Understanding the Customer

If you understand your customer and what motivates them to buy, you are well on the way to making a successful sale. Although buyers vary in shapes, sizes, moods, customs etc., they all buy for the same basic reason:  "Because it benefits them or their company to do so".
In retailing (at least), shoppers can be categorised into the following four groups:
1. Economic Shoppers
Most interested in prices, value, product quality & economic factors.
Not so interested in treatment by staff, decor of the store, location etc.
2. Personalising Shoppers
Enjoy the interaction with sales staff, preferring to shop with sales staff they know & like.
3. Ethical Shoppers
Avoid large chain stores or companies which tend towards monopolies or deal with products which are judged unethical.
Don't shop at big supermarkets because "they are putting the small man out of business"
Prefer to buy food from the biodynamic/organic shop because it hasn't been treated with chemicals. etc
4. Apathetic Shoppers
Don't like shopping, go to the most convenient supplier because they must.
Perception is Variable
No matter how you present something to customers; different people will always perceive the same marketing message in different ways. This fact can make marketing very complex.  You may think you have the perfect marketing "pitch"; but that may simply be your own perception. Ten different customers may each perceive the same message in ten different ways.
These variations in perception can be explained by Gestalt's Principles.
Gestalt regards behaviour and psychological processes as a whole i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It holds that, if you separate out the different parts which make up the whole and analyse them individually, this is not going to help explain the whole. If you want to understand what attracts consumers to buy a particular brand of soap, for example, then the Gestalt Principle would urge you to consider the whole process of bathing rather than just the product itself.
When it comes to advertising, the Gestalt Principles of Perception, also known as the Laws of Grouping, attempt to explain how we give meanings to simple visual stimuli. There are a number of main principles.    
1) Principle of Similarity
This refers to the fact that when we observe an object or design, if there is too much information then our brains tend to organise that information so that we can understand it better. To do this the brain often organises elements into groups which are similar in terms of visual content. So, for instance, we might see groups of similar items based on some observable feature. The main ways we tend to group visual items is through size, shape and colour. 
When applying the principle of similarity we are grouping similar items together because they seem to belong together. However, we only tend to do this if the following principles are not applicable. 
2) Principle of Proximity
This suggests that those elements of a composition which are close together may be seen as a group even if they are not especially similar. That is, we see closely positioned items as being more closely related to one another. Proximity may reinforce similarity amongst items or it may oppose similarity.
3) Principle of Closure
This works on the idea that we would much rather see closed figures than ones which are fragmented or have unconnected lines. Therefore, our brains will tend to fill in any blank spaces or missing parts of an image. 
This is considered to be the strongest of the Gestalt principles and it can override the others. If you imagine observing a square drawn using a dotted line, your brain will automatically work out that the image is of a square in light of the blank sections. Whilst simple shapes may be most easily recognised we also use closure to complete complex shapes - particularly if they are of familiar items or objects.
When applied to design, closure can enable the observer to feel more involved with the design through taking an active rather than passive role.
4) Principle of Good Gestalt
This implies that we have a preference for observing figures which are well rounded or symmetrical rather than ones which are less structured or messy. Although we might develop an appreciation of abstract art and images our natural tendency is to want to see well-defined images. 
These first four principles are the chief Gestalt principles and the remainder follow on from them.
5) Law of Symmetry
This law states that the mind tends to perceive objects and images as symmetrical and having a central point or axis. It is more pleasing for us to separate images and objects into an even number of symmetrical parts. If we see two symmetrical elements which are not connected then we automatically connect them so that they form a more meaningful shape. 
It follows that when we see groups of objects which are similar in size, shape or colour we are more likely to group them so that we see a symmetrical overall object. 
6) Law of Common Fate
This suggests that we perceive objects as moving along the smoothest path. In other words, we visualise a path which the object is on and which it moves along. When we view objects we group them together according to whether they are perceived to have the same line of movement. 
7) Law of Continuity
This implies that we tend to perceive parts of objects as groups which form perceptual wholes if they are aligned within the object. If two or more objects intersect or overlap we will still see them as a  single whole object so long as the parts or elements within the objects are aligned and there are no abrupt changes in direction.
8) Law of Past Experience
This law suggests that we sometimes use our past experiences to help us to categorise visual stimuli. This may be applied to reading written language. For example, the law of proximity would suggest that similar letters would be perceived together as a group. When we read an unfamiliar word we don't use the law of closure to join the letters together but we use past experience to perceive the letters as separate entities.
Marketing Psychology (Click for Details)
Get inside your customers head. Getting their attention is the starting point - and you need to be noticed if there is ever any chance of that happening.
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