The remarkable factors that influence shoppers

Published: 8 December 2016 at 11:23

Cover of The Routledge International Handbook of Consumer Psychology

New book edited by Anglia Ruskin academics looks at psychology of consumer behaviour

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A new book shows how factors such as the feel of a product and the attractiveness of models can influence how we shop.

The Routledge International Handbook of Consumer Psychology is edited by Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd and Dr Magdalena Zawisza of Anglia Ruskin University. The pair have worked with over 70 academics across four continents to ensure the book reflects the cross-cultural character of current consumer behaviour.

The book explains how shops persuade people to touch products as this encourages shoppers to believe the item ‘psychologically’ belongs to them.  This psychological ownership also means they are less likely to question the price.

Producers also spend huge amounts of money to find ways of making their packaging more tactile.  Different textures can alter how attractive a product is perceived to be, which directly affects its value.  Items such as Andrex toilet rolls and Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue perfume are examples of how packaging has been changed to feel more ‘pleasurable’.

Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, Reader in Consumer Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, explained:

“The value of products can be affected by simple aspects such as whether consumers are allowed to touch them or by changing the way that something feels. 

“Different textures have the capacity to alter the attractiveness of a product and by increasing attractiveness, the value of a product also goes up.  Interestingly, simply just touching products such as underwear can change the economic decisions that consumers make.”

The book also explains how idealised advertising content can actually backfire.  Researchers have found that unachievably-beautiful models do not necessarily increase purchasing intent as many consumers find them threatening.

Co- editor Dr Magdalena Zawisza, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“Threats to consumers in the marketplace come in various forms, with unachievable body images being only one example.

“Technology anxiety or risk aversion also trigger a threat in some consumers and require a very different advertising approach – one which focuses on alleviating the anxieties instead of triggering them.

“In extreme cases mismanagement of advertising content can lead to a backlash for the product, as seen with the ‘Are you beach body ready?’ campaign.”

The book offers an overview of these and many other areas of consumer life including: cognition, perception and implicit processes; social and cultural influences; consumer lifespan; decision-making and persuasion processes; overview of research on products, brands and sustainability issues; and the role of the internet and electronic media.