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The 5 W’s of Purchase Behavior

Posted By Bryan Eisenberg On June 28, 2007 @ 5:37 am In Buying Process,Uncovery | 5 Comments

journalist [1]In expanding the question about relational-transactional purchasing [2] by asking the question of WHAT makes people buy [3], a fellow deep thinker [4] from the Wizard Academy [5] shared that we should also add in the essential “reporter” questions:

I’d lump them into four categories: Who … Why … What … When-Where-How. Who, Why & What are big driving issues, while you can lump the other three (When, Where, How) together as the sort of mechanics of purchasing.

WHO we are (or think we are and desire to be) deeply influences WHAT we buy. Our “tribes” and “identities” are wrapped in and around our buying impulses. The other aspect of WHO is Who influences us. We care more about the opinions of people we know than we do from some ad. From the list, this might include: Prestige or Aspirational purchase – Name Recognition – Fad or Innovation – Niche Identity – Peer Pressure – Ego Stroking -
WHY we buy … this is the emotional stuff, Maslow’s pyramid, our inner individual needs that drive us. The list of intensely emotional triggers include: Emotional Vacuum – Scarcity – The “Girl Scout Cookie Effect” – Fear – Reciprocity or Guilt – Empathy – Addiction – Indulgence -
WHAT we buy … Buying a new car is a different experience than buying groceries. A car is a big purchase that in many ways is an extension of our identity. A redneck kid from West Texas will be drooling over a 4-wheel drive 3/4 ton pickup truck while the 30 year-old career girl in California is thinking her car not only has to match her “style,” it has to be green.

1. Basic Needs (food, staples, repairs, etc.)
2. Lifestyle items (beer, eating out, clothing… anything you buy that’s an extension of you and your lifestyle)
3. Luxury purchase (Rolex, big screen TV, vacation travel, etc.)
4. Major purchase (house, car, long-term health care, big investments)
5. Crisis needs (medical emergency, disaster, addictions)


When we buy … Is it an impulse buy? Is it a recurring purchase.  Is it a major purchase like a house or car that is really a buying event that only happens a few times in a persons life? Young people have different needs (and buying power) than old farts (like me).

Where we buy … This has changed with the internet. We go window shopping online and quite often just click and get it. UPS and FedEx are as vital to online shopping as Amazon.

How we buy … Credit cards have turned us into a retail junky nation. Virtually anyone can get a card and spend their life savings drinking lattes from Starbucks.

W-W-H buying factors include: Convenience – Replacement – Lower Price – Great Value – Compulsory Purchase – Event – Holiday – The big When-Where-How companies are Wal-Mart and McDonalds.

All of these come into play in our buying. The question for marketers is where do they fit? Where can you leverage this in your marketing?

Article printed from Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow: http://www.grokdotcom.com

URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/06/28/the-5-ws-of-purchase-behavior/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/Bryan/34607811.jpg

[2] relational-transactional purchasing: http://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/?ShowMe=ThisMemo&MemoID=1437

[3] WHAT makes people buy: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/06/25/what-makes-people-buy/

[4] deep thinker: http://www.businesspundit.com/50226711/deep_thinkers_need_not_apply_how_to_get_ahead_in_the_modern_business_world.php

[5] Wizard Academy: https://wizardacademy.org/scripts/default.asp

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