Consumer’s Motives

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Every buyer has two motivations in common, they either want to gain something or are concerned that they might lose something if they don’t buy a particular product. Being able to identify the reason behind your customer’s buying motivation will give a salesperson an advantage over others. Research indicated that people are significantly more afraid of losing something than gaining something, which explains why selling something to a customer who needs to buy something in fear of losing out is easier and more successful than selling to someone who only wants to buy a product to have more than others.


losing effect, also described as loss aversion, has been found to be twice as powerful as gaining something. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman found that someone who managed not to lose R100 are more satisfied than someone who just won R100. Loss aversion also plays a big role in negotiating prices. A potential buyer is more inclined to agree to a higher price if the risk of losing the product is very high. A buyer who wants to trade in a car for a new car, would be less likely to negotiate a better deal on the new car if the price on his old car meets his expectations. If a dealership gives the potential buyer a much lower price for his old car, the potential buyer will either find another dealership who can offer him more or try to negotiate a better deal on the new car. Research suggest that people will pay more for a product if they feel they are treated fairly, like offering them a decent price for their old car.

The concept of framing is used in many marketing campaigns and has to do with how a product’s price is framed. Offering a product at a discounted price may draw your clients’ attention, but offering a product at a discounted price for a limited time only will draw even more attention. A limited product type sells much better than a limited product discount. The fear of losing out on a product is much higher than the fear of losing out on a discounted price.

Let’s say, for example, the potential buyer wants to buy a new car that is worth R500 000, and the dealership can give R20 000 discount. The buyer wants to trade his old car in as a deposit, and the value of the old car is R200 000. The salesperson can structure the deal in two ways:

  1. Offer a discount on the new car and sell it at R480 000, and offer the client R200 000 for his old car, or
  2. Offer the new car at R500 000 and offer to trade the client’s old car for 10% above the old car’s value.

In both cases, the total amount the client will have to pay for his new car will be R280 000. However, the client will be more prone to take option 2 because he might not get another offer of 10% higher for his old car, so the fear of loss will be greater than gaining the R20 000 discount. The importance of this example is not in the total amount of the new car, but in increasing the probability to make a sale.

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William Dawson

Writer and Reader user