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The Only 4 Reasons Why People Buy

April 2nd, 2010 by Bob Bly

In his Target marketing column (4/10, p. 34), Denny Hatch notes that there are only 4 reasons why people will buy from you:


Of these, exclusivity is the most enviable position to possess.

“If you can move your business into exclusivity, you have no worried about price, service, and competition,” writes Denny.

Can you think of any other motivations to add to Denny’s list of 4 reasons to buy?

Are you in a business that offers something exclusive?


This entry was posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010 at 3:16 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

73 responses about “The Only 4 Reasons Why People Buy”

  1. Joseph Ratliff said:


    People do buy on impulse, “oh, yeah, I can use that, let’s buy it.”

  2. Kathleen K. O'Connor said:

    Approval. I have noticed that in the world of social media, people choose to do business with one person over another because that person has influence. They think that by becoming someone’s customer, they may be accepted into that influential person’s inner circle.

  3. Kevin said:

    How about status? Next week several consumers will buy the new Apple iPad just because they will be the first one on their street to own one.

  4. Phil Wrzesinski said:


    How many times do you buy milk at the gas station because it’s easier than making an extra trip to the grocery store?

    Heck, we have a whole category of stores called Convenience Stores. Denny should know this. Even Target has toyed with the store-within-a-store format.

  5. Greg said:

    Some people buy to enhance their image.

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  8. Jay Gilmore said:

    People purchase for all sorts of reasons.

    -To feel superior or for ego. Exclusivity can fall into this category but not necessary. Much like someone buying a Hybrid Car.
    -To feel sexy.
    -To look younger.

    If I recall correctly there are literally dozens of buyer motivations listed out in Jay Conrad Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing books.

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  10. Bob Bly said:

    These are great replies. I think Denny missed a bunch in his article!

  11. Ryan said:

    How about a survey on why people won’t buy from you again. I’ve bought many times from businesses that will never get my business again. They usually reflect #2 or #3 poorly but usually it is because of the way I’m treated.

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  12. Hans de Groot said:

    Another one is ‘cost of ownership’ or the sum of the purchase price and all other costs during the lifetime of the product (or system) like energy consumpution, maintenance, service etc. If your prices are relatively high, the cost of ownership can be a very good sales argument.

  13. dava said:

    People also buy because they like the person doing the selling. That is especially true when it comes to social media – and the reason relationship building is so important.

  14. Marie said:

    Those are great tips.

  15. Scott said:

    Nobody mentioned need. I could find a great bra that was one of a kind for a great deal.

    Do I need it?

    Here’s another. Listen for a minute. The old school approach is so narcissistic (hey I’m X, from Company Y we are the guys that do X).

    Is there any other place in your life where that works. My favorite is when a sales person is shopping and says “don’t try that on me, I’m a salesman too.” It’s like honor among thieves.

  16. Andrew Market said:

    The fifth one is “Need”, the great innovators are those who compel the customers to buy a thing even they don’t need some times. Suppose people eat chicken recipes but chicken cubes are a thing people just buy to enhance the taste even they can eat without it.

  17. Siddharth said:

    I think there is some confusion in the original statement. Probably what Danny Hatch meant was the USP that you offer – why should people buy from YOU? Either

    – you quote the lowest price
    – you give the best service in your class
    – you have the top quality
    – you are the only one that does the job (or does it well, at least)

    In that sense, the four mentioned variables pretty much cover the entire ground.

  18. Bob said:

    These might play into other reasons, but don’t forget

    – Ease (make it easy to use/buy and they’ll come)
    – Speed/Quickness (fast food, 1 hour photo)

  19. MLM said:

    Very true-I think these are the reasons why people buy…
    Good post.

  20. Cupola said:

    Seems to be more of the four ways you can position your business, people buy for many reasons – many of them listed here

  21. Kenny Atcheson said:

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  22. Codrut Turcanu said:

    Yes, here are my 2 cents… no matter your price, service, quality or exclusivity if they don’t want what you offer.

    Want is the #1 reason people won’t buy it from you. What do you guys think?

  23. Alla Goltsman said:

    What about scarcity? I have reasons to believe that nobody buys being motivated by scarcity. It’s a complete turn off for me. As soon as I feel pressure, I stop thinking about the offer. But I know, I should not pass judgement. I also know that the best copywriters use scarcity freely. Does anybody have thoughts similar to mine?

  24. flyingcows said:

    Nice tips Bob, it’s interesting to see how people behave during buying decisions.

    Could I say personal branding as exclusive?

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  28. Jackie said:

    If you don’t have money, you’ll definitely be a price conscious person. You’ll check first all the stuffs that you need to buy before you actually buy it. However, for some who always have budget for everything, they are after of the quality of the product.

  29. Sam Jones said:

    Because of our current situation, most people are price conscious. Their priority is to buy all their needs before their wants. But most people are still looking for a cheap high quality product or service.

  30. Greg Cart said:

    I personally look for the quality of the product or pay for the quality of service. At least you can give yourself an assurance that you will be able to get what your money deserve.

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