help reduce insecurity

16% of purchasers want to feel special

This is the fifteenth of 20 daily THOUGHTS examining emotions in marketing.

A recent survey in the United States found that 16% of consumers make purchases because they want to feel ‘special’. A further 11% make purchases because they want to feel that they ‘know it all’. They want to prove how clever they are.

This highlights not just the irrational nature of consumers, but, also the insecurity felt by many human beings. This is reflected in a need to feel special, more important, or smarter than others.

Many of the world’s most significant problems can be traced back to insecurity and the need to feel special. One might argue that Hitler acted out of insecurity. I would argue that Trump acts out of insecurity – something reflected in his frequent self-congratulatory remarks. I would also argue that many fights, arguments, arrogant outbursts, and the propensity to pontificate, are further reflections of insecurity.

One of the six most significant drivers of purchase behaviour is ‘certainty’. Human beings crave certainty. Certainty is almost the opposite of insecurity. With security comes certainty, and with insecurity comes a lack of certainty. Both insecurity and the absence of certainty are significant drivers of consumer behaviour.

Think about a time when you went to purchase a complex product like a car, a house, or a computer and your questions were answered in a way that reflected a lack of knowledge on the part of the salesperson and left you feeling uncertain about which of the available options would be best for you. Did you make the purchase, or did you go somewhere else where you felt more secure? Strategies to help consumers feel secure include:

  • Overt transparency
  • Informed staff
  • High-quality information

The research at the beginning of this thought suggests that people want to feel special or clever. More often than not, this reflects an insecurity on their part. People who accept who they are and feel secure in their own skin do not need to be made to feel special. They are happy with who they are.


Human beings are insecure animals. Putting in place strategies that make them feel secure in making a purchase-decision will encourage them to make those decisions.

While insecurity is often irrational. It is real.

The need to feel special and clever is also irrational . In order to be meaningful, those feelings must come from within. Nevertheless, many consumers want to feel special and clever. Given that it is difficult to know who needs this and who does not, the safest bet is to make all customers feel special. And, by the way, it costs nothing.


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