Advertising is one of the most important aspects of our culture. It’s what gets us to buy products and services, and it shapes how we think about ourselves and others. And it works on a lot of different levels—from individual decisions to global issues. In this guide, we’ll explore the psychology behind advertising, and see how it affects everything from your wallet to your heart.

What Is Marketing Psychology?

In order to sway consumers’ purchasing decisions, marketing psychology, also known as “Neuromarketing,” applies neuropsychology to content, marketing, and sales.

Researchers have been examining how consumers’ cognitive reactions to marketing for many years. In fact, it is now widely accepted that people react to marketing in sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective ways. Marketing professionals can find more potential customers, develop more successful product launches, and create more efficient and effective traditional and digital marketing strategies and campaigns by understanding these responses.

Or, to put it another way, you can improve your marketing if you understand why and how people act and think the way they do.

Additionally, a deeper comprehension of human cognition and behavior aids designers and marketers in building stronger brand identities for businesses.

Psychology And Marketing: 10 Important Principles Of Psychology You Should Use

Psychology of Marketing: 10 Principles Revealing Human Behavior

1) Priming 

Have you ever participated in the game where one person says something and the other responds right away with the first thought that pops into their head?

In a way, that is how priming functions. One stimulus that you are exposed to has an impact on how you react to a subsequent stimulus. According to Psychology Today, two groups of individuals read the word “yellow” followed by either “sky” or “banana.” People have a semantic association between the fruit’s color and its appearance, so people in the “yellow-banana” group will identify the word “banana” more quickly than people in the “yellow-sky” group will identify the word “sky.”

How does this relate to marketing? Lots. You could aid website visitors in remembering important facts about your company by using subtle priming techniques, which may even have an impact on their purchasing decisions.

It has already been tested. In a study by Naomi Mandel and Eric J. Johnson, researchers played with a website’s background design to see if it would influence users’ decisions about which products to buy. Participants had to pick between two products from the same category (like a Toyota vs. a Lexus). in line with Psychology Today “Visitors who were primed on money (the website background was green with pennies on it) spent more time looking at price information than visitors who were primed on safety, they discovered. Consumers who had been primed on comfort spent more time looking at comfort-related information than those who had been primed on money.”

Therefore, pay attention to the little things if you’re trying to use priming in your marketing. They might make the difference between someone purchasing your most expensive product and leaving your page.

2) Reciprocity 

The idea of “reciprocity” is straightforward and was first introduced in Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. If someone does something for you, you will inevitably want to return the favor.

You have experienced reciprocity if you have ever received a mint along with your restaurant bill. Cialdini asserts that when diners receive their checks without a mint, they will tip in accordance with how they feel the service was received. One mint increases the tip by 3.3%. two mints The tip increases dramatically to about 20%.

There are numerous ways to use reciprocity in your marketing. Giving something away doesn’t have to cost a fortune; it can be anything from a branded sweatshirt to an exclusive ebook to a cost-free desktop wallpaper to your knowledge of a challenging subject. Establishing reciprocity can be accomplished with even something as straightforward as a handwritten note. Prior to requesting something in exchange, make sure you are giving the free thing.

Psychology of Marketing: 10 Principles Revealing Human Behavior

3) Social Proof 

This idea is already well-known to most marketers, but it was too significant to omit from this list. If you’re not familiar with the concept, social proof is the idea that individuals will adopt the values or behaviors of a group they like or trust. It’s the “me too” effect, to put it another way. Think of it as a tense middle school dance where nobody wants to be the first to hit the floor, but as soon as a few people do, everyone wants to join in. (Remember that as you get older and less self-conscious about your dancing, this desire to fit in doesn’t go away.)

On your blog, you can utilize social proof in a simple way. Use social sharing and follow buttons that show the number of followers you have on social media or the number of shares a piece of content has, if you haven’t already. People who later come across your post will be much more likely to share it if those figures are prominently displayed and you already have a few people sharing it.

4) Decoy Effect

This effect is frequently observed in pricing models, where one price point is purposefully included to persuade you to select the most expensive option.

Dan Airley discusses an advertisement from The Economist outlining their most recent subscription packages in his well-known TED talk, “Are we in control of our own decisions? They provided the following:

  • Online access fee: $59
  • $125 for a print subscription
  • Subscription for online and print: $125

Imaginary, huh? Both the print-only and the print-and-online subscriptions are available for the same cost. They offer that, but why?

Airley also had that thought. He contacted the staff at The Economist, but he never received a direct response.

So he made the decision to conduct his own research with 100 MIT students. He presented them with the various price packages and enquired as to which they would prefer to purchase. When presented with all three options, students opted for the combo subscription because it offered the best value, right? The students, however, favored the least expensive option after he removed the $125.00 “useless” option (the print subscription).

It turns out that the middle option wasn’t entirely useless after all; by providing students with a benchmark for the “goodness” of the combo deal, it encouraged them to pay more for it.

Therefore, you might want to add a third option to a landing page with two options if you want to increase conversions. It might increase the conversion rate for the final option you want people to choose.

Psychology of Marketing: 10 Principles Revealing Human Behavior

5) Scarcity 

Have you ever purchased airline tickets and noticed the phrase “Only 3 seats left at this price!” Yes, that is a lack (another Cialdini concept). This psychological tenet stems from the basic law of supply and demand: The more uncommon the opportunity, content, or good, the higher its value.

A 1975 study by Worchel, Lee, and Adewole examined how people’s perceptions were impacted by scarcity. To begin the study, participants were asked to rank chocolate chip cookies. My coworker Lanya Olmstead wrote an article that describes the experiment “In one jar, [the researchers] placed 10 cookies, and in another, two of the same cookies. Despite the fact that the cookies in both jars were identical, the two-cookie jar received ratings that were twice as high as the 10-cookie jar.”

However, you must be careful with your wording if you want to apply this principle correctly. People will be very receptive if you approach the scarcity concept as if there used to be a ton of a product or service, but due to popular demand there are only a few left. The idea won’t work as well, however, if you approach it from the perspective that there aren’t many products in total and you should buy it right away. To learn more about the significance of that distinction, read this post by Nir and Far.

6) Anchoring

Ever questioned why it’s so difficult to pass up a sale at your preferred clothing retailer?

People frequently make decisions based on the first piece of information they are given, which is referred to as anchoring. I’ll be thrilled if I find jeans at my favorite store that usually sell for $50 on sale for $35. I’ll think, “I just got a crazy deal on these jeans.” I might even purchase them. But my friend won’t be nearly as impressed if she usually buys $20 jeans.

Knowing about anchoring is crucial for marketers, especially if you ever run a promotion. The anchor should be set by clearly stating the product’s original price and then showing the sale price next to it. You could even mention the percentage off that your customers will receive when they make a purchase.

7) The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Ever seen a product everywhere you turn after hearing about it? The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon deserves praise. When you first come across something, it starts to happen, and then you start to notice it popping up in regular life. All of a sudden, the product is advertised on TV all the time. And you just so happen to walk down the aisle of the grocery store and see it. And every single one of your friends has the item.

I know, it’s strange. Here’s why this new thing is suddenly appearing everywhere.

This phenomenon, also known as “the frequency illusion,” is said by PS Mag to be brought on by two processes. “A new word, object, or idea triggers the first type of attention, selective attention, which causes you to unconsciously keep an eye out for it and, as a result, find it surprisingly frequently. Confirmation bias, the second process, reassures you that each sighting is additional evidence that the thing has suddenly become omnipresent.”

This phenomenon is the reason nurturing is so crucial for marketers. You should make yourself “everywhere” once someone starts to notice your brand (i.e., starts browsing your website). You could improve their chances of converting by sending them personalized nurturing emails and retargeting ads based on their behavior.

Psychology of Marketing: 10 Principles Revealing Human Behavior

8) Verbatim Effect

A study by Poppenk, Joanisse, Danckert, and Köhler found that people are more likely to recall the general idea of something rather than the specifics. Consequently, when you attend a seminar on how to blog for your business, you’ll probably remember specifics like “Have someone else review your work, not “Send a Google Doc to a peer three business days in advance so they can review your work.” Use Track Changes to keep track of the changes you missed.”

The “verbatim effect” is what they called it. And it may have a significant impact on how well your content does.

First off, less and less time is being spent online reading actual content. More than half of your visitors will only stay on your site for less than 15 seconds, according to data from Chartbeat. What should a marketer do if people aren’t reading your content and aren’t likely to remember specific details?

I’d advise devoting even more time to crafting the perfect headline than you already are. It should accurately summarize what is in your article and be both search- and sharing-friendly. In this way, people will remember that one helpful article they read a while ago and Google the topic to find it again when they need more information on a specific subject. If you put in the effort, you ought to show up in the search results. 

9) Clustering

People only have so much room in their short-term memory. In actuality, the average person can only recall seven pieces of information at once, plus or minus two in any given circumstance.

Most people group information that is similar together in order to cope. For instance, most people would tend to mentally group items into specific categories (dairy, grain, meat, etc.) if they had a long grocery list of arbitrary items so they could better remember what was on it.

Consequently, keep clustering in mind as you create content. How can you structure your content so that more of it is retained in the mind? One way to do this is to group related topics together, either using different header sizes or numbered bullet points. Your writing will be much simpler to remember and recall in the future, making it especially helpful if you’re producing lengthy lists of content.

10) Loss Aversion 

When someone has something, they really don’t like to lose it, which is essentially what loss aversion means.

Participants in Daniel Kahneman’s study of this idea received either mugs, chocolate, or nothing at all. They were then given two options when asked to make a decision: if they had been given an object, they could trade it for another object, or if they had received nothing, they could choose between the two options. The outcome? About half of the participants who began with no items chose mugs, but 86% of those who were initially given mugs remained loyal to that item.

The lesson of the tale? People dislike losing what they’ve already accomplished.

Although this might provide some shaky opportunities for some types of marketers, loss aversion may play a big role in the rise of freemium products and higher rates of product adoption. For instance, you could temporarily ungate a feature from the paid version of your product. If you don’t upgrade to become a paying customer before that time period expires, that feature might be removed. Loss aversion is a crucial concept for every marketer to understand, though you must be careful how you exploit this psychological need.


Advertising can have a wide range of effects on people, both inside and outside of the social media world. By understanding how advertising works and how it affects us, we can better understand why it’s so important to support its operations. Additionally, by considering how ads play a role in your life (both online and offline), you can better understand the psychological impact that advertising has on you. In short, advertising is an extremely powerful tool that should be used with caution, but with careful study it can beweaponized for good.

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