Marketing Psychology: 6 Principles That Affect Advertising Perception

There is no doubt that a marketer needs to know what psychological traits affect the way users choose and buy products or services. Understanding these features and processes allows you to better use marketing tools and influence user experience.

Experts from the industry agency AdEspresso have collected six basic principles in marketing, which are based on user psychology and perception characteristics. We have translated and adapted this material.

Social proof

According to the principle of social proof, users make decisions based on the behavior of other people. How does this relate to marketing?

The point is, people are more likely to shop when they see good reviews from other customers. Positive feedback on goods and services, a large number of active users on a page or in a group in social networks, user generated content (UGC, User Generated Content) – all this increases the likelihood that the user will want to make a purchase. Therefore, social proof is useful for promotion.

The fact that people with no brand experience yet often rely on social proof is supported by research. For example, the results of research from the Olapic platform and the research company Cite Research show that people believe more what customers say about a brand than what brands say about themselves.

Therefore, ask users who have left a good review for permission to post it or use it in advertising. You can also offer your customers a referral program so that they can share information about your brand with other people. Another way is to collect user generated content.

Cosmetics company Lush is using the hashtag #LushShowAndTell to encourage customers to post photos of their products. The company often posts with this hashtag to its Instagram account.

The post received over 59,000 likes and hundreds of comments in just a few days. The high engagement inspired a satisfied customer to write the next post, further strengthening Lush’s Instagram presence with social proof.

And here is the account of the Moon Beauty beauty gadgets store. They post customer reviews in Stories.

Reviews in Stories

Fear of missed opportunities

The more difficult it is to purchase a product and the less it is, the more valuable it is. For example, gemstones are so expensive because they are difficult to mine. This is the principle of scarcity in action.

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The FoMo (Fear of missing out) principle states that people tend to value goods more highly if they feel some kind of shortage. For example, one study assessed consumer behavior and found that when there were two identical brands of chocolate biscuits, people gave preference based on how many packs of chocolate biscuits were left. The less, the more actively they chose this particular brand.

That is, users are more likely to make a purchase if they think the quantity of a product is limited. Scarcity creates a sense of urgency and motivates to purchase the product as soon as possible. This behavior is based on fear of missed opportunities and often leads users to make impulse purchases.


Run temporary promotions or emphasize that the quantity of goods is limited. Use phrases such as “only three left,” “three days off,” or “just one day until the close of sales,” and so on. This will show users what they will lose if they don’t buy now.

Williams Sonoma sells kitchen utensils and encourages customers to place an order so they can get the item they want for Mother’s Day.

Fear of missed opportunities

Here’s another example. We are offered to use to receive a gift when buying from 1499 rubles, but they warn that the number of gifts is limited.

Promotion from NYX

Mutual exchange

When you are given a gift, you probably feel that you have to give something in return. In psychology, this is called the rule of mutual exchange. In business, it works like this: the user feels indebted if he has already received something for free.

Use this principle and offer free products (white papers, checklists, trial versions, etc.) in exchange for user contacts. Be sure to focus on what exactly the user will receive, and after that ask for contacts.

AdEspresso offers a free Facebook Ads eBook when you sign up for their newsletter. They focus on the benefits that the user will receive if they subscribe, and only then are they encouraged to subscribe.

Mutual exchange

In this case, the effect is enhanced by the fact that the offer to receive the book and subscribe to the newsletter is usually placed at the bottom of the page, under the articles. That is, when a user sees this banner offering to get a book for a subscription, he has already read some free content, which means that he has already received something from the company.

Fear of loss

This principle means that people experience more emotion when they lose something than when they gain something of equal value. For example, the disappointment of losing even a small amount of money will be stronger than the joy of receiving the same amount.

This is similar to the fear of missed opportunities, but it works a little differently. Taking advantage of the fear of missed opportunities, we focus on product scarcity. If we work with fear of loss, then we focus on the fact that a person can lose the opportunity that he already has.

How is it used in marketing? For example, if a user has signed up for a trial subscription to a service, you can remind him that the test period will end soon and the person will no longer be able to use the service. When a person places an order in an online store, free shipping is offered, but only when ordering from a certain amount. If a person has not reached this amount, you can show him how much he loses due to the impossibility of free delivery and how much he could save if he put something else in the basket.

Here’s an example from online store Lamoda. The site has the ability to pay for the order online or choose to pay the courier upon receipt. It is more convenient for the company to pay for the purchase immediately, because then there will be fewer rejections of the goods, because it is not so easy to return the already paid goods. If you choose to pay upon receipt, then you can immediately refuse part or all of the goods. To enable users to pay for their purchase online, Lamoda offers free shipping, while paying to the courier will cost 200 rubles.

Delivery from Lamoda

And here is a foreign retailer. You can order free shipping from him only when buying from $ 25.

Offer from a foreign retailer

Snapping effect

The effect of anchoring or anchoring is that a decision is influenced by the first information received related to that decision, which is then tailored to the answer. The brain clings to this information like a hint – an anchor. In this case, the information can be absolutely any and its content does not matter much.

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How is it used in marketing? For example, a person in a shopping center walks into a store and sees jeans for $ 100, then walks into another, and there similar jeans are sold for $ 50. And it doesn’t matter that in both cases the price is too high, and the person usually spends much less on jeans. He starts from the higher price, and the second price already seems to be profitable to him.

Apply this principle to your campaigns by listing an initial price, followed by a discounted price. This initial price will guide buyers and highlight the value of the offer.

There is a good example from JC Penney store. Instead of periodically organizing temporary promotions, the store set low prices on an ongoing basis. Accordingly, they did not write the old price, it made no sense. As a result, sales fell sharply and returned to their previous level only when the company returned to the old strategy.

Here are two more examples where an advertiser listed the old price next to the new, discounted price.

Decoy effect

This cognitive bias is that introducing a third, less attractive option appears to be more cost effective than having only two options.

When a person has two options, he directly compares them with each other. The appearance of the third option changes the user’s perception of the choice, confuses, and it becomes likely that he will choose the more expensive option.

For example, let’s say you sell three service subscription options. Let’s say that one of them costs 5,000 rubles a month, but includes five instruments at once. There is a second one for 2500 rubles with one instrument, and another one consisting of only three instruments, but for 4000 rubles. This third disadvantageous option can lead the user to buy the first most expensive package.

You can also show the price for a set and separately – for individual products from this set, while the price for a separate product should seem less favorable. This is the trick National Geographic uses to advertise different subscription options.

Multiple tariff offer

Read on

Psychological principles are a great addition to your existing marketing campaign. Learn to skillfully integrate them into your ads, test and get more buyers and conversions.

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