Finding the Buy button
“When nature was limited to fit, we would go down to the cattle” (W. Shakespeare, “King Lear”).
In my previous article “Where is the Buy button”, I wrote that, based on the results of many experiments, we can confidently say that we do not control our brain and decision-making processes. All that remains for us is to interpret multiple signals in an illusory logical chain in order to reduce the pressure of fear of loss of control and power over the surrounding reality. Further, I tried to figure out what else affects our decision-making in terms of anthropology, biology, neurology and, of course, psychology. I do not pretend to be “the ultimate truth” in my research, but perhaps these facts will help many to look at the consumer from a different point of view, or make them change their minds, or understand themselves and their consumers more fully.
Many marketers are sure that consumers, even taking into account the influence of past experiences and memories, remain rational. Some of them do not know how or do not want to take into account the complexity of human nature, therefore the consumer behaves very simply for them in theory – they seek to maximize their profit in any situation.
However, psychology, anthropology, biology, neurology and other sciences believe that dozens of parameters determine the behavior of people, and not just the desire to save a couple of cents.
Thus, economist Daniel McFadden of the University of Berkeley, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize, believes that neoclassicists greatly simplify everything. In his opinion, in order to create a theory of consumer behavior, one needs to use the experience of other sciences – cognitive psychology, anthropology, market theory and neurology. McFadden himself focuses on consumer emotions and how they perceive reality.
In 1789, the English economist George Bentham suggested that the basis for economic behavior of people is the desire to get maximum pleasure and reduce suffering – these two aspirations drive people. Their main goal is happiness. The choice of consumers is based on this. This seemed to explain everything, but it was impossible to make forecasts based on the concept of “happiness”, which is very difficult to measure and calculate.
Partly the theory of J. Bentham is confirmed by modern brain research: people are guided by decision-making by their own feelings. Altruism explained these to Bentham – people need to feel kind and feel the good disposition of others.
Later, economists began to pay more attention not to the emotions that people experience from this or that activity, but to their consequences – people seemed to seek to maximize the positive effect of the economic act. Altruism was ultimately reduced only to relationships within a single family. Examples of such rational behavior were attempts to bring down the price of the market. Consumers, in their opinion, tried to achieve the utmost utility of all their expenses. As a result, the demand for products was actually equal to their marginal utility.
At the end of the 19th century, economists decided to separate utility from demand. They realized that besides usefulness there are other motives. True, they did not begin to explore emotions and sensations, and limited themselves only to preferences. As a result, altruism was ignored. The tastes, characteristics of the goods or the terms of the transaction were practically not taken into account.
In modern theory, new restrictions have been introduced, but the hypothesis remains the same: the consumer is trying to maximize utility within the framework of certain limitations of his budget.
It is known that initially, in the process of evolution, emotions and sensations arose as a link necessary for the formation of conditioned reflexes. Emotions and sensations necessarily contained an assessment, determined whether what was happening was good or bad. The addition of all emotions and sensations led to the formation of the final emotional state, as a final assessment of what is happening. The final emotional state determined the formation of the corresponding memory, which subsequently participated in the formation of behavior. Over time, the number of sensations available to us increased, while sensations arose, the contribution of which to the formation of the final emotional state was minimal. The evolutionary “benefit” of such sensations was no longer that they participated in the formation of conditioned reflexes, but that they helped to form a more complete picture of the “reflection” of the external world, which, accordingly, improved the ability to differentiate and recognize various phenomena.
At the same time, the society around us is constantly forming a “binding” of emotions to the “values” invented by this society and produces “virtual” values. But among the emotions and sensations there is not one specifically designed to make life “happier” or “more comfortable.”
At the same time, manufacturers and marketers are constantly inventing “something” that we may need additionally, which will cause us positive emotions, since a person needs not only bread, but also spectacles.