Consumer Effort And The Purchase Decision

It is a basic tenet of behavioral psychology that people engage in behavior that takes the least effort and provide the highest payoff. If someone see's a product as being very valuable but the effort to purchase that product is large it will decrease the value of the product and they will probably not engage in the behavior required to acquire the product.

In Keynote's recent publication concerning the online retail industry, they cite several factors that lead to diminished customer experience during online retail consumption. Diminished customer experience can be translated as "acquiring this product or service takes to much requires to much effort to acquire the product or service's perceived benefit".

25% of consumers cited having to register in order to make a purchase as their number one frustration. 37% cited research oriented reasons as being highly frustrating and diminishing their consumer experience.

Realizing that online consumers are motivated by either a goal achievement orientation or an experiential orientation and these are supported by a functionality variable we can see that registering in order to purchase a product or service impedes the experiential motivation and inability to obtain consumer information about a product or service impedes the goal achievement motivation.

So, considering the online consumption experience from a behavioral psychological viewpoint, consumers will be less loyal to websites in which their experience is not positive, and their efforts to obtain information are not conveniently rewarded.

Online interactivity needs to be pleasurable, and information should be provided in an up front, easily acquirable manner. This means examining your purchasing process, your information gathering mechanisms, and your search and information acquisition mechanism in such a manner as to render them client center, pleasurable, and functional.

Remember, online consumers will be more likely to engage in a purchase process if the perceived benefit of the product or service outweighs the perceived effort to acquire that product or service.

copyright 2004

Darrin F. Coe, MA holds a master's degree in psychology and operates "The Center for Understanding Consumer Thinking" at

His latest information product "The Internet Consumer Exposed" is available at contact him at

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