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Purchase drivers: what they are and how to use them

Understanding what drives purchases will help you increase sales and improve your strategy. Our tools can help.

The challenge for many businesses is how to present their product or service in a way that outshines the competition. Understanding customer needs is a strategic way to get them to buy what you're selling. 

Knowing what influences consumers to buy a certain product or service empowers you to align your marketing goals with their purchasing habits. Tracking these purchase drivers is a marketing technique every marketer should use to increase sales.

A purchase driver is a key performance indicator (KPI) used to understand consumer purchasing and usage priorities in any category that's typically not tied to a specific brand. 

This type of KPI is based on purchase behavior more than how the product or service meets customer needs. While a product's or service's attributes may have played a role in the beginning stages of a consumer's buying preference, habitual buying influences usually take over. Those influences could be related to convenience, familiarity, value, education, and even what the brand stands for concerning its mission and vision statement. 

A purchase driver is part of the consumer decision-making process before the actual purchase takes place. And it usually happens once the consumer has come to terms with the need for the product or service, the information that comes with it, and other alternatives. A purchase driver also reflects why consumers inherently buy the same brand or service.

Understanding customer needs and knowing what drives consumers to purchase allows for a tailored marketing strategy. And brands that promote repetitive purchasing are a step ahead. Learning what drives a consumer to make a purchase decision and using that information to market to them can ultimately turn them into a loyal customer. 

Loyal customers can help your business grow because they'll likely share their buying experience with friends and family. This type of loyal customer is also known as an influencer. An influencer is a customer who markets your business based on their customer experience. Get a better understanding of what drives your customers to buy into your business

Purchase drivers are important because they help refine brand positioning, drive sales, and acquire new customers. Let's take a deeper look at how these benefits work. 

Brand positioning is what allows brands to distinguish themselves from competitors. You can use Brand Tracker, powered by SurveyMonkey, to spot trends and monitor key metrics in real-time to determine your brand's health in the marketplace. You'll also be able to monitor competitor brands and even benchmark how they perceive you, giving you a competitive advantage.

TIP: Learn more about brand positioning and use brand monitoring in your market research. 

Brand values and associations also influence brand positioning. What inspired you to build your company and who you're partnering with to achieve these goals can significantly impact your brand's success. This is because brand values and brand association inform part of brand positioning. It's important to recognize that these principles are important to consumers. 

And when you understand what's important to consumers, you'll tap into what aspects influence them to choose one brand over another, giving you the insight to create a refined brand positioning.

The more you understand consumer needs, the better marketer you can become. Knowledge of consumer buying habits and preferences can enable you to align your marketing strategies to meet their specific needs. Some consumer needs you'll want to know are their price preference, the convenience of the product or service, durability, effectiveness, formulation, and status. 

Packaging also makes a difference to consumers. Deeper understanding of consumer wants and needs can assist with product ideation to better develop a product to match. But it's also important to understand that most buyer preferences can be influenced by a variety of expectations along with social norms. 

Often, people can't explicitly explain why they like something—they know they do and make an instant decision with their subconscious to make a certain purchase. When you understand what drives consumers, you can better attract them and increase your sales and attract people who subscribe to other aspects of your brand. 

For example, endorsements, sponsorships, vendors, charitable affiliations, and partnerships can be used as an attribute of purchase drivers. Learn what attribute types drive your target market

Some of the most common purchase drivers that help in identifying customer needs are engagement, convenience, fulfillment, options, price, and trust. Let’s take a closer look at how these purchase drivers work to influence purchasing decisions.

You can also uncover your customer value drivers using surveys powered by SurveyMonkey.

This approach helps customers solve a pain point or get a job done. Aligning your product to fulfill a consumer's specific need influences them to make an instant buying decision without much thought. McDonald's milkshake may be an unconventional choice for a breakfast item, but it’s an easy, unmessy on-the-go item that's great for morning commutes. And it sold for them. 

Anytime you can undercut the competition in price while maintaining profitable margins, you will most likely always meet the fulfillment of affordability. When Subway launched its $5-foot-long campaign, some restaurants followed suit, like Little Caesars' Hot-N-Ready $5 pizzas. 

Convenience can mean many things:

  • What a consumer wants
  • Where they want it from
  • How they want it delivered
  • How they plan to pay

Subway met the need for convenience. In addition to their stand-alone brick-and-mortar stores, you can find Subway in gas stations and storefronts. Starbucks also makes its product convenient to purchase outside its stand-alone franchise. Their coffee is made available for in-store purchase while partnering with Target, Barnes & Noble Bookstore, and hotels. 

Consumers appreciate being entertained along the way. Remember, marketing aims to connect with consumers and keep their attention. Any type of entertainment can be implemented into a marketing plan to spark engagement. For instance, insightful product information, brand knowledge, social media content, in-store customer service, online chat-bots, or multimedia demonstration can increase and retain consumer engagement. 

As long as you have consumers' attention, you have a chance of turning them into a customer. If you're using the right purchase drivers, you also have the possibility of them becoming a repeat customer. To increase engagement, Netflix focuses on personalizing each user's experience by recommending a watch list based on the movies and shows they've previously viewed. Spotify does the same with its list of music and podcasts. 

Consumers also appreciate having options. The more opportunities you can provide to shoppers, the better chance you have of landing a sale. However, providing too many choices can result in an overload of information, causing consumers to seek out a simpler display of options. 

For example, in e-commerce, it's best to provide shoppers with the most popular shipping and payment options, so you aren't overpopulating the checkout page with unnecessary text and images. But when it comes to product features, the more pictures you display give consumers a better understanding of what they'll get.  

Trust is vital to consumers, particularly as more shoppers turn to reviews online for products and services. Consumers have so many options to choose from that a simple customer review or testimonial can make all the difference. Allowing consumers to read customer and product feedback on your website displays transparency that helps establish trust and can influence consumers to make a purchase.

The cost of products and the experience of buying them can collectively impact consumers' attention. Your price point matters. And to maintain trust with consumers, you should avoid pricing your products or services too low because that might cause shoppers to question the quality of what you're selling. Learn how to set the right price for your products using the Gabor-Granger and Van Westendorp pricing methods. You can also price your goods and services too high and lose out to a competitor that's priced more affordably. 

These purchase drivers play a part in your marketing strategy, but you should conduct a key driver analysis to determine which ones are the main KPI. Learn which purchase drivers to focus on to drive performance. 

Learn what consumers want so you can market your product or service to them in a strategic way that produces results. Use Consumer Segmentation powered by SurveyMonkey to learn about consumer preferences to optimize your next marketing campaign. 

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