Clientbook Blog
January 26, 2023

How to unlock your customers' buying motivations

The pandemic years saw unprecedented retail purchases in some sectors, particularly jewelry. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, sales are slowing down month over month. Data from their December 2022 report shows that sales are down 1.1% from the previous month, with the trend expected to continue downward. 

Economic experts predict that consumer behavior in the U.S. will involve less spending in the retail sector as a potential recession looms. So what's a retailer to do when looking to retain their current customers and expand their customer base during such a time?

Discovering what types of buyer motivations are impacting potential customers' purchasing decisions is the key to understanding how to attract and retain loyal customers in today's market. 

Not sure what reasons customers come into your store? Read on to learn more about why customers buy. 

What is a buyer motivation? 

Simply put, a buyer motivation is what encourages a customer to buy something. Whether that's a feeling, a discount, or other external factors, if it serves as a catalyst for action and influences consumer behavior, it's a motivator. 

Having a detailed understanding of what types of buyer motivation influences your customers is crucial for meeting your sales goals, especially during a turbulent economic climate.

Examples of common buyer motivations 

If you're new to the concept of buyer motivations, or just aren't sure what motivates customers in your industry, we've listed a few common reasons why customers buy.

They buy because it feels good

To understand why customers buy, we need to understand human emotions. Dopamine, that chemical in our brain that makes us feel good, is released when you do things like get a hug, accomplish something for the first time, and yes, reward yourself with a purchase. Hence the term "retail therapy." These are emotional motivations.

The pandemic years are a great example of this. Buyers were living in uncertain times—they were fearful, alone, and needed to connect. Nearly everyone wanted to be distracted from the real world. And with travel out of the question, that meant extra spending money was available for some feel-good shopping.

While the pandemic may not have as tight a grip on the world as it did before, you can still capitalize on those same emotional buying motives today. As retailers, when you remember a shopper's birthday, anniversary, or just remind them that you care, they feel good—and you feel good, too!

They buy because they need it

Next, some buying decisions are made because a customer has a need that a purchase can fulfill. For example, in the fashion industry, a customer may need a new coat as the weather gets colder, or a better fitting pair of jeans.

However, a buyer's needs can extend beyond the physical. Humans also have a need to feel accepted. Or a need to show appreciation for others. What kinds of needs can your products fulfill? The sooner you have an answer to this question, the sooner you'll be able to both invite and retain satisfied customers.

They buy to save money and avoid loss

This next one might seem counterintuitive, but another common customer motivation to buy is financial gain. It may seem odd to think of a buyer motivated by saving when they're actually spending money, but buying something when it goes on sale is a way to avoid future loss.

When something a shopper needs but can't quite afford is suddenly reduced in price, they just have to buy it. Been looking at those shoes for a month and suddenly they're 50% off? That's when they'll storm the store. Sales give customers a psychological advantage.

However, retailers have to beware of sales fatigue. If it feels like a store is always having sales, then there is no sense of urgency for potential customers. But that twice-yearly big sale, or sales on selective items will always ring true.

They buy on impulse

Another common tactic that retailers rely on is impulse sales. According to a survey by Slickdeals, the average person spends $314 per month on impulse purchases. Making impulse decisions often stems from an initial motivation to save money and avoid loss. 

If a buyer sees a great deal their favorite retailer is offering on a product, they may make an impulse decision to head into the store when they wouldn't have otherwise. 

Impulse sales also go hand in hand with emotional purchase decisions. The same Slickdeals survey found that the top emotions shoppers feel after making a purchase include happiness (41%) and excitement (40%). 

They buy because they can

Lastly, there is always a segment of the population that seems immune to recessions or inflation. They buy whenever they want, simply because they can.

For example, luxury customers will always buy the big-ticket items because they want stuff that nobody else has. Items that are limited edition are especially popular with this crowd, as it elevates their sense of prestige.

How clienteling can help you capitalize on your customers' buying motivations

Once you've figured out a customer's buying motivation... Then what? Clienteling is a natural next step to ensure you're making the most of the knowledge you have about your buyers. 

Clienteling is a technique used by sales associates in retail to keep track of key customers, identify their product preferences, and make personalized offers to build a long-term relationship and increase sales. 

For example, if you know a lot of your buyers are motivated by saving money, offering a discount on an item you know is similar to something they purchased the last time they were in your store is a great way to combine your knowledge about buying motivations and clienteling. 

The best part is, clienteling software like Clientbook makes the process even easier for your sales team.


Understanding consumer behavior is important as a retailer. If you're in the fashion industry, capitalizing on impulse sales is a great way to keep your conversion rates high. If you're a luxury jeweler, marketing to the aspirational buyers who want to elevate their lifestyle with an expensive purchase may be your best strategy. Or, if you own a furniture store, offering a deal on that high-dollar sectional may give your buyer a strong sense of financial security that seals the deal for them. 

Whatever your industry, tailoring your sales efforts and marketing message to match the buying motives of your shoppers is what will keep previous customers coming back and getting new ones in the door. If you're ready to utilize clienteling to make that happen, book a demo with Clientbook today to see how we can help.

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