marketer is seeking to address three basic questions:

Why does the customer want to buy a particular product or service?

How will he or she decide which option to purchase?

What factors may influence this decision?

Consumer Motivation

The study of consumer motivation essentially addresses the question: “Why do people shop?”

According to Tauber, there are two main categories of motivation for shopping:

Personal Motives:

Role Playing




Physical Activity

Sensory Stimulation

Social Motives:

Social Interaction

Peer Affiliation

Status & Authority

Pleasure of Bargaining

Motivation: The Psychodynamic Approach

Motivation featured prominently in Freudian theory. Freud himself subscribed to the principle of psychological determinism; the idea that no aspect of human behaviour is ever accidental, even if it appears so to us at times. Key to this deterministic view of behaviour is the dynamic unconscious, hidden drives, desires, fantasies and anxieties directing all behaviour.

the topographical model of the mind. consists of three psychological apparatus; the id, the ego and the super-ego.

The id is the instinctual part of the mind, driving all behaviour toward instant gratification of basic animalistic needs; i.e. hunger, thirst, sexual arousal, etc.

The super-ego, by contrasts, represents the internalised rules of society by which we live; laws, moral codes, social pressures, etc.

According to Freud, the id and the super-ego are often in conflict, our basic needs as animals and opportunities for satisfying them being at odds with the standards by which we live. This conflict creates anxiety and, if left unresolved, is the cause of all mental illness. third mental structure, the ego, which serves as an intermediary between the id and the super-ego, devising ways of behaviour that reduce potential conflict. It is the interplay between these three “structures” that gives psychodynamic theory its name.

To illustrate this structure in operation, imagine you are very hungry and are in a supermarket, surrounded by all your favourite foods.

Freud’s main contribution to motivational research is that he presents us with a model that accommodates the interrelationships between biological factors (id), social influences (super-ego) and human consciousness (ego).

has very little bearing on marketing strategy and, in the main, the Freudian legacy is mainly to be found in personality research. Freud himself only ever directly observed wealthy, largely female individuals in Vienna, many argue that his theory is based upon a very particular culture.

two exceptions to the limitations of psychodynamic theory.

Firstly, Freud believed that many of the individual’s needs and desires are hidden in the unconscious and not readily accessible. Freud developed techniques collectively termed psychoanalysis

second contribution has been in the development of advertising campaigns. For instance, advertisers influenced by psychodynamic theory often develop campaigns utilising sexual themes in an attempt to appeal to the basic desires of the Id.

Freudian theory gives us a unique insight into the potential conflict between internal desires and social demands. It highlights the ways in which basic human needs may direct behaviour, often without conscious recognition.

Motivation: The Humanistic Approach

focusing upon positive aspects of behaviour, such as love, growth and self-development, rather than the traditional preoccupation with abnormal behaviour.

became known as humanistic psychology

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs bottom to top:

Biological – basic physiological needs for food, water, sleep, etc.

Safety – needs for shelter, protection, safety, security, etc.

Socialization – affection, friendship, love, acceptance, etc.

Self-Esteem – prestige, accomplishment, success, status, etc.

Self-Actualisation – self-fulfilment, achieving one’s potential, enriching experiences, etc.

The problem here, however, is that the concept of the hierarchical organisation of these needs does not really match empirical evidence. Belk (1988), for example, interviewed a Romanian family who went without food in order to buy a refrigerator, regarded as a status symbol in that particular society at the time. This suggests that esteem needs can sometimes come before basic biological needs.

The Consumer Resource Exchange Model (CREM)

The top line of the model is an adaptation of their previous general model of motivation. According to the general model, human beings have various needs, desires and expectations, known collectively as activators, which surface to create a state of mental disequilibrium. Humans are motivated to reduce that disequilibrium, and so engage in actions and behaviours to achieve this within the time constraints available. The end goal is equilibrium restored, but the individual is only driven to reach this destination by incentives.

To illustrate the general model in action, imagine that a consumer experiences a craving for cigarette, but has none in the house (the activator). She feels anxious and becomes increasingly unable to concentrate (disequilibrium). The consumer has only a few minutes to spare before the children return home from school, so she quickly goes to the corner shop for a packet of cigarettes, even though the supermarket she normally uses further away has lower prices (actions within time constraints). Propelled along by the craving for a cigarette (the incentive), the consumer smokes one and her anxiety subsides (goal achieved).

The point is, human beings often have many simultaneous needs and a key function of any motivational theory must be to describe how they prioritise those needs.

Approaching the problem from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, Bristow and Mowen reasoned that human behaviour has always been motivated by the need to acquire, use and conserve resources. modern society is equally resource-driven

Where conflicting needs arise, we simply prioritise according to the outcome we value the most and the costs associated with achieving it

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CREM model classifies needs according to the extent to which the individual is seeking to acquire, conserve or protect them.

CREM diagram suggests that consumer behaviour is driven largely by four main types of need:

Financial Resource

Informational Resource

Physical Resource

Social Resource

we often have to prioritise and spend one to accumulate another.

second key point; individuals differ in the priority they attach to different resource categories.

To summarise, CREM is one of the very few models specifically designed to focus upon consumer motivations.  classifies consumer needs in terms of the evolutionary ...

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