Understanding Consumer Behavior: How Psychology Shapes Effective Marketing Strategies

By Ainsley Lawrence

Consumers don’t just respond to marketing materials in fully conscious ways. The design and use of your content can also have a psychological impact that helps to influence behavior. While it’s important not to take a manipulative approach to this, having this knowledge empowers you to make decisions about marketing strategies that boost emotional engagement.

Why is this important? Well, there’s a clear throughline between emotional connection and customer conversion. One study found that 70% of people who were likely to buy a product were emotionally triggered by its advertising. As a result, taking a little extra time to incorporate psychological principles into your marketing may well help develop connections that convert.

Visual Stimulation

Enticing visuals have a significant psychological impact on audiences. They’re often the most immediate way to stimulate consumers’ senses and people process visual information faster than text. This makes your use of visuals a vital part of your strategy in the age of social media scrolling, where you don’t have a lot of time to grab audiences.


When choosing visuals for your marketing, color psychology is a great tool. This revolves around the idea that different colors provoke emotions and behaviors in people. For instance, red can create a sense of urgency, which can encourage action. On the other hand, greens can evoke nature, which provides positive associations with genuine sustainability. Careful color usage can contribute to the psychological impact you want to make on audiences.


Your choice of images in your marketing has the potential to influence their associations with your brand. Simple diagrams can give a greater sense of comprehension and clarity on a topic. For instance, products posed in photographs taken from a low angle can produce a “heroic” type image, suggesting strength or superior quality. Being intentional about the types of images you use, rather than just relying on stock items, can give you greater control over how your brand is perceived.

The Liking Principle

When it comes to forming connections that encourage conversion, leveraging the “liking principle” is useful. Essentially, this is the idea that for consumers to engage meaningfully with a brand, they actually have to genuinely like it first. Sure, there is a hierarchy of needs that affects consumer conversion behavior. But, where there is choice involved, the liking principle tells us that consumers respond more favorably to people they like and want to be like.

This isn’t about sycophantically pandering to your audience, though. Rather there are tactics you can use in your marketing that help emphasize the attributes that suggest likeability. These include:

  • Attractiveness: Audiences tend to associate likeability with being attractive. Therefore, your materials must reflect this. Websites should be clear and dynamic. Brand logos should be legible and engaging.
  • Values: Another point of likeability is the tendency to trust those who are like us. From a marketing perspective, you can emphasize the values that your brand and your target demographic share. This could highlight your sustainability efforts or showcase the integrity of your workforce in behind-the-scenes content.

It’s also good to remember not to behave in ways that aren’t in the psychological interests of your audience. For instance, there’s a lot of attention at the moment on how social media affects users’ mental wellness. Consuming content that is inappropriate, presents unrealistic beauty standards through highly edited images, or is dishonest is among the ways that social media can have a negative psychological impact. Audiences may be less likely to convert if they feel your media is problematic or potentially harmful.

It’s far better to ensure your brand’s social media presence emphasizes the potential positive mental health influence. This could include encouraging community engagement and sharing user-generated content, such as your followers’ artwork. These behaviors can not just help forge stronger connections with your brand but also demonstrate that your company cares about the well-being of its audience.

Aligning Insights and Projects

It’s important not to simply tack these psychological elements onto your marketing campaigns. This can limit their impact. Rather, the best approach is to ensure that the psychological insights you leverage and the projects they’re used for are well aligned with the strategic goals of the organization. When projects are misaligned with the organization’s vision, it tends to mean you waste time and capital focusing on actions that aren’t effective for moving the company forward.

It’s wise to ensure your marketing team gets clarity on what the goals are for the brand and also how other projects are contributing to these. From here, you can identify the psychological marketing strategies that are most relevant for achieving these. It’s also vital to measure the success of the psychological marketing efforts regularly to ensure they’re still consistent with the brand and contributing to the overall success of the business.


Marketing strategies that use psychological principles can produce powerful results for your brand. Remember, though, that different audiences will have nuanced cognitive and emotional reactions to marketing materials. It’s important to get insights into what psychologically resonates with your specific target audience through customer experience surveys and market analytics. This isn’t just good for informing your decision-making. It can also empower you to make more meaningful connections with your audience that influence long-term loyalty.

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