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7 Marketing Psychology Tricks to Drive Sales This Summer

Ever browsed online stores with the intention of just "window shopping," only to find yourself clicking "buy now" on an item that wasn't even on your radar? It's not magic, it's marketing psychology. Grab your metaphorical sunhat and join us as we explore these and other psychological influences that can make your summer campaign sizzle.

Written by

Caroline McQueen ACIM

what's in store

There’s something about the changing seasons that always makes us want to refresh our approach. From experimenting with new marketing channels to trying out innovative customer engagement strategies, once the days get longer and warmer, we’re all for a fun, refreshing marketing shake-up.

But when it comes to crafting your summer campaigns, there’s nothing worse than throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks. While trendy tactics and flashy visuals might grab attention, they often fall short of delivering sustainable results.

As consumers gear up for travel and embrace a “gorpcore” aesthetic, summer 2024 presents a unique opportunity to connect with them. That’s where the power of marketing psychology comes in. By understanding the subtle triggers and biases that influence consumer behaviour, you can unlock a powerful arsenal of techniques to skyrocket your sales this summer and beyond.

In this article, we’ll delve into seven key marketing psychology principles that you can apply to your summer campaigns. These principles will give you the edge you need to stand out from the crowd and drive real results. Let’s leverage the latest consumer trends with marketing psychology to craft campaigns that resonate and drive sales.

Get ready to scroll, learn, and implement these powerful tactics to make your brand the hottest summer ticket!

​​How to Influence Customers and Boost Sales (Without Discounts)

Photo by Farah from Burst

Sunshine, fun, and… marketing psychology? You bet! Summer is a prime time for shopping sprees, but have you ever wondered what goes on in our minds when deciding what to buy on those hot summer days?

We’ll explore seven fundamental principles that influence our summer shopping habits, from scarcity that makes limited-edition items fly off the shelves to the anchoring effect that makes sale prices seem even more enticing. We’ll also reveal the frequency illusion that makes us feel like we’re seeing a product everywhere and the power of loss aversion that keeps us holding onto that cute summer dress we haven’t worn in years (but totally will again… maybe). 

1. Priming Your Online Store for Summer Sales

Have you ever noticed yourself inexplicably drawn to certain items after seeing something unexpected? 

Maybe you walk into a bakery and suddenly crave a chocolate croissant, even if you weren’t thinking about pastries beforehand. This seemingly magical influence is called priming, and it’s a powerful tool used in marketing psychology.

Imagine you’re shopping online for a new pair of running shoes. Before seeing any specific shoes, you visit a website section titled “Unbeatable Prices on Running Shoes!” This subtle “money prime” has just been activated. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, this prime can nudge you towards choosing the cheaper option, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned runner or a fitness newbie.

Priming’s Impact on Browsing Behaviour

Here’s the fascinating part: the study found that the prime influenced both experts and novices, but in different ways. Newbies, with less existing knowledge, relied heavily on the website cues. They’d spend more time looking at the price after seeing the money prime, actively seeking information to support the primed focus. Experts, on the other hand, likely used their internal knowledge base. The prime influenced their choice, but their browsing behaviour remained unchanged – suggesting they relied on memory rather than actively searching.

This study highlights the power of website design in influencing customer choices. So, the next time you find yourself inexplicably drawn to a specific product online, consider the power of priming and how website design might subtly influence your choices!

marketing-psychology-priming-blue-cross-sale
Example: Dune London priming customers for the summer blue cross sale

Prime Time for Sales: Tips for Using Priming in Your Online Store

Now that you’ve seen how website design can subtly influence customer choices through priming, let’s explore how you can leverage this powerful technique in your online store.Here are some actionable tips:

Know Your Audience

The study highlights the importance of understanding your target audience’s expertise level. Are visitors seasoned shoppers with a good grasp of your products, or are they relatively new to your brand? Knowing who’s visiting your website will guide your approach to priming and personalisation.

For novices, presenting information that guides their search process can be helpful. However, remember—clarity and transparency are what’s important. The goal is to gently nudge them, not manipulate them.

Highlight What Matters

Use website elements like headlines, banners, and product descriptions to subtly prime customers towards specific features. If you’re focusing on value, consider headlines like “Unbeatable Deals on Stylish Sunglasses!” or “Top-Rated Quality at Affordable Prices.” For a brand known for eco-friendly practices, you could prime with “Sustainable Style for the Conscious Consumer.”

Use Visual Cues

Images and videos can be powerful priming tools. Showcase products in situations that highlight their key features—for example, feature images of festival goers wearing your new technical jackets to prime for functionality. Alternatively, showcase stylish outfits featuring your latest clothing line to prime for a stylish summer garden party.

Curate Your Category Pages

Think strategically about the order in which you present products on category pages. Consider highlighting items that resonate with the prime you’ve set. For instance, if you’re priming with “New Arrivals!”, showcase your latest products first to grab attention.

A/B Test and Refine

The effectiveness of priming can vary depending on your audience and product category. A/B testing different priming approaches allows you to see what resonates best with your customers. Feel free to experiment and refine your strategy based on the data you gather.

Create a Summer-Themed Shopping Experience

Consider incorporating a summer theme from your website design into your social media presence. Use bright, warm colours, beachy imagery, and summer-related language. This subtle environmental priming creates a positive association between your brand and the joys of summer, making your products more appealing.

Remember: Transparency is vital–don’t mislead your customers. Use priming ethically to guide their attention and highlight your products’ strengths, but allow them to make informed choices based on their needs.

By strategically implementing these priming techniques, you can subtly nudge your customers towards your summer offerings and watch your sales soar.

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2. The Power of Giving: How Reciprocity Boosts Sales

We’ve all experienced the feeling of wanting to return a favour. A friend buys you coffee, so you treat them next time. A neighbour offers unexpected help, and you feel compelled to do something nice. This natural human tendency is called reciprocity, another powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

As Dr. Robert Cialdini explains in his influential book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” the reciprocity principle is deeply ingrained in us. We feel obligated to repay those who do something for us, even if it’s something small. In marketing terms, this translates to the idea that by giving something first, you can create a feeling of indebtedness that encourages customers to return the favour by purchasing from you.

marketing-psychology-reciprocity
Example: Grace & Stella offer freebies for orders over a certain amount

Turn “Thank You” into “Yes Please”: Actionable Tips for Reciprocity

Here’s how you can leverage the power of reciprocity to boost your summer sales:

  • Offer Free Samples or Gifts: A small gesture goes a long way. Provide free samples with purchases, offer a free trial period, or include a surprise gift with orders. Remember, the value doesn’t have to be high – giving triggers the feeling of obligation.
  • Personalise Your Approach: A handwritten “Thank You” note with an order, a birthday discount for loyal customers, or early access to new products for VIP customers – these personalised touches create a stronger sense of reciprocity.
  • Go Beyond the Transaction: Offer valuable, free content like downloadable guides, educational live shopping events, or access to exclusive resources. These perks will establish you as a helpful resource and build trust, fostering the desire to reciprocate by supporting your brand.
  • Foster a Community Feeling: Create a space for customer interaction, like a forum or social media group. Customers feel obligated to the brand and its fellow members by fostering a sense of community and belonging.

Remember, being genuine and transparent is critical to using reciprocity effectively. Don’t pressure customers for a return favour; let the power of the initial gesture work its magic. By implementing these tips, you can build lasting customer relationships rooted in mutual respect and a sense of obligation – a potent recipe for summer sales success.

3. Social Proof: The Psychology of “We Belong”

Social proof is a cornerstone of marketing psychology, and for good reason. The online world is noisy, and trust is more important than ever for brands to stand out. The digital landscape bombards consumers with countless options. So, how do you cut through the clutter and convince them to choose you? 

Humans are inherently social creatures, and we often rely on the experiences of others to guide our own choices. That’s why a whopping 93% of consumers rely on online reviews and recommendations before purchasing. Think about it – have you ever hesitated to try a new restaurant with an empty dining room? Now imagine the same restaurant packed with happy diners and glowing online reviews. Suddenly, it feels much more trustworthy, right?

This is the magic of social proof in action. You build social validation by showcasing positive customer reviews, testimonials, and social media mentions. These endorsements act as a form of trust signal, letting potential customers know that others have had positive experiences with your brand.

marketing-psychology-social-proof-upsells
Example: Yade Paris using social proof for up-sells

Leveraging Social Proof for Summer Sales Success

Social proof isn’t just about building trust; it’s a powerful tool for boosting sales as well. Let’s say a customer is browsing a swimsuit on your ecommerce site. Here’s where strategically placed social proof elements come in. Next to the product description, you could showcase popular upsells like “Frequently Bought Together” with a matching wrap skirt or “Customers Who Bought This Also Purchased” with a bikini top and bottoms. Including these suggestions and positive customer reviews for the upsell items creates a powerful psychological nudge.

This social validation shows customers that these upsells aren’t random suggestions but popular choices that enhance the experience for other customers. By subtly nudging them with social proof, you can encourage upselling in a natural, non-pushy way, ultimately boosting your summer promotions.

Remember, the key to success with social proof is authenticity. Showcase genuine customer reviews, highlight positive social media mentions, and encourage user-generated content. By fostering a sense of community and trust built on shared experiences, you can harness the power of marketing psychology and watch your summer sales soar.

4. The Allure of Summer Limited Editions: How Scarcity Makes Your Products Hot

Have you ever noticed a surge in excitement when a product becomes a “limited edition” or a sale is advertised as a “flash sale”? There’s a reason for that! In marketing psychology, scarcity plays an influential role in influencing how much we value something and how quickly we make purchasing decisions.

This concept isn’t just a hunch – research shows a strong connection between availability and perceived value. Here’s how scarcity can make your summer products sizzle:

The Forbidden Fruit Effect: Increased Value Through Decreased Availability

Imagine a beach towel available in a thousand prints versus one with only ten limited-edition designs. According to the study, consumers will likely perceive the limited-edition version as more valuable. The reason is that scarcity triggers a psychological response known as reactance. When our freedom to choose something is limited, we desire it more because it feels forbidden or restricted.

Fear of Missing Out: Social Influence Makes Scarcity Even Hotter

The study indicates that scarcity gets a social media boost! When we perceive competition from others (like fellow shoppers eyeing the same limited-edition towel), a small number of items becomes even more desirable. This is where marketing the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) can be particularly effective. Highlighting the social aspect of scarcity, like the limited quantity available, can spark a buying frenzy.

From Scarce to Stellar: How Scarcity Makes Products More Attractive

Scarcity doesn’t just create a sense of urgency; it can also make your product inherently more appealing. Research suggests that decreased availability can make an object seem more desirable or of higher quality. Think about it—a limited-edition product automatically gains a specific exclusivity factor, making it more attractive to those seeking something special.

Scarcity as a Powerful Marketing Tool

By understanding the psychology of scarcity, you can create a summer sales strategy that sizzles. Consider offering limited-edition products, using flash sales to create a sense of urgency, and emphasising the social aspects of scarcity to tap into the fear of missing out. 

Remember, scarcity can shift consumer focus from price to availability, so make sure your limited-edition products deliver on the promise of exclusivity and quality. Strategically implementing scarcity can turn your products from ordinary to extraordinary, driving sales and keeping your brand at the forefront of customer desire.

5. Anchoring Your Prices: A Powerful Tool to Boost Sales (Without Being Deceptive)

Ever catch yourself buying something on a whim because the price seems like a steal? That’s the power of the anchoring effect in action.

The anchoring effect is a fascinating concept in marketing psychology, where the first piece of information we see about a product (often the price) shapes our perception of its value. A recent study by Monash University, Malaysia explored how this effect influences impulse buying for essential and non-essential products.

marketing-psychology-price-anchor
Example: Coast Fashion using price anchors

Here’s how you can leverage the anchoring effect to boost your summer sales:

  • Use High-Low Anchoring: This strategy involves showcasing a higher price (the anchor) before revealing your lower selling price. For example, you could display a product’s “original price” with a strikethrough, followed by your discounted summer sale price. Price anchoring creates a sense of savings and makes your final price seem more attractive.
  • Highlight Value-Added Services: Sometimes, a simple price reduction isn’t enough. Consider offering value-added services like gift wrapping, free consultations, or extended warranties alongside your products. Value-added services creates a perception of a higher overall value proposition, making your anchored price seem more reasonable.
  • Offer Bundled Deals: People tend to perceive bundles as more valuable than individual items. Create summer sale bundles that combine complementary products at a discounted price. The initial cost of the combined bundle acts as an anchor, making the individual discounted items within the bundle seem like a better deal.

Remember: Transparency is Essential to use Marketing Psychology Effectively

While anchoring can be a powerful tool, it’s crucial to use it ethically. Avoid creating misleading “original prices” or using deceptive tactics. Focus on highlighting your products’ genuine value and the savings customers can enjoy with your summer sales.

By understanding how consumers react to initial pricing cues, you can subtly influence customer price perceptions and encourage them to make impulse purchases this summer.

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6. Seeing the Same Product Everywhere? It’s No Coincidence. It’s The Frequency Illusion

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head after hearing it once, or a specific car suddenly appeared on every road trip? It’s like the universe is conspiring to bombard you with that thing! That’s the frequency illusion, also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, at play. It’s a quirk in our brains that causes us to notice something way more often after becoming aware of it.

So, what does this have to do with people’s summer shopping habits? In marketing, the Frequency Illusion is about creating brand awareness and familiarity. 

By strategically introducing your product through targeted ads and content, you can subtly nudge consumers to start noticing it everywhere. Suddenly, they’ll see your brand mentioned by friends, popping up on social media feeds, or catching their eye in online searches. An increased “frequency” creates the illusion that your product is more popular and widely used, building trust and purchase confidence.

So, how can you leverage the Frequency Illusion to supercharge your summer sales? Here are some actionable tips:

Retargeting Magic

Have you recently browsed a product on a website but not quite taken the plunge? Then, did you notice ads for it on other websites you visited?

Retargeting is a powerful tool that allows you to showcase your brand to people who have interacted with your website or social media content. This targeted approach keeps your brand at the forefront of their minds, increasing the chances they’ll notice it “everywhere” else.

Of course, some see retargeting as friendly (or not-so-friendly) stalking, which is why so many privacy laws are now in place. Everyone seems to be talking about cookies—or are they? However, other ways of staying top-of-mind are just as powerful as ads. 

Nurturing with Valuable Content

Bombarding potential customers with ads is very 2016, although they still have their place in a well-balanced strategy. After new customers join your mailing list, you could send a series of welcome emails. These emails aren’t just about sales pitches—they’re an opportunity to share valuable content and special offers, highlighting the amazing things your brand is about.

The goal is to keep the conversation going and build a relationship that fosters trust and brand loyalty long after a customer decides to purchase.

Social Media Savvy Influencer Collabs

Engaging social campaigns can prime customers for summer promotions. However, you can also use social media to take advantage of the frequency illusion with well-timed promotions encouraging user-generated content and brand mentions. 

Partner with relevant influencers in your niche to showcase your product in a natural, relatable way. Strategic collaborations offer a double benefit. First, they tap into the influencer’s audience, giving you access to a new group of potential customers. Second, they leverage the Frequency Illusion. Plus, seeing your product featured by others adds a layer of social proof and authenticity,  making it more recognisable.

Remember, the frequency illusion isn’t about spamming the web with ads but strategically creating a positive brand presence. By providing valuable content and showcasing the awesomeness of your products, you will become a familiar face (or brand, in this case!) in people’s summer adventures. 

So, don’t be surprised the next time you spot a new brand. It’s just the frequency illusion in action, ensuring you have all the summer essentials you need!

7. The Power of Attachment: How Loss Aversion Shapes Our Buying Decisions

Photo by Thom Bradley from Burst

Have you ever held onto an old phone or outfit longer than you probably should, simply because you hated the thought of losing the money you spent on it?  

We can all relate to that feeling.  

For me, it’s a vintage Ted Baker leather jacket I snagged at a sample sale in East London in 2012. Sure, the lining is a bit worse for wear these days, and I haven’t been able to rock it since 2018. But that jacket holds many memories – from first dates that still make me smile to unforgettable summer nights out with friends. So, it’s still hanging in my wardrobe, a testament to the power of loss aversion!

Loss aversion is another fascinating quirk in human psychology. It occurs when we feel the pain of losing something more intensely than the pleasure of gaining something of equal value. This pain of losing out can significantly impact our purchasing decisions, especially when it comes to trade-in programs and brand loyalty. A recent study by researchers at the University of Southampton explores this concept in detail.

How loss aversion can influence you as a consumer

  • Holding Onto the Familiar: Because we hate feeling like we’re losing out, we might be hesitant to trade in our old items, even for a good deal on a new one. Our brains anchor onto the initial purchase price as a reference point, making the idea of getting “less” for it feel like a loss.
  • Brand Loyalty Gets a Boost: Loss aversion can also strengthen brand loyalty. If we’re happy with a brand, the thought of losing the value we associate with it (through switching) might outweigh the potential benefits of a competitor’s offer.

So, how can companies ethically use loss aversion in their marketing strategies?

  • Transparency is Key: Be upfront about the value offered for trade-ins and avoid creating a false sense of urgency. Consumers appreciate clear communication and value honesty in the long run.
  • Focus on Value, Not Loss: Instead of highlighting what customers might “lose” by not trading in, emphasise the additional value they’ll gain with a new product. Focus on features, benefits, and how the new product will enhance their lives.
  • Reward Loyalty: Loyalty programs that offer exclusive benefits or discounts can help consumers feel valued and less likely to be swayed by competitor offers that play on loss aversion.

A grasp of marketing psychology, particularly the concept of loss aversion, can be a valuable asset if you’re considering introducing an ethical recycling program for pre-loved items.

By framing your program as a way for customers to upgrade to new products while getting a fair value for their old ones, you can tap into their desire to avoid feeling like they’re losing out. This reframe can lead to increased customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and participation in your program, while also promoting sustainability by giving pre-loved items a second life.  

Of course, ethical considerations are paramount. Ensure your program is transparent, offers competitive trade-in values, and has a clear and easy-to-follow process for customers.  A well-designed ethical recycling program can ultimately benefit both your company and your customers. It creates a win-win situation that promotes value, sustainability, and customer satisfaction.

Ready to Supercharge Your Sales in Q3 with the Power of Marketing Psychology?

So, there you have it! Summer is prime time for shopping sprees, but what goes on in our minds when we decide what to buy? Marketing psychology plays a big role. We’ve explored how principles like anchoring, frequency illusion, and loss aversion influence our summer shopping habits.

By understanding these concepts and applying them creatively, you can craft summer marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience and drive sales. Remember, a happy customer fueled by a great summer purchase (influenced by a sprinkle of marketing psychology!) is a lifelong customer.

Ready to make a splash this summer?  

At Impulsiv®, we’re passionate about helping brands use the science of marketing psychology to achieve success. We offer a range of services, from crafting compelling online stores to developing data-driven marketing strategies. 

Contact us today, and let’s create a summer campaign that sizzles!

caroline-mcqueen-digital-strategist
Meet the author
Caroline McQueen ACIM
I help ambitious founders launch and scale unforgettable brands that effortlessly attract customers around the web and offline — without blowing the budget on social ads (Zuck that!) Off the clock, I enjoy Netflix marathons, French lessons, and exploring my local farmer’s market for culinary adventures.
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