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How feelings of “power” affect customers’ purchase decisions

… And by feelings of power, we mean the emotions that can affect our sense of control:

  • Fears of rising prices, getting fired, failing a test, etc., all make us feel less powerful.
  • Pay raises, seeing your sports team win, etc., make us feel more powerful.

Makes sense, right? Here’s where things get interesting…

Three business experts and academics performed a number of studies to find out how power affects people’s purchase decisions.

They hypothesized that people would buy things to compensate for a perceived psychological threat.

Then they put subjects into various situations of “less or more power.”

The result? Consumers who don’t feel powerful like having a wider variety of products and choices to “restore their autonomy.”

On the other hand, consumers who feel powerful don’t need to be reminded that they’re in control. They were content with a pack of chocolates containing fewer different flavors, for example.

Here’s how you can use this in your own marketing strategy:

1 – If your customers feel “less powerful” due to income, debt, or contextual conditions like age or job status, show them a broader range of products.

In other words, instead of showcasing a single product, draw attention to the choices available on your landing page, offer bundle deals, etc.

2 – Perceptions of power are changeable. If it’s not possible to show a variety of products, compensate by boosting your customers’ sense of autonomy. For example, you might:

Offer customization options on existing products, such as adding your name or a note.
Add slogans that emphasize autonomy, like Burger King’s “Have it your way.”

Feeling more powerful after reading this research? You’ll find even more insights, if you read the full thing.

And if you try this out, let us know how it goes!

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