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The psychology behind personalized shopping: Why we love it

Rich Towey
January 18, 2023
9 mins

Technology has revolutionized the way we shop. We're at a point where eCommerce has made personalized shopping less of a luxury, and more like the new normal.

You see, it's not just about buying the products we need. It's also about gaining an emotional connection during the shopping process.

That comes from retailers resonating with our unique interests and preferences through personalization.

How important is a personalized shopping experience? According to research from Epsilon, very. It shows the vast majority of shoppers in the US (80%) are more likely to purchase from a brand that personalizes their experience, with 71% going as far as expecting it.

Advances in technology have certainly aided this development. Automation has helped retailers deploy personalization at scale, making it easier to communicate with customers on a 1-2-1 level.

As for the consumer response, like with most things, it all comes down to science and the idea of being understood and valued.

In this article, we'll delve a little deeper into the psychology behind personalized shopping and why it's important for targeting the modern-day consumer.

Feeling unique

One of the fundamental needs of humans is to feel special and unique. Personalized shopping fulfills this need by creating a unique experience for every customer.

It's why luxury stores often have assistants to listen to their customers and suggest a suitable product. On a more basic level, if we're thinking about examples from the eCommerce world, look no further than personalized recommendations.

Championed by the likes of Amazon, the use of customers' browsing and purchase history to suggest products is now a popular strategy.

From the consumer's perspective, receiving these recommendations makes them feel important and valued. If the recommendation is irrelevant, the customer won't only ignore the suggestion, but they might even view the brand in a negative light.

If you're serving recommendations of any kind, make sure they're personalized.

Impulse buying

Personalized shopping is a big driver of impulse buying in customers. Research from Invesp shows that 49% of consumers have bought a product they hadn't planned on buying after seeing it recommended.

You might think that 'impulse' buying can't be explained, but a psychological reason is always at play. Indeed, this type of behavior stems from the need for instant gratification.

Personalized recommendations feed this impulse by presenting consumers with products that appeal to their desires, thereby increasing the likelihood of an unplanned purchase.

The dopamine surge associated with the anticipation of reward or pleasure also drives impulse purchases. Interestingly, the actual act of buying triggers this emotional response rather than the use of the product itself.

Impulsive decision-making can cause customers to spend more money than they initially intended, but it also creates a sense of excitement and pleasure during shopping.

Saving time and effort

It's not all about deep connections. Personalized shopping experiences also represent a serious time saver for customers, which has its own psychological ties.

Going through sites and pages to find the right product is a lengthy task. It can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness, which can even turn into anger when the pressure dials up.

If you've ever had to search for a Christmas gift on December 21, you'll know what we're talking about. In fact, research shows that 46% of people view sourcing gifts as the most stressful part of the holiday period.

Personalized shopping makes the process easier and quicker by offering recommendations that meet the customer's needs. It reduces the number of products and websites customers need to sift through and delivers something they know will work.

If you need to lift your sales and create happier customers over the festive period, you know what to do.

Customizing experiences for increased engagement

Personalization can help the customer fine-tune areas of the experience, leading to deeper engagement and stronger connections with a brand.

Apart from product recommendations, personalized shopping includes customizing communication channels and messages based on customer preferences.

For example, a customer might prefer to be notified of a sale via email instead of SMS. Getting an SMS might actually stimulate a negative reaction due to its invasiveness. Conversely, a well-timed email could be exactly what they need to make a purchase.

Allowing customers to select their communication channels based on preferences will increase your clicks and conversions. It will also make them feel more engaged with your brand as they can build an experience that works for them.

Benefits for the brand

We couldn't leave without spelling out the advantages of personalization from a brand's perspective.

Whether you're building a product recommendation engine or investing in customized communications, recognize that your decision carries several benefits, including:

  • More revenue by giving customers extra recommendations they'll actually use
  • Greater satisfaction by creating experiences that meet people's unique needs
  • Deeper connections, leading to increased loyalty to your brand
  • Less wastage on campaigns and activities that don't work

These benefits make total sense when considering the psychological triggers that personalized shopping creates.

Final thoughts

It's fair to say that the future of shopping is in deeper personalization. Here's why:

Customers are no longer happy to receive recommendations they don't want, through communication channels they'd rather be left alone, by brands they don't respect.

Thankfully, the technology has caught up to the point where this should not be an issue.

It might seem sudden, but the increased demand for personalization is all down to the psychological needs of feeling unique, valued, and understood.

Personalized shopping experiences save customers time and effort, create emotional connections, enhance shopping experiences, and can even lead to impulse buying. Ultimately, the science behind personalized shopping supports the case for retailers to build it into their plans.

We can also see that brands that recognize and incorporate personalized shopping into their marketing strategy create a lasting bond with their customers. They acquire more new shoppers while keeping hold of their existing ones for longer. They increase revenue by building bigger orders through personalized recommendations.

They have the tools to grow intelligently, and so do you. If you'd like to build 1-2-1 connections with your customers, book a demo of RevLifter's eCommerce personalization platform and see how it can drive your goals.