Core human drivers: what are your customers really buying?

When it comes to planning a really powerful marketing campaign, one of the cornerstones is access to useful customer insight. This is typically provided in the form of demographic-fuelled customer personas. However, identifying who your customers are is only one piece of the picture. To create a compelling offer and responsive marketing campaign you need to understand your customers’ decision-making processes. This may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are five core human drivers that influence customer purchasing behaviour. Which of the core human drivers does your offer connect with?

Core human driver 1: The drive to acquire

The drive to acquire is the need to possess material items such as cars or consumer electronics, or immaterial things such as power or influence. While the drive to acquire takes various forms within different consumer groups, it is usually linked to influence, power or perception.
Example application: car retailers, fashion retailers, games industries.

Core human driver 2: The drive to bond

We are social and our drive to bond satisfies the desire to feel like a valued participant in a relationship. The drive to bond has a myriad of layers, from bonding in intimate one-to-one relationships, to feeling valued as part of a community.
Example application: dating websites, interest or hobby groups

Core human driver 3: The drive to learn

Humans are inquisitive by nature and the drive to learn satisfies our in-built curiosity through the acquisition of knowledge or understanding on specific subjects.
Example application: Online learning platforms, university degrees, private schools

Core human driver 4: The drive to defend

Everyone has an in-built instinct to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property. The drive to defend is the need to safeguard the people and the things we value and hold close. In some cases, this driver is not just about the value of the thing we are protecting, but the need to protect what is rightfully yours as a matter of principle.
Example application: home security, insurance, martial arts, weaponry

Core human driver 5: The drive to feel

In the modern world, the drive to feel has never been more relevant. Consumers in the developed world desire new sensory stimuli and emotional experiences. Whether it’s the excitement of a race car experience, or anticipation of the release of a new movie, the desire to feel can be a powerful driver.
Example application: Music events, cinema, experience days

By understanding the 5 core human drivers you can evaluate your offer against each of the drivers to understand what your customers are really buying. If your offer doesn't connect with your customer via any of these drivers, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If your campaign connects with your customer on one or more, you have the making of a responsive campaign.

If you are interested in learning more about core human drivers, The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman covers the topic in greater detail.

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Daniel Lewis
About Daniel Lewis

With his creative thinking and eye for design, Dan is the perfect person to help you develop your creative strategies and analyses your business’ objectives. He loves creative problem-solving as well as thinking about how to make campaigns interesting and effective.

@DanielSLewis
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