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When A Consumer Buys A BMW, They're Not Really Buying A Car. Do You Know What Consumers Are Really Buying?

Last updated 7 years ago

Why do you shop at the mall for clothes when you can just as easily purchase clothes from a local thrift store. Why do you opt to purchase your car from a BMW dealership over a used car dealer.

Sure, the thrift shop clothes and used car will cover the same needs as expensive clothes or a sleek new BMW. But what makes people choose one over the other? We make purchase decisions based on needs but while thrift shop clothes cover the same basic, civilized need of being clothed, buying more expensive, brand-new clothes buys you fashion insurance and reduces the perceived social risk of wearing the wrong ones. We don't choose a BMW over a 15 year old Hyundai because of the BMW's sleek features. Both cars will get us from Point A to Point B but with the purchase of a BMW comes increased perceived status, prestige, perceived wealth and success.

Theodore Levitt states that "people buy products ... in order to solve problems. Products are problem-solving tools." While that may be true, people don't just purchase a product to solve a single problem. If we did, we'd all just be shopping at Goodwill instead of Neiman Marcus.

We like to claim we make decisions based on logical factors, but when it comes down to decision time we predominantly make decisions based on emotional factors. We may buy products but we purchase dreams. We purchase benefits that provide us with safety, beauty, sex appeal, financial freedom, status or glowing health. Products are nothing more than the delivery vehicle for those needs.

Think of these benefits in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs which theorizes that a product can solve more than one problem at a time because of our inner desire to fulfill an ascending "hierarchy of needs" that go from physiological to psychological.

Rarely do people buy products simply for their minimal satisfaction of the lowest-level need therefore when creating your marketing messages you always want to climb the ladder and appeal to the highest possible need. What is the highest possible benefit that your product or service offers?

Let's look at 2 examples: Jif and Nike.

Jif's slogan: Choosy moms choose Jif promises more than satisfying the physiological need of hunger (we all know that peanut butter fulfills that need). Jif promises to fulfil the higher-order needs of love, nurturance and maternal competence. After all, those are what is at stake when a mother buys food for her children. Buying Jif reflects well on Mom.

Nike doesn't just sell stylish, durable athletic gear. Their well-known phrases - "Just do it" and "There is no finish line" sell the transcendence of sweat, self-actualization through the testing of the self.

When creating marketing messages remember that your clients want to know how you can help them look younger, find their soul mate, gain acceptance, increase their perceived status or feel loved. Success comes from knowing how your product solves consumer needs at the highest level.

Your consumers aren't searching for the product that can do the least for them but one that will do the most.

What other examples have you seen of brands appealing to the highest hierarchy needs?


Nike & Jif examples from "Advertising Concept & Copy" by George Felton. 


If you'd like to learn more about crafting your marketing messages and establishing a dominant Internet presence contact:

Dawn Bishop | 321.422.6600 x133

Leslie Whittaker | 321.422.6600 x122

TeamBishop are your local Internet marketing consultants with ReachLocal Orlando. Our mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven online marketing strategies. Give us a call today to schedule your free consultation.



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