How Psychology and Marketing Make the Perfect Pair

How Psychology and Marketing Make the Perfect Pair


We love exploring all avenues of marketing and continued education. Let’s hear from our very own Suzanne to explore the link between psychology and marketing and showcase how they really are the perfect pairing. 

After completing my Psychology BSc Degree, which I loved, I transitioned into a career in marketing and have been able to apply my learnings on a daily basis.

Occasionally people are surprised by me having studied psychology. But those who are surprised, don’t REALLY understand the foundations of marketing – or perhaps they aren’t aware of how psychology is intrinsically linked to our everyday lives and behaviour. 

So what do psychology and marketing have in common to make them the ‘perfect pair’? 

The Common Theme 

Underlying both psychology and marketing is human behaviour. 

Psychology is the study of human behaviour, and marketing is about understanding human behaviour to create a brand/strategy that will captivate your target audience and mean they choose to spend their time or money with you.

Without understanding how individuals other than yourself think and behave and their motives, there is a limited chance you will achieve a successful marketing strategy for your brand. 

Only when you truly get into the minds of your target audience can you then evolve your tone of voice, campaign ideas, customer journey and much more to target them. 

Let’s see this playout. 

Principles of psychology in marketing 

Here are just some of the principles of psychology to make your marketing more persuasive and effective. You may be surprised at how many you recognise.

Let’s explore these in a little more detail.

1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Anyone who has studied or who is interested in psychology has heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 

This theory provides a way of evaluating your customers’ motivations, tying perfectly into your customer personas. It explains that motivations fall within one of the five levels in the hierarchy and according to Maslow, the needs of the previous level have to be fulfilled in order for you to move up the levels; otherwise, this will cause discomfort.  

Where do your customer’s motivations come from, what level are they at? Is it physiological needs which we need to survive, or is it a luxury item which builds their esteem? 

How Psychology and Marketing Make the Perfect Pair

Once you understand their motivation and apply this to your customer personas, you can then create emotionally compelling marketing campaigns that appeal to the specific needs of your customers – whether that be esteem, love and fulfilment or simply the need to survive.

2. Mere exposure effect

This is a simple yet powerful principle. The Mere Exposure Effect is the principle that the more that individuals are exposed to something, the more they will develop a preference for it, simply because it is more familiar.

How Psychology and Marketing Make the Perfect Pair

This is why marketers shout about the importance of consistency and why brands such as Coca-Cola are so popular because they have the budgets to spend on large billboards and television commercials. Coca-Cola continues to do this year after year, even with their huge success. This principle also explains why we choose household names rather than independent brands. 

Whilst it is a cognitive bias (not based on logic), familiarity builds trust. The more exposure to your brand, the more familiar your audience becomes with it, and the more familiar they become with it, the more they will trust, engage with, and prefer it over competitors. 

3. Social Proof

If we mention ‘reviews’, you will understand this straight away. Social proof is the tendency for people to follow the actions of others. Marketers can use social proof by showing reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers or by displaying images of people using their products.

4. Scarcity 

‘Quick! Get it before it’s gone’

Scarcity is the principle that people are more likely to want something if it is scarce – they don’t want to miss out. Marketers can use scarcity by offering limited-time discounts or creating a sense of urgency. Don’t be fooled when you see supermarkets and TV ads saying there is ‘limited stock’ – I have now warned you. 

5. Commitment bias 

Following the commitment bias principle, we are likely to act in line with our previous behaviours and expressions. 

This can be used to a marketer’s advantage by asking for small requests, which can lead to bigger ones. Once we comply with a small request, we are more likely to comply with larger ones. 

This is where teasers come into marketing. For example, you may get a free sample of a product (think audiobooks) or a snippet of what a service could offer (free audit). Following this, the customer is more likely to buy the product or service to act consistently with previous behaviours. 

The commitment bais also works in the sense of feeling that you have invested so much time or money into something you are likely to commit fully to it.  

How Psychology and Marketing Make the Perfect Pair

For example, if you are trying to get a customer to complete a form or application, if you show ‘60% complete’, they are more likely to finish it, as they can see how much commitment they have already made.

7. Halo Effect

This principle is something that has been known to marketers for some time, but more recently has become more apparent in digital marketing strategies. 

The halo effect is when your positive or negative impression of a person, country, company or product positively or negatively influences one’s feelings in another area. 

For example, influencer marketing. We all see the celebrities and influencers we follow on social media promote brands and products that they ‘love’. Since we have a positive impression of these influencers and highly regard them, the halo effect outlines that we will also naturally share the same impression as them of the product they are promoting. 

Colour Psychology

During my degree, I studied the ‘Psychology of Advertising’ module, demonstrating the influence of colours, placement of text on a page, and much more. 

How Psychology and Marketing Make the Perfect Pair

When relating to colour psychology, it suggests that colours make people feel a certain way and have different meanings. 

For example, colours such as red, orange and yellow evoke feelings of warmth and comfort, as well as anger and hostility.

This understanding is very important when creating your brand and how it reflects your company’s ethos and values. This then trickles down to your collateral and advertisements.

How many principles were you familiar with?

There are, of course, many more principles which influence human behaviour and, therefore, can be applied to marketing principles. This is just a little teaser. 

I really believe that education is a blessing in itself, and if you can understand the principles above and implement them in your marketing, it will be sure to make a difference. Everyone should understand the fundamentals of human behaviour and psychology; it will make us all better marketers! 

So when people question why I went from psychology to marketing, I can confidently say – it has built the foundations of successful marketing strategies and campaigns. 

It’s simple!

corporate social responsibility ideas

Written by Suzanne Walter

Senior Marketing Manager

Suzanne is our Senior Marketing Managers who works closely with clients to help realise their business goals and ambitions with a strategic marketing approach. Integrating herself into the client’s businesses, she works from start to finish to ensure the marketing strategy and plans are delivered successfully and effectively.

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