Consumer Psychology and Decision-Making Process

Topic: Applied Psychology
Words: 1435 Pages: 5


Several factors influence purchasing behavior and the consumer decision-making process. Such factors as income and social class, motivation, lifestyle, and values are most impactful on high-involvement decisions (Qazzafi, 2020). These purchasing decisions present high risks to consumers because they are closely tied to the customer’s self-image and ego (Qazzafi, 2019). The risks involved could be social, financial, or psychological in nature. For example, expensive goods such as cars will bring high financial risk to the consumer. The first factor selected for discussion is ‘motivation, lifestyle, and values’ because it is an internal factor that is not apparent on the outside. Marketers cannot differentiate their target groups by looking at them when this factor is concerned. The second factor is income and social class, which, unlike the first mentioned factor, can be determined from the outside through the clothes worn, cars are driven, or malls where consumers shop.

The consumer decision-making process involves a series of steps an individual takes to buy a product. According to Qazzafi (2019), it begins with need recognition or problem identification, during which a consumer discovers that the product or service is necessary. For example, a family expansion might disclose the importance of buying a home instead of staying in rented apartments. Information searching is the second step, as the consumer looks for knowledge about existing solutions in the market. The person then evaluates all the possible solutions available in the market, selects the most suitable one depending on the various factors discussed in this paper, and finally makes the purchase.

Motivations, Lifestyles, and Values

Buyer motivations are fundamental in the consumer decision-making process but can be difficult to tell. Marketing research shows that only 25% of customers reveal their motives early to the vendors (Herawati, Prajanti, & Kardoyo, 2019). Therefore, the seller must determine what essentially brings the customer to their store to gain an insight into their motives. Ideally, the consumer’s motivations are psychological aspects that influence the purchasing process. There are internal and external motivations that affect every step of the decision-making process (Herawati et al., 2019). The process begins with motivation from a need or problem that requires a solution, but motives commonly change throughout the process. For example, a consumer might have settled on a car model for purchase, but a negative review from a friend who has used the car can demotivate the customer to buy it.

Lifestyles determine whom consumers relate with and where they live and ultimately influence their purchase process. High-involvement products such as homes, insurance, and cars greatly reflect a person’s lifestyle (Qazzafi, 2020). For example, people who love the beach and some fresh air will choose their dream home differently from those who love the nightlife of a big city and parties. Even with an equal income, these consumers will make quite distinct home choices. In addition, lifestyle might influence the perceived self-image a consumer has to protect or uphold when buying products (Herawati et al., 2019). For example, people who are high in the corporate ladder or politically powerful feel the need to maintain a distinction in their lifestyles, including their clothing, cars, homes, estates, and the hotels they might stay in. Therefore, a large-scale farmer with a similar or bigger income than the CEO of a small company could be driving a less expensive car than the CEO does. The CEO’s lifestyle demands luxury display, while the farmer’s lifestyle only requires functionality, safety, and reliability.

Values are beliefs the consumer holds about some conditions or products. Although values are interconnected and widely shared, some central beliefs guide each consumer’s judgment and evaluative ability (Qazzafi, 2020). For example, a college student might feel that enjoying life is the most important value while a parent holds on to family stability and children’s safety. Therefore, when advertising vacations to these two consumers, the marketer must appeal to each one’s central values. The college student will be more attracted to the promotional message if there are elements of adventure and fun activities. The parent will also look for fun but not at the expense of the children’s safety. Therefore, some extremely adventurous activities might not be attractive to the parental value of safety.

Income and Social Class

The level of income determines a consumer’s available economic resources for the purchase. It determines the customer’s ability or inability to pay for the products, making it the most important factor influencing consumer decision-making (Qazzafi, 2020). For example, low-level income earners who cannot afford a home are unlikely to begin the search for one. Instead, they will focus on searching for rental spaces to cater to their shelter needs. Individuals or families with high-level incomes have more disposable wealth and can buy luxury items and focus on style more than functionality. Income includes wages and salaries earned y working and interests gained from investments (Qazzafi, 2020). Therefore, people who have inherited vast amounts of wealth in the form of estates might have higher incomes than employed workers might. Overall, income gives the power to buy and choose between products.

Income affects a person’s choice of items in terms of quality and the stores or hotels they visit. For example, most people who visit Louis and Vuitton stores have high-income levels because LV is a luxury brand that is highly-priced. Kaur and Kochar (2018) found that income levels determine willingness to buy online and the mode of payment selected. Without much disposable income, people focus on utility rather than style and comfort. For example, most middle-income earners buy cars for reliability and safety, while high-income earners may want the newest designs and styles. Income often affects the initial stages of the decision-making process. While a high-income earner may feel the need to replace their car with the latest model, a middle- or low-level-income earner will not even consider replacing a functional car. With less disposable income, consumers may not be constantly looking for new ways to spend their money, but as disposable income increases, customers may be open to making purchases that meet unidentified needs. For instance, wealthy individuals might consider buying a new car model due to its advertisement even though such a need did not exist.

A mix of education, income, wealth, and occupation often determines social classes. Therefore, social class has a profound effect on consumer decision-making process as it includes several factors that individually influence purchase decisions (Fernandes & Panda, 2019). Social class also influences motivations and lifestyles, further affecting purchasing decisions (Qazzafi, 2019). While income and wealth greatly define social groups, they are not synonymous. For instance, an accountant who has accumulated stock with the company might have a high income but will often be in a lower social class than a university professor with a similar or lower income will. Consumers in the same social groups are likely to make closely related purchasing decisions and marketers should target these similarities.

Social groups also influence individuals into making buying decisions and actual purchases. For example, college students might create influence others to buy expensive Apple watches or the latest smartphones. Therefore, if a marketer is able to create such a trend or notices the trend they can take advantage of the influence through promotional messages (Fernandes & Panda, 2019). A perfect example of social class influence is the rise of Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F). The company’s marketers sought to create what became the perfect image of a young American (Lascity, 2018). Consequently, every youth across America felt under pressure to buy A&F clothes or accessories to remain acceptable. The influence was most effective among college students because the advertising images featured their age mates.


In conclusion, motivations, lifestyle, values, income, and social classes have a profound influence on purchase decisions. Motives determine how much effort and resources a consumer is willing to put into the decision-making process. They can be internal or external and influenced by reviews and feedback from friends, family, and perceived experts. Lifestyles are quite different from one person to another but are related to people within the same social classes. A consumer’s lifestyle affects their choices of products through likes and dislikes. Values are often learned from family and the communities people grow. Therefore, they are interconnected, but central values remain unique and cannot be changed. These influence how the consumer makes judgments and evaluates products. Income affects purchase decisions because it gives or denies the power to pay for desired goods and services. Social classes involve peer influence and define lifestyles that consumers would like to maintain to feel belongingness and acceptability. These needs determine how the customer moves through the consumer decision-making process.


Fernandes, S., & Panda, R. (2019). Influence of social reference groups on consumer buying behavior: A review. Journal of management research, 19(2), 131-142.

Herawati, H., Prajanti, S. D. W., & Kardoyo, K. (2019). Predicted purchasing decisions from lifestyle, product quality and price through purchase motivation. Journal of Economic Education, 8(1), 1-11. Web.

Kaur, H., & Kochar, R. (2018). A review of factors affecting consumer behavior towards online shopping. International Journal of Engineering and Management Research (IJEMR), 8(4), 54-58. Web.

Lascity, M. E. (2018). Girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch: Reading fashion-branding aesthetics into music videos. Studies in Communication Sciences, 18(2), 325-337.

Qazzafi, S. (2020). Factor affecting consumer-buying behavior: A conceptual study. International Journal for Scientific Research & Development, 8(2), 1205-1208.

Qazzafi, S. H. E. I. K. H. (2019). Consumer buying decision process toward products. International Journal of Scientific Research and Engineering Development, 2(5), 130-134.

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