I’ve had some interesting discussions about a recent post I did about the “Core Motivation of Consumer Behavior” that generally on the topic of the source of that motivation. I’m not sure that this shapes up into a single topic, more of a meandering about related topics – so what follows may be a bit disjointed. That said, here goes:
I previously mentioned that all consumer behavior is the result of irritation with the status quo: either the customer seeks to defend the status quo against a threat that has arisen or the customer seeks to improve his status quo because he has become dissatisfied with things as they are. The nature and degree of this irritation must be assessed to decide whether a given product (good or service) is likely to have the desired impact and whether the cost of the product (price and effort) is less than the cost of taking no action. This remains true, and is a very basic concept.
The first dilemma is that irritation is entirely subjective: a condition that one person finds irritating may be entirely innocuous to another. Some people are particularly sensitive to some stimuli.
The second dilemma is that the evaluation of benefit is also subjective: how much it is worth to an individual to achieve a certain goal is difficult to quantify, particularly where the emotional costs are unknown.
A third dilemma is that the evaluation of cost is subjective: while the money-cost of something is mostly objective (though it is subjectively evaluated by the individual’s budget) the effort-cost of acquisition and use is entirely subjective.
A fourth dilemma is the variance in the assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of a solution: until the solution has been purchased and implemented it is not known whether it will be at all effective in solving the problem, so in advance we can only speak about the degree to which a prospect believes a solution will be effective, which is also subjective.
A fifth dilemma is the lack of information about the universe of a given customer’s need: people have more than one problem, and the value of solving a problem is assessed in the context of their entire portfolio of concerns, hence the same problem may be prioritized differently by each customer.
All of these dilemmas make it difficult to assess the motivation of customers, both individually or in aggregate. And this may be the reason that many seem to simply want to ignore core motivation and begin at the point where the customer has committed to purchasing and has decided on the cost he is willing to undertake. To do so is to act without knowledge, hoping for the best. And this is not a very good approach.