What moves customers to make a buying decision?

The Five Motives Behind Customer Purchases

The Five Motives Behind Customer Purchases

When it comes to understanding why people spend money, it’s essential to recognize that every purchase decision is driven by underlying motives. These motives are the psychological and emotional triggers that convince customers to exchange their hard-earned money for goods or services. By identifying and understanding these motives, businesses can tailor their marketing strategies to appeal more effectively to potential customers. Here, we explore the five primary motives behind consumer purchases: gain of money, gain of utility, contentedness of caution, satisfaction of pride, and pleasure.

1. Gain of Money

The motive of gaining money is primarily about financial advantage. This could involve purchasing an item or service that will save money in the long run or investing in products that promise future financial returns. For example, customers might buy energy-efficient appliances to reduce their utility bills, or they might invest in a piece of real estate that is expected to increase in value. This motive appeals to the practical, economical side of customers, highlighting how a purchase can positively impact their financial health.

2. Gain of Utility

Utility refers to the functional or practical value that a product or service offers. This motive drives purchases that help customers solve a problem or fulfill a specific need. Products that promise to make life easier, more convenient, or more efficient typically appeal to this motive. For instance, a busy professional might buy a smartphone with powerful organizational tools, or a new parent might purchase a baby stroller with lots of features. Here, the key is the usefulness of the product in improving the customers’s day-to-day life.

3. Contentedness of Caution

This motive revolves around the desire for security and safety. Products that promise to protect, secure, or maintain health and wellbeing often appeal to this motive. Insurance policies, health supplements, and security systems are all examples of products that satisfy this motive. Marketing that emphasizes safety, security, and peace of mind taps into this powerful driver, particularly effective in times of uncertainty or when targeting demographics that prioritize safety.

4. Satisfaction of Pride

Pride is a potent emotional driver, especially when it comes to luxury or status-enhancing products. This motive is about the joy or satisfaction derived from owning something that elevates one's social status or self-esteem. It can apply to luxury cars, designer clothing, or even the latest tech gadget. Products appealing to this motive often emphasize exclusivity, superiority, and prestige, suggesting that owning such items sets the customer apart from others.

5. Pleasure

Lastly, the motive of pleasure is perhaps the most straightforward: it is the pursuit of happiness and enjoyment. Products that cater to hobbies, leisure, and personal tastes fall under this category. Whether it's a vacation, a gourmet meal, or a new video game, purchases driven by the pleasure motive are all about adding joy and excitement to life. This motive is particularly influential in industries like travel, entertainment, and food and beverage, where the primary goal is to delight the senses and provide enjoyable experiences.


Understanding these five motives can greatly enhance how businesses approach their marketing strategies and product offerings. By aligning products and services with one or more of these motives, companies can create compelling value propositions that resonate deeply with their target audience’s desires and needs. Whether through advertising, product design, or customer experience, tapping into these fundamental reasons why people make purchases can lead to more effective selling and higher customer satisfaction.