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Consumer Behaviour Technology Behavioural Sciences

How to leverage behavioral psychology to make generic products desirable

By Rob Bridgens, Head of paid marketing

Reflect Digital


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July 22, 2022 | 7 min read

Distinguishing e-commerce products for consumers is no easy feat. Thankfully Reflect Digital’s head of paid marketing Rob Bridgens shares his guide for creating products with cut-through.

Reflect Digital on creating attractive ecommerce products. Image: Eduardo Soares/Unsplash

Reflect Digital on how to use behavioral psychology to create attractive e-commerce products / Eduardo Soares via Unsplash

Beyond the aesthetics, many products that are on sale through competing e-commerce vendors are very similar. In fact, they may even be the same product white-labeled as their own – something we’re seeing more of on sites such as Amazon.

So if you are selling the same product as your competitors, how do you make yours more desirable without creating a race to the bottom by lowering prices?

Understand your customers with behavioral psychology

To make your product stand out, you need an edge. To achieve this we recommend giving attention to the three main psychological motivation triggers:

  1. Rational motivation: Driven by competency and facts

  2. Contextual motivation: Driven by recognition and purpose

  3. Emotional motivation: Driven by affiliation and authenticity


Source: Reflect Digital

Tip: Don’t just focus on the rational facts

According to behavioral economists, consumer decision-making is 30% rational and 70% emotional.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rational factors when the product description is clear; the spec will detail factors such as dimensions, material, color and weight. And while these are all good points, it’s the same as every other seller – making price the decision-making quality for potential buyers.

Even if there are several rational reasons to buy your product, humans aren’t rational animals. We like to think that we weigh up the options in advance, but studies show that isn’t the case. We make decisions based on gut feelings, underlying fears and biases – and then we assign rational reasons for those actions after the event.

So, how do you stand out?

As we mentioned earlier, multiple factors drive purchase decisions, and tapping into a user’s need at any given time will help your product to stand out. These fall into the categories of emotional and contextual drivers.

Example: let’s take an oak dining room table

The rational factors we already spoke about are addressed in the specifications and cost of the item. These cover if an item is fit for a user’s purpose.

  • Will this dining table fit in my available space?

  • Is it made from the material I want?

  • What does it cost?

By layering contextual and emotional descriptions we can really differentiate this table from that sold by your competitors.

Contextual terms or phrases we could use to achieve this:

Contextual terms such as ‘impressive’ and ‘classy’ make a user think of the impact of this when others see it, whereas ‘modern’ or ‘classic’ give authority that the design is a good one and not tired or old-fashioned. A phrase such as ‘large enough to seat 10 for your next dinner party’ helps the user to better visualize having a large gathering at the table.

Emotional terms or phrases:

Terms such as these can include ‘family dining’ or ‘heart of the house’ to invoke a sense of family and togetherness, perhaps making a user think: “I grew up with a table like this.” Phrases such as ‘hand-made’ and ‘crafted’ both give a sense of time invested and care taken in the production of the table. In the meantime, ‘sustainably sourced’ and ‘durable’ give credibility to the materials and their impact on the world.

The below examples should give you a better idea of how we can tap into these additional drivers. Now let’s put that into practice:

Example 1: Standard description

Oak Dining Table

Large Oak dining table, 6ft. 9ft with expansion, six seats, expandable to 10.

Dimensions: Width: 180cm; Height: 77cm; Depth: 100cm; Materials: Oak.

Design: Expanding Dining Table.

Example 2: Human behavioral description

Sturdy Solid Oak Family Dining Table.

An impressive 9ft oak dining table, able to seat up to 10 guests.

A practical, space-saving expansion panel allows this table to reduce to just 6ft. Perfect for your busy family home, but able to expand for large Christmas dinners and dinner parties.

Dimensions: Width: 180cm; Height: 77cm; Depth: 100cm

Materials: Hand-finished rustic oak.

Design: Classic English dining table with expansion panel.

You can see that the first example builds upon the very matter-of-fact rational description that we see in the second. The addition of contextual and emotional triggers gives you more chances to hook a user’s behavioral drivers, thus making the product more desirable, despite being the same product. These are the gut feelings, underlying fears and biases we spoke of earlier.

The power of behavioral psychology on your results

You could be surprised how powerful even small changes based on behavioral psychology can be. At Reflect Digital we regularly push the boundaries of what our clients can achieve by testing these techniques on their adverts, landing pages, product pages and more.

Take one example. We simply changed the header and two introductory sentences to one of our clients’ main landing pages. We changed that messaging from their standard brand message to emotional messaging based on our bespoke human behavior framework.

What happens now?

Understanding your audience is the first step in being able to craft product descriptions that stand out from your competitors and resonate with users to drive conversions. You need to learn what drives them – why are they looking at your product? How can you make the price not the sole differentiating factor for shoppers?

Consider how the language you use resonates with your market – for example, if you’re targeting trend-conscious millennials, then phrases such as ‘classic’ or ‘unique’ may not have the desired impact while ‘as seen in XYZ’s celebrity home’ and ‘this season’s must-have’ would drive more of an interest.


  • Determine who your target audience for this product or service is

  • Review your product description. Does this resonate with your chosen audience?

  • Review the language used – have you used emotive language or have you focused on facts and figures? Make sure you have a mix of rational, emotional and contextual drivers as described above to make the description memorable

  • Split test – if you are targeting multiple age groups separately via paid media, for example, the drivers you use to inspire them may be different

Not sure what drives your audience? Speak to our paid media team at Reflect Digital, who can help you to uncover what works and what doesn’t.

Consumer Behaviour Technology Behavioural Sciences

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Reflect Digital

We are part of The Human First Collective alongside LAB and Aspiration Digital. Reflect Digital is the digital marketing agency your customers will thank you for...

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