Most Purchase Decisions are Based on Emotion – Is Your Brand Positioned to Connect?

Most purchase decisions are made based on an emotional connection to a brand, product or even a salesperson.  

That’s no surprise when we’re talking about something small, such as a pack of gum, a fun pair of socks or a new lamp for the living room. But you might expect that as the cost of a purchase increases, the rational side of the brain takes over and overrules those initial feelings. Don’t major decisions remove the emotion and rely solely on facts, numbers and hard data?

You would think so.

But nope.

Woman ShoppingI spent a fortune, but these will make me look younger and sexier! Hooray!


The truth is that even major purchase decisions such as a car, house or software system are overwhelmingly based on emotion. The rest of the “research” and data gathered is simply to justify the decision.

In fact, there is actually a name for this justification: post-hoc rationalization

Raj Raghunathan, a University of Texas marketing professor and expert in consumer psychology, explains that post-hoc rationalization is “found in every aspect of our life, whenever we made decisions. We are ruled by our emotions first, and then we build justifications for our response. You can see this happening in hiring decisions, dating, you name it.”

What Does This Mean for My Brand?

Knowing how consumers make purchase decisions provides tremendous insight when it comes to marketing your business. For one thing, it gives you permission to incorporate emotion into your branding, content and overall messaging. You can be strategic about the way you position certain products and the stories that you tell.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when positioning your brand to connect with buyers:  

  • Have Personality – Sometimes brands are hesitant to show their personality, afraid they might seem less professional or not be taken seriously. But personality is important. People by from people and brands that they like. Be yourself.   
  • Be Different – Again, some companies spend a lot of time and money to position themselves exactly like every other competitor on the market. Not only is this B-O-R-I-N-G, but it’s not effective, either. Define what sets you apart, and let people know.
  • Communicate & Engage – Consistent communication with current and potential customers provides the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships. Whether it’s through social media, email, long-from content offers, contests, referral programs or other, ongoing communication is critical at all stages of the sales funnel.
  • Tell Stories – Simon Sinek famously said, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” So, let people know why you do what you do. Tell stories. Did your product change someone’s life, or least someone’s day? Will using your product positively impact someone’s job performance? Or give them more time to do other things they enjoy, such as spend time with family? Even products that don’t seem exciting or sexy on the surface have stories to tell.

At the end of the day, it’s pretty simple:

People are emotional and buy from people (and brands) that they like.

Is your brand likable?

Emily O'Shaughnessy

About the author - Emily O'Shaughnessy

Marketer, Content Creator & Consumer, Doodler & Pez Collector

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