Why people buy?

Background: 7 years at AU business/consumer behaviour lecturer

Lifestyle is directly related to consumer behaviour

Imagery influences – layers of different key visual indicators of wealth, etc

People are constantly filtering out information we see, identifying association with other thing thats connect you within the advert can encourage and create a reason to buy the product and brand. If the advert shares the same interests, aspiration or ideals that someone has, the person is more likely to buy into the product as it reflects them and their personality.

Associations can also have a negative impact, if brands have strong associations with a celebrity and the celebrity starts to be seen negatively in the public eye, it can affect the repartition of the brand. E.g Tiger Woods meltdown in 2009, sports drink Gatorade dropped Tiger Woods as a sponsor just eleven days after new reports started to leak regarding his infidelity and on the same day his prime time adverts were also stopped from airing.  Society associates the brand with the celebrity which can negatively affect the brand if the celebrity is started to be seen negatively. (Agencies, “Tiger Woods timeline: how his world went into meltdown”, 2009)

Function > Identity > Social > Cultural

Product designers focus more on function but the three following steps after are a dominant part for why people buy.

Function – TYRES

Basic information, why it will meed your needs due to the function, price of the function being worth it. Delivering the best experience due to function. Conveyed visually within adverts

Emotion – CUDDLY  AD

Using kids to pull heart strings. Functionally fabric softer is an additional optional product, not needed to clean clothes or washing machines. Using the idea that kids love things cuddly ad they are thankful to mums that use it.

Levels of Maslow’s hierarchy

Driven for basic needs. In society once someone feels like basic needs (first 2 levels) are meet, people strive to meet the other needs. Teenagers may strive to meet the belonging Cleveland are motivated to achieve it. Brands logos, slogans and association to levels. Using peoples natural wants to appeal to them. Western specific – priorities

Sense of self

Complex, not one thing multiple things. Who we see ourselves individually vs persona ( different for people) multiple representations of how people see you – how your parents see you, parter, friends, siblings.

Advertising how you want to see yourself will mirror how your peers, partner, parents see you.

e.g Nike – the different versions an individual sees themselves. “leave your old self behind” – being better, pushing yourself, the voice inside your head of self doubt. Relatable to the average person that may face the wall when running. Self dynamic of who am I and how you approach the situation and how you would want to approach the situation vs reality – can it be better? will this product/service help/improve you and get you to this place.

Supermodel – I may not be able to achieve it in reality but buying this product or service will make me feel like a supermodel or look closer to a supermodel – common in women advertisements. Beauty advertisements

Appearance – Clothing and look communicating who we are and who we want to be. Interview vs date. Different emotions trying to be conveyed. Those values of what we are communicating and symbolising is what we value and how we are convey. Similar to what car people choose to drive. May alter to where we are going and who we are around but there is a baseline of values we have that we want to be contiguously conveyed – personality/identity

Some people protease differently –  If your very into cars the car you drive is a reflection if you, if your an athlete the sports gear you have may be the reflection of who you are.


Social driver through our consumption behaviour

‘Asch Conformity experiments’

The impact of reference/social groups. If you want to be part of a group, you want to appear and consume the way they do. Visual perception and group conformity, will someone agree with others even though they think its right. “ we will confirm to the group, we don’t want to seem to rock the boat.” Even though you may not believe what others think, we don’t want to be thought of as wrong or different to others. What is socially acceptable? Having societies opinion differ from you causing self doubt. Constantly looking around for social cues of acceptance and guidance. The degree of conformity is dependant of age, culture and personality.

2/3 of goods and services are sold buy word of mouth.

Word of mouth being really important to sell goods and services. Hype is the modern day word of mouth. If people are highly regain something on social media or within a peer group, a basic product can gain a following.

The power of the social group. People don’t want to be an outlier.


Culture is the greatest social group. It is where you are from. You are born into this social group without needed to try or do anything. People that have the sae culture in common will probably have a lot of behaviours in common – the use of time, conformity, spending, importance of appearance, values.

Pineapple Lumps – Kiwi association, specific and individual to NZ, a lot of the ads tap into how pineapple lumps are special to NZ. A cultural story – a taste of hoe if you are no longer there.

Different concepts and emphasis

Culture can tell you what is important and what should be a priority.

Self vs Self and the product can resolve the inner turmoil of to being good enough and being better.

Mythology influences. Making an ordinary object sacred. story of transformation, being better, its more then just perfume or a straightener. It is a transformational tool. Disney princesses are a common story telling.

Goddess myth – Venus (literally a goddess of beauty?) transforming yourself.

Hero myth  – Mr Muscle/Lynx – being manly, you can solve and save the day if you have this product. Lynx – you will get the outcome of the hero by spraying yourself.

Packaging, storytelling having a major influence on the consumer and what they buy and why.

Do you think NZ has a social class hierarchy?

Jaffas – how people think of aucklanders

how aucklanders think of people who live elsewhere, hamilton.

Where you live, what school you go to, how you speak.


NZ is evolving, due to access of wealth. where you live and socially how they appear.


the different demographics that effect the ranking of social class and repartation

‘ Veblen’s conspicuos consumption ‘

true high fashion is about being different and being separate to others vs how regular people approach fashion as trying to be the same trend as others.

When moving from one class to another, buy things that represent their new class

people will seek out goods that reflect this – sense of self is changing as we change social class.

Baby shower, graduation – celebration of a life event that is changing your life. Transitioning from one stage to another. When people are in a stage of transition they use the way they consume and the goods to show this.

SKIN – Having whiter skin meant that you were inside and you are indoor. If you had darker skin you are outside, a labourer. You are not wealth,

SKIN – If you can afford to be on holiday and on the beach tanning, then you are not inside at work constantly.

Physic – If you look great its is because you have the resources and time to do so

You are better if you have something. You are the desirable version of people within your peer group. Reference group , who is the best.


In NZ there is more of a blur between wealth compared to other countries. But a social class development will occur, due to access to wealth. Money that has been passed down vs new money that someone has started to accumulate within a family that has is a new territory for family. Status anxiety of self reassurance symbolising new wealth – obvious vs old money, generational value, paintings, heirlooms, prestigious, exclusivity

Shopping Experience – affecting the way you feel and the way you consume.

High end stores vs Middle class stores

Minimal selection of display product vs mass products

You get more for your money(mass consumption cheap pricing – warehouse) vs the exclusivity and prestige of the one product. (LV, luxe stores, the doors are shut) Are you allowed in there., not anyone can be and can even enter the store, security within the stores an extra layer of exclusivity of being allowed to be in there and accepted to be in there.

LV QUEEN ST – I have never actually seen the doors open.

Aspirational celebrities – David Beckham and Victoria Burberry endorsement – Celebs that made it out of working class influences working class people to consume burberry product. Was actually a negative result for Burberry’s repression as a old money brand.

Being sustainable costs – Cultural capital

you need time, money, resources

Design of stores

  • boutique stores have a list of brand they sell, trying to be relatable.

Footlocker vs LV. The same person maybe treated differently. A ‘gangster’ maybe followed closely in LV or even not allowed in, throwned out. This same person I have been told to give my full attention to at work as the ‘gangster’ type usually wants to splurge out and have all the gears, drug money, new money

Barriers these stores creates

Disablity, culturally, class, wealth, lifestyle.



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