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Buying Motives of Consumers

There is a motive behind every human activity. So, the purchasing behavior of the consumers also has a motive behind it. One would not simply go and buy something. Someone decides to buy something only when he feels an inner impulse that leads him to buying.

The buying motives of consumers are the influences or motivating forces that affect the buying behavior of consumers. Simply put, the buying motive is the inner feeling, urge, Instinct, drive, desire or stimulus, that leads a buyer to buy a specific product or services.

Types of buying motives:

There are mainly two types of buying motives which include product and patronage buying motives. Both these buying motives are further classified into two sub-types including emotional and rational.

Product buying motives :

  • Emotional product buying motives
  • Rational product buying motives

Patronage buying motives:

  • Emotional patronage buying motives
  • Rational patronage buying motives

Product buying motives:

Product buying motives are the buying motives that (reasons and influences) that make a buyer choose a certain product over the other products. For example, you choose a certain bath soap like Dove over the other soaps available at the retailer.

Product buying motives are subdivided into two groups- Emotional product buying motives and rational product buying motives.


Emotional product buying motives are emotional influences or emotional reasons that make a buyer purchase a certain product or the other.  A person is involved in emotional buying when he does not logically think before buying a product. The following types are included under product buying motives:  

Pride or prestige: –

Pride or prestige are important influences that cause buyers to prefer certain products over the others. For example, buyers purchase certain products over the other because they feel a sense of pride in owning those products. If a buyer prefers a BMW over a Mercedez, or a Gucci over another fashion brand, it is because they feel pride of owning that product. It is also a common marketing tactic used by marketers across various industry sectors. They appeal to the sense of pride of a buyer to sell their product.

Emulation or imitation:-

People learn through imitation. This is a common buying motive. You see someone having a product and then go and buy the product because you think you too should have the product. A child sees his friend playing with a toy and wants to own the same toy. A lady sees her friend having a purse and wants to buy the same purse. In this way, emulation or imitation is a common buying motive. People see a celebrity wearing a certain dress and want to buy a similar one because they feel the desire to imitate the celebrity. There are several brands that use celebrity marketing or influencer marketing because it drives their followers towards that particular product or style.


Affection or love is an important drive of buying behavior in our world. A father buying for his son, a mother buying for his daughter or a husband buying for his wife, are all examples of love or affection driving buying behavior.

Comfort or desire for comfort:

Comfort is also an important motive that drives buying behavior in our world. There are so many products that we buy simply for the sake of comfort. From fridges to washing machines and even automobiles are bought for the sake of comfort. There are hundreds of such products that we have bought simply for the sake of comfort.

Sex appeal or sexual attraction:

Sex appeal or sexual attraction is also an important motive behind the purchase of several products. The desire to feel sexually attractive drives people to buy products that make them appear attractive to the opposite sex. From cosmetics to dresses and personal grooming products, there are hundreds of such examples that are bought for the sake of being attractive.


Ambition is also an important motive driving buying behavior in our world. Ambition can be understood as the desire to achieve or win. Someone wants to become a doctor or have an MBA degree but since he does not have the necessary financial support, he decides to take a correspondence course that comes for cheaper.

Desire for distinctiveness or individuality:

The desire to express one’s individuality or the feeling of being distinct from others is also an important motive driving buying behavior. For example, one may own a certain type of dress, a tie, shoes, ring or watch for the sake of being distinct. Customers may buy  certain things that they things are not owned by everyone else.

Desire for recreation or pleasure:

Desire for recreation or pleasure are also important emotional buying motives. For example, one watches a certain genre of movies or likes a specific brand of music players. People’s need for recreation or pleasure drives them to subscribe to services like Netflix or Spotify.

Hunger and thirst:

Hunger or thirst are also classified among the emotional buying motives. People buy specific foodstuffs or drinks to satisfy their hunger and thirst. Even food and beverages brands try to touch the emotional chords of their customers to attract them. This is commonly visible in the marketing strategy used by Coca Cola, Pepsi and other food or beverages brands.


Rational product buying motives refer to the buying motives that drive the consumers to careful consideration before making a purchase. Sometimes, people are driven by only their emotions, but many times they make purchases after logically considering the outcome. They think consciously before deciding which product to buy.

Safety or security:

Safety or security is not just an important class of needs but also an important class of product buying motives. There are several products that we buy simply because they make us feel safer. Consumers buy certain products that make them feel financially safe. We make financial investments or send our children abroad for higher education to make their future safe. Consumers keep certain medicines ready at home, or buy lockers to keep their jewellery safe. In this way, safety is a leading motive behind consumers’ product buying behavior.


We make careful choices when buying automobiles or electronics. It is particularly true about the middle class or price conscious consumers. Such consumers consider prices, efficiency and factors like fuel or power consumption before making a purchase. All these factors are considered for the sake of economy because consumers want to save on operating costs and time. Cars that offer higher fuel economy are more popular in the emerging markets like India. Similarly, electronics brands highlight the product attributes like lower, power and fuel consumption and longevity to sell their products.

Relatively lower prices:

If consumers flock to Walmart, Amazon or Flipkart and compare prices on their websites before buying a product, it is because they want to save money. Sometimes, brands that offer nearly matching quality with a higher priced product end up selling more. If there is a considerable price difference but only a small difference in terms of quality, consumers are more likely to gravitate towards the lower priced brand.


Suitability or how much a particular product suits a buyer and his lifestyle is an important factor driving consumer behavior. Two buyers reach a car showroom. One of them buys an SUV and the other buys a sedan. It is simply because of the difference in their lifestyles that they consider one more suitable over the other.

Utility or Versatility:

In economics utility relates to useability or usefulness of a product or the quality of a product making it suitable for a variety of purposes. People often buy things that have utility or can be utilized in a variety of purposes.

Durability of the product:

One of the leading rational product buying motives is the durability of the product. People buy several products only on the basis of durability. The price conscious consumers particularly look for more durable products that last longer. For example, in the Asian markets, a large number of brands advertise their products and mainly electronics and electrical products on the basis of their durability.

Convenience of the product:

People buy several products only because they offer higher convenience. People buy many products simply because these products offer extra convenience. For example, people buy smart watches for the extra convenience they offer.


Patronage buying motives refer to mainly those buying motives that make a buyer prefer a certain brand, product or shop over the others in the market. When you select a certain retailer over the other to buy from there is a patronage buying motive behind it.

Patronage buying motives are also classified into two types including emotional patronage buying motives and rational patronage buying motives.

Emotional Patronage Buying Motives:

Several types consumers patronize a certain shop over the others and that too without applying any logic or reasoning. There is a patronage buying motive behind such buying behavior. Emotional patronage buying motives are further classified into the following types:

Appearance of the shop:

Appearance of the shop is also a leading emotional patronage buying motive. There are a large number of brands with attractive store designs that enjoy higher brand loyalty and sales. Such businesses attract customers through the attractive appearance of a shop. These shops provide a superior shopping experience and customers are more likely to patronize such shops.

Display of goods in the shop:

How the goods are displayed inside a shop is also an important emotional patronage buying motive. Goods should be arranged on the shelves in a manner that it is more convenient for users to reach them and look at them.  Moreover, attractive display of goods in the shop also appeals to the customers and leads to repeat visits. Customers are more likely to make repeat visits to shops where goods are displayed attractively.

Recommendation of others:

Another leading emotional patronage buying motive is the recommendation of others. People are more likely to buy from a business that has been recommended by their friends, relatives or acquaintances. Recommendation of others is an important influence that affects buying behavior and the size of purchase. For example, we seek the suggestion of others before making key purchases.


Imitation is also a common emotional patronage buying motive. Some people patronize a particular shop or brand because they see others patronizing the brand or shop. When you see someone buying from a shop repeatedly, you feel curious and want to buy from the same. If you see someone feeling more satisfied after buying from a specific shop, you too feel like buying from the same shop. In this way, imitation becomes a key emotional patronage driving behavior.


Prestige is a key driver of consumer behavior. However, it is also an important drive of emotional patronage buying behavior. For instance, some people like to dine at a specific restaurant because they feel it is more prestigious to be there. They would buy dresses from a particular brand because they think it is more prestigious to wear that brand.


Another leading emotional patronage buying motive is habit. Some people shop from a specific shop or brand because it has become their habit. They have been using a particular brand of soap and will buy it every time when they need soap. Sometimes habits can be difficult to lose and people would habitually reach the same shop or mall looking for products they need.


Rational patronage buying motives include buying motives where patronizing behavior by the customer follows after careful consideration. Here are the types of rational patronage buying motives:


Convenience is a critical driver of buying behavior. People like to buy from shops which are in the proximity of their homes. It is because they find it convenient to buy from them. Several leading brands open their stores in locations where they are in the proximity to a large number of buyers.

Apart from buying location, convenient timings are also an important factor influencing buyer behavior. For example, some shops remain open for longer in the evening. Many people who return late from work make purchases form these shops. In this way, convenient timings also drive buying behavior.


Pricing is also a crucial factor that affects buying behavior and choices of consumers. There are several businesses which are always ready to sacrifice a portion of their profit margins to attract a large base of consumers. Why would someone buy from Walmart or Costco? It is because they charge lower prices. Prices are among leading drivers of rational patronage buying motives.


Several shops offer credit facilities to their regular and loyal consumers. People who do not always have enough cash to make cash purchases, buy from the shops offering credit facilities. There are a large number of brands that allow customers to make big ticket purchases in easy and smaller instalments. While someone would not choose to buy the same product when he has to pay the entire price upfront, when offered on credit the customer has no problem buying the same product.


There are a large number of brands and shops that offer additional services and many of which for free to maintain demand and sales. Such services also drive consumers to buy from specific brands or showrooms. For example, if a vehicle brand offers extra maintenance services at one location for free or at lower prices, it attracts a larger number of customers. Services can be crucial drivers of rational patronage buying motive.


Efficient salesman can also drive repeat purchases and higher customer loyalty. Shops or brands that hire efficient salesman are able to attract a larger number of customers, generate positive word of mouth and grow their sales without much effort.  Capable salesmen are able to engage consumers and drive more sales. However, efficient salesmen do not always focus on driving more sales but on keeping customers satisfied.  When customer satisfaction is higher, buyers will patronize the particular shop. In this way, the efficiency of the sales staff can also be a key driver of rational patronage buying behavior of consumers.


A wider choice of goods or availability of a higher variety of products can also drive consumers towards a particular shop or brand. It can also be a crucial driver of rational patronage buying behavior. For example, one buyer enters a shop and while he buys just a few products, he sees that there is a very wide selection of products available at the shop that he regularly uses.

He starts patronizing the shop and makes regular purchases from there. It is why several leading retail brands including Walmart offer a very large assortment of products to cater to all the everyday needs of their customers. This results in more repeat visits. It is just as true about the big brands as small businesses. In this way, wider assortment of product choices can be a crucial driver of rational patronage buying behavior.


Another rational patronage buying motive driving buying behavior among the consumers is the type of treatment that a brand or shop offers to its customers. For example, consumers patronize brands or shops that offer superior customer service or treat their customers well.  Shops that treat their customers courteously are able to retain their customers for longer.


Reputation or image are important factors driving consumer buying behavior. It is an important rational patronage buying motive that drives buying behavior among consumers. Brands that have maintained a strong reputation or strong brand image can achieve growth easily compared to those with a weaker reputation. There are several factors that can help a business build its reputation including quality, customer service and other factors. Ethical business practices are also important for businesses to maintain a strong reputation. For example, people would like to buy from businesses that they know to be more ethical and to deal honestly with customers.