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How Marketing Affects People: The Psychology of Consumer Behavior

Updated: Feb 14

Ilona from VF

Author: Ilona Milostnaja

Date of Publication: 16/06/2023

Marketing is not only the sale of goods and services but also the art of the psychology of consumer behavior. Every day we are confronted with ads that try to convince us to buy something we didn't plan on buying. But how does it happen? How does marketing influence our decisions and why do we often buy what we don't need?

Theories and techniques

How Marketing Affects People: The Psychology of Consumer Behavior

Abraham Maslow's pyramid of needs theory

One of the main theories explaining the influence of marketing on consumer behavior is Abraham Maslow's pyramid of needs theory. It states that a person has five levels of needs:

  1. physiological

  2. safety

  3. social

  4. respect

  5. fulfillment

Marketing uses this theory to create advertising that will satisfy these needs. For example, advertisements for automobiles may address the need for safety and respect. This way, they show that owning a car enhances status and provides safety.

Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance and the psychology of consumer behavior

Another theory that explains the influence of marketing on consumer behavior is Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance. In particular, it states that people strive to maintain consistency between their beliefs and behavior. If a person has a belief that they should take care of their health, but they buy unhealthy food, then there is cognitive dissonance.

So, marketing uses this theory to create advertisements that will convince people that their behavior is consistent with their beliefs. For example, a healthy food advertisement can lead people to believe that they should take care of their health.

Psychological techniques

In addition, marketing uses psychological techniques to influence consumer behavior. For example, the technique of social proof is when advertising shows that many people have already bought this product or service. This way, it makes a feeling in a person that they are not lagging behind others. Another technique is the scarcity trick, where the ad says that the product is in limited supply. As a result, this makes the person feel like they have to hurry up so as not to miss the opportunity.


Marketing influences the consumer behavior of people, using various theories and psychology. However, it is important to remember that each person is different and may react differently to advertising. Therefore, when making a purchase decision, it is important to take into account exactly your needs and beliefs, and not just look at advertising. Remember to use your critical thinking skills at the time of purchase. After all, it is very difficult to think rationally among the abundance of alluring and seemingly irreplaceable things.

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