Consumer Mindsets Matter: Understanding The Why Behind The Buy

The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.

It’s no secret that Amazon has turned the traditional brick-and-mortar business model on its head. With its lightning-fast delivery options, endless inventory, and network of sellers, Amazon has reset consumer expectations and introduced an entirely new and competitive retail landscape.

How did the ecommerce giant build its empire so quickly? By tapping into what motivates people to purchase. The consumer mindset has shifted: People are no longer buying products based solely on price and quality. They instead care about convenience, comfort, ethics, and sustainability.

While Amazon excels at providing an exceptional buying experience, it has a lot of work to do in terms of ethics and values. People want to support brands that reflect what they’re passionate about. According to 5W Public Relations,  71% of consumers prefer to buy products from brands that share their values. Consumers no longer own “things” as status symbols; they attach status to social belonging, experiences, lifestyles, and purpose-driven movements.



This profound change underscores the importance of targeting consumer mindsets instead of demographics. Brands can’t inspire long-term loyalty if they don’t know their audience members’ identities, interests, and motivations. Targeting mindsets allows brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level, which positively affects brands’ bottom lines.

How to Target Consumer Mindsets

It’s easy to target consumers based on demographic data, but mindset modeling requires brands to study their audiences. Here are a few ways to identify what really connects with people:

Perform consumer research. Brands should take some time and get to know their target audiences. Focus groups can be incredibly valuable because they offer insights into how consumers act, think, and feel.

Big data, shopper data, and first-party data can also help brands identify what people find valuable, where they live, how they work and play, what voice or tone will resonate with them, and so much more.

Revisit strategies regularly. To remain relevant, brands should be ready to reassess their mindset marketing strategies. If 2020 highlighted anything, it was that cultural, economic, and political factors change. All of these significantly impact audience mindsets, which is why brands must remain nimble. There are no guarantees when it comes to mindset marketing.

Live out values. While it’s important for brands to communicate their values to audiences, they must also live out those values in their daily operations. For example, quite a few brands put out disingenuous statements supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, leading consumers to call them out for virtue signaling. Instead, brands must demonstrate good corporate values from top to bottom.

It’s easy to market toward demographics, but brands can’t connect with people unless they learn how they think. By developing a mindset-based marketing strategy, brands can better resonate with their audiences and increase consumer loyalty.
1 comment about "Consumer Mindsets Matter: Understanding The Why Behind The Buy".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 26, 2021 at 10:03 a.m.

    I agree, Kim. I've been preaching the importance of mindsets for decades. Where most ad campaigns are based on targeting the mindsets of consumers who may be more receptive to how a brand is positioned or the way the ad or commercial makes its case, this is done almost exclusively on the "creative" level at the agencies and their clients---the CMOs and brand managers. When it comes to media buying,  far too often it's adults aged 18-49 or women aged 25-54, creating the false impression that these nearly worthless metrics have something to do with brand targeting.

    In your piece, you mention a number of ways one can get at the mindset issue---all of which I agree with. But there's more information, readily available, that's vastly underutilized. It's in the GFK MRI-Simmons database and can give one a tremeodous amount of information about frequent product users as well as those who prefer each brand---like what other products or services they also use, what TV shows, websites, magazines, radio formats they favor, whether they are on a diet, have recently traveled to another country, how they feel about the ecology, health issues, whether they are price- or fashion- conscious, etc. etc. Such information could be readily had by any CMO/brand manager or agency "creative"---but often, they are totally  unaware of it. And the media planners could be tasking the media buyers to target media that reach people with mindsets that parallel what their brands are saying in their ads---but this almost never happens. Go figure. 

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