The psychology of a sale: can personality-led spending lead to happier customers?

How many times have you heard someone say “money can’t buy you happiness” and then questioned it later after unpacking your new PS4 or tasting that first sip of Saint Émillion Grand Cru?

It seems researchers at the University of Cambridge feel the same way, so last year they carried out a study to see if there is any truth in it (I bloody love science!).

Their conclusion, revealed in this Quartz article, was yes - money can buy you happiness, but only if you spend it in a way that is consistent with your personality type.

They identify five key traits that affect how spending money feels to the customer:

  1. Openness to experience - are they more artistically and culturally inclined, or traditional and conservative?

  2. Conscientiousness - are they disciplined or easygoing and not so good at self-control?,

  3. Extraversion - outgoing or reserved?

  4. Agreeableness -  do they adopt an argumentative or conciliatory approach when talking to you?

  5. Neuroticism - it’s not as extreme as it sounds - we’re talking about the level of emotion the customer displays

To take one example, analysis of over 75,000 transactions found that over the course of a year, extroverts didn’t just spend more in bars than introverts ($77 on average), they felt better about it too.

That might sound obvious, but it has real implications for the retail and hospitality sectors. Personalisation is already a huge trend in digital marketing. By drawing on insights from consumers’ online shopping habits and social media data, we hope to drive sales by recommending the products they really want.  

But how often can we say that’s true in bricks-and-mortar retail? Personalisation is becoming more of a feature in stores, but I’d bet that plenty of staff are still trained to sell the product rather than sell to the customer.

By using their understanding of the different cues above, your teams can sell the products that are most likely to make their customers happy. And happy memories are more likely to result in repeat business! In such a competitive industry, none of us can afford to ignore the psychology behind a sale.

I find this topic fascinating so I hope to revisit it on the blog soon. In the meantime, how are you planning to get to know your customers better? I’d love to hear from you.



Yapster Admin