulse purchase example

It's not just a chair, it's a chair for $140 for a limited time.

The ad pops with red to catch the eye, and there's a glowing review right next to the chair for added social proof.

This is a great example of how you should structure your impulse marketing pieces.

Using urgency, discount deals, and eye-catching ads is perfect for increasing impulse sales.

Be careful not to crash your conversion rate though; if you're aiming to increase impulse sales, avoid including pre-purchase upsells in your checkout page that might make customers rethink before they buy.

Instead, make use of post-purchase upsells using an app like ReConvert, which creates Amazon-style thank you pages for your store.

👉 How to Use Impulse Marketing to Increase Your Revenue:

  • Use Urgency: Scarcity & urgency is one of the main reasons customers impulse buy. Use it to your advantage.

  • Create Eye-Catching Ads: Short, snappy copy and an eye-catching ad make for a great combo to increase impulse sales.

  • Make it Hard to Say No: Offer a discount and remove all barriers between customers and the purchase. That way, there's no friction during the checkout that tanks your conversion rate.

Buyer's Motive #5: Fear

Using fear as a marketing tactic is often seen as shady practice.

And while it's true that it can be a selling point for less-than-benevolent companies, fear can be used for good too.

Take this ad as an example:

Drunk driving is no joke, but sometimes that message doesn't get through clear enough.

BMW created this ad to shock viewers, a lost leg isn't something that can be replaced easily.

The message is clear and shocking, which is exactly why it's so effective.

Using a bit of shock factor, mixed in with some humor- and they created an overnight viral hit.

While it's unlikely that most fear-based marketing will reach that level of fame, it won't hurt to take some inspiration.

👉 Tips on Using Fear as a Selling Point:

  • Hone in on Common Audience Pain Points: Fear-based marketing doesn't work if the message doesn't align with your audience. First, find out common pain points and worries amongst them and then create your messaging, not the other way around.

  • Create Shocking Messages: Shock factor can go a long way in creating messages that last in consumers' minds.

Buyer's Motive #6: Aspiration

On the opposite side of the spectrum from fear is aspiration.

Aspiration as a selling force is all about helping consumers achieve their specific goals.

Take Tone It Up as an example:

Tone It Up is a fitness brand that sells everything from exercise equipment to protein powders.

As you might've guessed, they help customers achieve exercise-related goals. If someone buys from them, it's probably a mix of the health and aspiration buying motives.

And Tone It Up uses that selling force perfectly in its blog.

Not only do they sell products to help people get more fit, they show off success stories from previous customers that've accomplished their goals.

This is one of the most powerful forms of social proof out there. If you can help your own customers achieve their goals, make sure to show that off to the crowds.

👉 How to Effectively Appeal to Aspirational Motives:

  • Learn Your Audience's Goals: To cater towards your audience's goals, it helps to create buyer's personas to understand those goals in the first place.

  • Show Off Case Studies & Success Stories: Consumers want to know that the products they buy will help them achieve their intended goal, Case studies and success stories are some of the best ways to do just that.
  • Use Influencer Marketing: Find people who your audience aspire to be like. Have these influencers promote your products and tap into the aspirational kudos their content lends your brand.

Buyer's Motive #7: Pleasure

Pleasure is one of the strongest driving forces out there, but it can be one of the trickiest to market.


Usually, pleasure-based purchases aren't necessities and don't help customers achieve any specific goal aside from enjoyment.

Which means that the selling points of those products tend to be a bit more vague.

In Solo Stove's case, they used common pain points to make their product more enticing:

Instead of just being a fire pit, Solo Stove's product is a smokeless firepit that's highly portable.

That means customers can enjoy easy-to-move bonfire-style gatherings while avoiding the common pain points of dense smoke where ever the fire is placed.

Oftentimes, the best way to market pleasure-based products is to mix in another motive.

For example, high-end perfume brands are usually pleasurable to smell. But these companies mix-in aspirational marketing to justify their high price-points.

Similarly, Domino's Pizza is pleasurable to eat (sorry Italian's). But Domino's doesn't rely solely on the quality of their product to make sales. Instead Domino's sells their pies with mixture of convenience (delivery), impulse (push notifications on Friday evening), fear (scarcity driven offers) and need (I'm hungry and there's nothing in my fridge.)

Think about how you can combine the motivation for pleasure, with other buying motive to supercharge your results.

👉 How to use Pleasure as a Selling Point:

  • Show off Social Proof: Social proof is a powerful force behind any buying motive.

  • Mix in Alternate Marketing Styles: Since these products aren't necessities, it can help to mix other motives in to make a purchase more enticing.

  • Find Pain Points from Pleasurable Activities: Even fun activities have downsides, focus on those downsides and explain to consumers why your product solves those.

Understand Buyers Motivation to Sell More Products Today

Every customer has a reason to purchase, and understanding those underlying buying motives is the key to raising your revenue.

The start of that understanding is the seven universal buyer motives and how you can cater to each:

  • Need and pleasure-based products tend to do better when they're more convenient or improve everyday life.
  • Health-based products do great when they're compared with unhealthy alternatives, or when paired with fear-based messages.
  • Acceptance as a buying motive requires a strong community to amplify that feeling.
  • Impulse decisions get made when people have FOMO or are presented with deals they can't refuse.
  • And aspiration-based products do best when brands show just how they can help customers achieve their goals.

With that all said, it always helps to hone in on pain points and common goals amongst your audience.

Some of the most effective marketing campaigns use those motives and combine them to create the best messages to bring more consumers to the brand in question.

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