Nov 19, 20184 min read

Using Desire to Drive Sales.


Want visitors to love your retail site? Find out how to fulfill their deepest needs and create an irresistible sales experience.

Desire is a sense of longing or hoping for a person, object or outcome.

When it comes to non-essential purchases, most shoppers would admit they are frequently driven by their heart. It’s often the subliminal ‘promise’ of what the item will do for their lifestyle, relationships or appearance that motivates the sale.

Secretly, we believe that the right pair of shoes, outfit or gadget will make us more confident, happier or more attractive.

To desire is to dream

Being able to stimulate desire, by fulfilling a deep need or creating an aspiration – is a key component of successful retail brands the world over. As consumers, we are often drawn to the ad-fuelled ‘dream’ not necessarily the ‘reality’.

Online, consumers can indulge their shopping fantasies, in private and at their leisure. No surprise that browsing is a #1 past-time for many millennials.

But desire is a fragile emotion. Any friction during the online journey can quickly shatter the illusion. Frustration soon dissipates a spontaneous desire-driven purchase, making us think twice and leading to a dropped basket.

Examining want and need

Philosophers have long held that view that human desire is the fundamental motivation of all human action. While neuroscientists argue that it is a secondary response to physical needs – like thirst and hunger.

When it comes to online retailing both hold true. We load up our virtual baskets with things that we need AND want. We may need an outfit but want it to make us look attractive. We need food but also want it to make us healthier.

To inspire desire for their products and services, retailers can use the ‘need/want’ driver in two ways – by making consumers feel they are missing out on something. Or by making them feel they will gain something. Both are equally effective.

Using desire to drive sales

So, what are our most common basic desires, what motivates them and how can retailers use this to their advantage? Here are some examples and suggestions to help enhance websites with experiences consumers will love.

  1. Curiosity – desire for knowledge
    Our brains are programmed to discover and grow. It’s why 55% of shoppers search online for reviews and recommendations before buying a product. Providing access to detailed information from sourcing, to manufacturing and ethical policies, not only fulfils the shopper’s natural curiosity but also helps reassure them about their purchase.
  2. Independence – desire for order and control
    Making the online shopping experience really simple and smooth particularly at checkout, helps make the visitor feel in control. Offering choice of payment options and financing, can provide greater purchasing freedom for shoppers with this mindset.
  3. Romance – desire to be desired
    Some psychologists, including Freud, believe that all human motivation comes down to wanting to be desired by others. Even though we know that brands use this to pull us in, shoppers are still suckers for this storyline. Young consumers in particular are heavily influenced by online content, images and endorsements that relate to how products can make them more desirable.
  4. Possession – desire to accumulate
    For many people, the very act of filling up their basket is enough to give them pleasure. They are also attracted by three for two and other volume associated promotions for the same reason. The secret is to make the checkout process as frictionless as possible so that these pleasure browsers become buyers.
  5. Acceptance – desire to be appreciated
    People need to know that they matter. It’s all to do with the attention we receive as children and the chemical reaction this creates in our brains. We spend our adult lives trying to recreate it. Rewards programmes, loyalty apps and targeted promotions, help to make customers feel valued. By making these services more personalised, retailers can lift their take-up rates and boost conversions.
  6. Connection – desire to relate with others
    We seek out, crave contact and the opinion of others. Personal interaction is one of the key pluses of the in-store environment. Online retailers can recreate this in the virtual world using live chat, avatars and reviews and linking sites to Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms where consumers can link and share.
  7. Status – desire for social significance
    We see some products as mirrors, reflecting back an image of how we’d like to be perceived. Prominently featuring brands that resonate with your audience, carry celebrity endorsement or high-profile sponsorships, helps to add kudos to your site and can increase sales through association.
  8. Security – desire to feel safe and protected
    It’s important that a website makes us feel looked after. Retailers need to constantly reassure their customers that their site is safe, that transactions are secure and that their data will not be used without their consent. The safer we feel, the freer we are to be spontaneous.  And spontaneous buyers tend to spend higher and more frequently than more rational purchasers.

1) KPMG 2017 Global Online Consumer Report