Chapter 4: The 14 Justifiers that Give Consumers Permission to Buy
Consumers need a reason to buy things they don't need. For products deemed necessities, like milk, coffee, bread, and meat, the need itself provides permission. For things consumers don't need (i.e., discretionary purchases), they give themselves "permission" to buy by stacking various rationally based justifiers in favor of the purchase. It is the justifiers that give consumers the illusion that they are acting rationally in purchasing, but in reality, they remain driven by personal desires and emotions.
The perceived extravagance of a particular purchase usually determines how many justifiers are needed and to what extent. For example, a homeowner who wants to replace a 15-year-old sofa that is musty smelling and stained needs fewer justifiers than does one who wants to replace a 2-year-old sofa.
Justifiers are the tools that marketers use to overcome objections in the store, at the mall, at the point of sale.
In the battle for consumers' wallets, marketers need to understand how to engage them on an emotional level. They need to give customers sufficient justifiers to overcome purchase barriers. The best salespeople understand how to overcome objections to reach a sale. Unfortunately, many marketers have distanced themselves too far from the sales process. They have forgotten, or don't understand, the critical role that overcoming objections plays in the sales process.
When marketers really understand how their products play into the hearts and emotions of their customers, the judicious use of justifiers in marketing communications stacks the deck in the marketers' favor and gives consumers permission to buy.
Salespeople overcome objections interactively and in real time. Marketers must do it indirectly through marketing communications, advertisements, point-of-purchase, and the purchase offer. They must anticipate the range of objections customers may present to keep from buying. Justifiers are the tools that marketers use to overcome objections in the store, at the mall, at the point of sale. When marketers really understand how their products play into the hearts and emotions of their customers, the judicious use of justifiers in marketing communications stacks the deck in the marketers' favor and gives consumers permission to buy.
In research conducted among consumers, Unity Marketing identified an array of 14 different justifiers that consumers perceive as the underlying motivators driving their purchase of products they don't need. Pleasure, education, emotional satisfaction, entertainment, relaxation, beautify home or self, replace an existing item, planned purchase, stress relief, hobby, gift for self, and status are among the reasons consumers use to justify discretionary purchases. However, you can sum up the most important justifier for all discretionary purchases in a single overriding concept: to enhance the quality of life. One respondent described her motivation in buying discretionary items as, "products that help me be more myself." As this definition implies, people buy these products to improve and enhance the quality of their lives in all realms and aspects of their being.
For marketers of products consumers don't need, the marketing and branding challenge is to figure out how their brands and the products they are trying to sell make people's lives more meaningful, satisfying, and better. With that insight, marketers can present and reinforce the quality-of-life-enhancing message surrounding the product or brand. Quality-of-life-enhancing messages are powerful. They provide the kinetic energy that overcomes consumer objections and drives consumers to buy. When marketers do the hard work of providing the justifiers for their customers, it is amazing how this bolsters product sales. Justifiers overcome objections and compel the consumer to buy.
Figure 4.1: Justifiers for Buying Discretionary Products