3 types of buyers

Three types of buyers. How to adapt to them?

Consumer Psychology and Neuroeconomics is the only real way to understand why and how shoppers make purchases. Despite the fact that the psychology of the buyer itself is rather complex, it can be simplified into three groups.

The main idea that I want to convey is that all consumer reactions and behaviors can be aggregated into three types of buyers. To sell more products and services, you need to understand how to reach each type of customer. It's simple. What I'm going to do is:

  • Give you a short description of the three types of buyers.
  • Explain some of the characteristics of each type.
  • Share a few tried and tested selling tips for every type of buyer.

What are the 3 types of buyers?

Neuroscientists have defined the structure of human spending as a process that can be characterized by a simple principle: "spend until it hurts." The deterrent reason that stops a person from buying anything is the anxiety that the buyer experiences when parting with money, and not the lack of funds and opportunities.

With a reduced level of anxiety, a person is ready to spend without restrictions, and, conversely, even with significant savings, he will deny himself everything, not wanting to part with money. Therefore, understanding these different levels of pain points and ways to deal with shopper anxiety is essential to maximize your potential sales. So, I would like to introduce you to the economist, shopaholic and moderate shopper.

Economist (increased "pain", above the average threshold) - "I will not spend my money if you do not rip it out of my strong hands." Economists love to save and hate to spend. According to the professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, author of the bestselling book The Psychology of Influence, Robert Cialdini, in general, this category of buyers is 24%. The economists will stick to their money for as long as they can. They love their money and keep it away in savings accounts so they don't even get tempted. Psychologists attribute this behavior to one of the common monetary disorders, in which a person gets real pleasure from the hoarding process and experiences increased anxiety at the slightest need to pay. Even the very thought of having to part with money is painful to varying degrees.

Shopaholic (reduced level of "pain") - "I'm going to spend all the money I can, and then a little more!" Psychologists identify extreme compulsive disorder (addiction to shopping, accompanied by emotional excitement during shopping with a deep sense of guilt after) in 6% of the audience. In general, this type of buyers is up to 15%. This category, as a rule, abuses credit cards and uses them in calculations even for basic purchases. Shopaholics can have several credit cards at once, some of which are used to cover debt on other loans. They love to spend money. What is the money for if you don’t spend it ?! This is the acclaimed "impulse buyer" - the client of the marketer's dream.

Moderate Buyers - "If it seems like a smart buy, I buy." This is the majority of us - 61% of buyers... We spend on what we think is appropriate. We are thinking about shopping. We weigh our options, take the time to make a decision, and usually try to make the smart move and save some money.

As you might expect, most shoppers are moderates and shopaholics. It is on them that marketers are guided, adhering to the LOE principle - the optimal balance of effort and result. If a small amount of effort can generate more revenue for the money spent, it is advisable to create a marketing plan that targets buyers who are ready to part with their money more quickly and easily. Little effort, good conversion. Why not.

However, one should not ignore economists who make up 24%. Almost a quarter of the people to whom you have to sell keep their savings "under the mattress" and do not want to part with them. You might want to give them a little attention too. They are certainly more difficult to work with, but they definitely have money. There is only a question of motivation.

Marketing doesn't have a one-size-fits-all approach. We have to talk in different ways with different types of people.

What are the characteristics of the 3 types of buyers?

Now let me delve deeper into the characteristics of each of these three types of buyers. Let's make sure we really understand some of the driving forces that affect these people.

Economists anticipate the pain of costs ahead and react ahead of time without buying. Maybe you, too, sometimes experience anxiety before significant purchases, but the fact is that they foresee pain much more acutely than most and regardless of the size of the purchase, that is, always from the thought that you have to pay. According to research, the anticipatory pain of an upcoming payment causes them to spend less than the person would ideally like to spend. The economist is controlled by the amount that he thinks the product should cost. His attitude to spending depends on how much he or she thinks it should cost. However, this amount is usually distorted and underestimated due to the sensitivity to the budget deficit. Economic research showed that certain types of people - those who fall into the category of thrifty women - are real ascetics who deny themselves everything, never indulge themselves with unnecessary expenses. Such people are "painful to enjoy." In addition to the pain of shopping, they feel the pain of comfort too. They, for example, will not buy themselves a massage, because in their opinion it is a shameful excess.

Economists know how to plan their budgets well, predict the situation and prepare for it. However, sometimes their foresight can turn into a diagnosis, for example, every crisis in our country, including the latest pandemic, there are surges in sales of buckwheat, pasta, flour and sugar. These goods are bought in bags in anticipation of the apocalypse and doomsday. I didn’t joke about the latter. The relatively recent apocalypse, for which our country was preparing according to the ancient Mayan calendar (and I'm not joking again), was scheduled to take place on December 21, 2012. It was during this period that we completed a tablet study of pasta sales in retail chains for one manufacturer. And we can say quite rightly that pasta comes from the short-list of "rainy day" products, because two weeks before the appointed end of the world, a three-month volume was sold for the brand we are researching. In the middle segment (to which our trade mark belonged), instead of the traditional volume of 1-2 packs per customer, 5 or more were purchased. In the economy segment, on average, 10-15 packages. It is important to note that in the middle segment, purchases were also made by economists, who noted that our brand was expensive for them and justified their more expensive purchases by the fact that durum wheat is good for children. And for themselves, the respondents considered it optimal to buy products from the bottom shelf, because overpayment in this case is inappropriate. Of course, the peak of sales was accompanied by a predicted decline - they were still eating up their stocks for a long time. Could such purchases be called reasonable? Is it economical to buy ten packs instead of one? Is it reasonable to buy at full price, without waiting for special offers from the supermarket, which are in great demand in this particular category? Hardly, if we speak from the position that nothing happened. And, of course, this causes great discomfort for economists. But a new crisis (coronavirus) came and the shelves with buckwheat, sugar, flour and pasta were empty again in supermarkets. What can you do, nature cannot be defeated and you cannot change yourself. Economists will always count every penny, clearly planning their expenses. And they will always be the best prepared for the worst. So, if one day an asteroid falls to the ground and someone survives at all, we know who can find a couple of bags of flour.

Shopaholics are the exact opposite of economists. They generally do not have any remorse about the upcoming spending (after, of course, it is possible, but certainly never before). These profligates are alien to the doubt and worry that many of us periodically feel before making a purchase. They don't notice this pain. In fact, they really enjoy the opportunity to spend money. The anticipation of a purchase is a real pleasure for shopaholics, their passion, their freedom to afford even more than they can. The more money they spend, the better they feel (before and during the purchase). Spending doesn't hurt. Their brains work in such a way that the idea of ​​"spending money" actually makes the cerebral pleasure centers turn on. This is the exact opposite of what the other two categories of shoppers experience.

Expenses are not governed by a pre-planned budget or spending plan. "Budget" is not part of the vocabulary of shopaholics. Very few regulatory factors can affect the structure of their expenses, for example, lack of personal funds, as well as funds on credit cards, plus a couple of outstanding accounts, etc. And then, if they have the slightest source of financing for their purchase (any sponsor or borrower), shopaholics will immediately seize the opportunity to please themselves. Their consumer behavior is governed exclusively by positive emotions, which they feed on when spending money. And about how they will pay off their debts, they "think tomorrow."

Shopaholics ignore the price tag and focus entirely on the attractiveness of the very thought of owning a product or getting a service. They are driven by emotions. In some cases, shopaholics assign additional benefits to more expensive purchases. Instead of analyzing the feasibility of a purchase, studying the features of a product or service, they consider the purchase solely from the point of view of a higher price: expensive means high quality.

Economists and shopaholics represent polar opposites in shopper behavior. The best way to summarize the attitudes and actions of moderate buyers is to simply say that they fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Here are some specific characteristics. Moderate shoppers have an estimate of their budget, but a rough estimate. Although most do not have a strict budget, they have a basic idea of ​​how much money goes into their family budget and how much is spent, including with an indicative budget for specific items of expenditure: for food, utilities, gasoline (road), training ( hobby), entertainment, etc. With these rough numbers in mind, the moderate buyer knows if he can afford anything outside of the typical spending range.

He allows himself to make impulsive purchases and overpayments from time to time. Few people have complete control over their spending in every area. Maybe you have excellent control over your supermarket spending by counting your average check, but you just can't resist the pleasure of going to a great restaurant or buying expensive alcohol. And someone can do without expensive restaurants and delicacies, but has a weakness for expensive gadgets, branded items, jewelry, and so on. Each of us has our weaknesses, and therefore, even moderate buyers experience bursts of behavioral gravitation to the group of economists, then to shopaholics.

In general, moderate shoppers carefully consider the value proposition, benefits, and features of their purchases. In other words, they can rationally look at the purchase by comparing competitors and their advantages. They consider options before making a purchase decision and may even compare the small print prices of two items per 100g at the grocery supermarket to determine the best deal.

Of course, facts and data affect their spending, but they are also influenced by public opinion and emotionally affected. Most people don't shop the first time they visit a website. Instead, they compare 2-3 competing offers, return after considering options and possibly finding promo codes for special conditions. The hallmark of moderates is that they can make spontaneous purchases and overpay, but in general, they try to think and adhere to the principles of conscious consumption. Basically, they think about it.

So now that you understand the three types of buyers and understand their characteristics and tendencies, is it important to understand the principles of communication with each of them? Here are a few general selling strategies for each of the three types.

How to sell to economists?

Since this category makes up a significant percentage of your potential audience (24%), you will have to spend time on them.

  • A calculating and economical person probably won't spend money on anything if it doesn't fit into his or her budget. Therefore, it is important to assess what needs in his budget you can cover with your product in order to justify the costs.
  • Sell ​​using negative emotional signals, not positive ones. In other words, don't use messages like "you deserve," "treat yourself," "enjoy," and "best for you." Instead, use messages like "losing money hurts" or "save your money and secure a better future for your family."
  • They will respond to value propositions more than to sly emotional gimmicks, slogans, or calls.
  • An economist can smell advertising slogans a mile away, and he doesn't have time for that. To really convince him, you'll have to turn to an analytical mindset with honest statements, detailed numbers, and well-presented, well-founded information. The decision-making process in this group is analytical, accurate and simple. Use numbers, data, graphs and metrics.

How to sell to shopaholics?

They don't need to be persuaded if this is your target audience. However, here's what works best:

  • They respond to emotional ads. The decision to buy is made without analytical processing and comes from what is called the heart.
  • They respond to visual content, showcasing a beautiful future in every sense. They are seduced by images. In keeping with the high emotional response of shopaholics, keep your visual marketing high. And they will be yours.
  • Color psychology plays an important role in the behavior of shopaholics. Use it strategically.

How to sell to moderate buyers?

Since this is the largest proportion of buyers, you need to focus most of your marketing on this population. The average shopper is smart, but in moderation shares some of the characteristics of the previous two groups:

  • They respond to a mix of emotion-driven and metric-driven marketing messages. In keeping with their nature as extreme shoppers, your average customer base will respond to factual numbers and emotional delivery alike. Use both mechanisms of action at once.
  • They love guarantees, returns and free services. Most ordinary people are just looking for a great deal. All the additional advantages to the purchase, such as increased guarantees, free shipping, and so on, can tilt them in favor of buying from you.


Knowing the psychology of the buyer can increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. You can ignore this at your own risk, or you can take it in your favor. While it may sound dreadfully complex, the basic ideas in neuroeconomics are strikingly simple. There are three types of buyers. You just need to know them and handle them correctly. And they will buy from you.

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