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Emotional Buying

Understanding Our Panic-Buying with Neuroscience

The Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic is at the top of the news around the world. Consumers are emptying store shelves, stocking up on bottled water, bread, milk, and toilet paper. This health crisis has given us a glimpse of how consumers buy on emotion.

Emotional Buying Coronavirus Epidemic Panic Shopping

Many studies have demonstrated how strong emotions can make us very irrational. For example, a group of volunteers was asked this question: How much would you pay to avoid a 99% chance of a painful, short electric shock? The average amount was about $10. Another group of volunteers was asked how much they would pay to avoid a 1% chance of getting an electric shock. Surprisingly, the average amount was about $7, not much less.

When fear runs high, the probability of 1% is not much different from that of 99% in our emotional brains.

Even though the chance of getting infected by the coronavirus is very low, our emotional brains simply ignore that fact.

How Our Emotions Overpower Rational Thinking

Neuroscientists, psychologists and economists have identified about 200 human cognitive biases that often cause people to behave irrationally. Some of those ingrained tendencies can help explain panic-buying behavior.

Here is a 17-minute TED Talk on Why Consumers Buy on Emotion

During this panic-buying frenzy, we should ask ourselves these questions instead.

Our Decisions in Emergencies Are Emotionally Based

While it’s only natural to be irrational in an emergency, Neuroscientists have learned that almost 95% of all our decisions are made emotionally and intuitively. Very often, we make irrational decisions without our awareness. We love to follow the crowd so we feel safe.

The coronavirus epidemic has given some valuable insights into consumers’ buying decisions.

The emotional, irrational decision-making is amplified during this trying time. It is important develop the awareness of our unconscious emotions and biases.

That awareness may stop us from joining the hoarding crowds and reduce our chances of getting infected by COVID-19.

How Consumers Make Buying Decisions – Neuroscience has revealed that most of our decisions are driven by emotions, feelings and intuition. That is clearly seen through the panic buying during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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