What is it that makes a consumer choose a particular product over others in the market? This is a question that many in the world of marketing have been trying to answer. While some have theorized and come up with possible answers, many others have been eluded by this question.

The Science Of Why (2015) by David Forbes, provides guidance to understanding consumers, their buying habits, and provides tools that can help gauge what motivates different types of customers to choose. It is a guide to many who want to rethink their marketing strategies and focus on understanding marketing with a greater depth and perspective.

The MindSight Matrix

The MindSight Matrix is a problem-solving marketing tool that enumerates the different motivational factors that drive consumers to buy. It helps marketers understand what is wrong with their strategies and what should they do to ensure that their products get chosen.

The MindSight Matrix has one main force that drives action, viz. a desire for change. It points out to what kind of change a customer desires when they make a purchase, whether it is a person looking for a gym membership, or an elderly lady looking for comfortable shoes.

Desired change has 3 main categories – experience, expectation, and outcome.

  • Experience – An experience refers to the desired change a customer looks for in the present moment.
  • Expectation – Expectation refers to the desired change a customer seeks for their future. Marketers need to give customers a vision of how their product will open up new opportunities for them in the future.
  • Outcome – Outcome is the degree of satisfaction a customer gets with their past buying decisions.
The Science Of Why (2015) by David Forbes
The Science Of Why (2015) by David Forbes

In addition to the desired change, the MindSight Matrix also identifies three types of motivations – Interpersonal motivation, instrumental motivation, and intrapsychic motivation. To understand what motivates customers to buy, marketers have to specify where the change occurs.

For example, change is either internal, which focuses on how a customer feels about or perceives themselves, and outward-directed change refers to a change that a customer desires in their outward appearance or physical surroundings. 

Intrapsychic motivation drives all internal change, whereas outward-directed change depends on instrumental or interpersonal motivation. Let us delve deeper into the types of motivations.

Intrapsychic, Intrapersonal, And Interpersonal Motivation

To begin with, the three types of desired change interconnect the three types of motivations. Therefore, we can get nine different motivation-change combinations that drive buying behavior.

  1. Intrapsychic Motivation

Intrapsychic motivation propels purchases that reflect on how a person feels about himself or herself and what they want to say about themselves. 

For example, if we look at a target market of single mothers managing careers as well as children. Their focus lies in wanting to make healthy food choices for children, as well as enjoy stress-free fast cooking, without resorting to unhealthy fast food. Therefore, a company selling frozen food should target its marketing campaign on the healthy and stress-free characteristics of its product.

Intrapsychic motivating factors that focus on internal feelings make customers difficult to satisfy. This is because only the customers know what their personal internal desires are. Marketers should respond to the intrapsychic motivations of making the mother feel good when she makes her decision to buy their healthy, yet stress-free products. They should focus on how their customers will feel about their products.

There are three types of customers that are driven by intrapsychic motivation – security-oriented, identity-oriented, and mastery-oriented.

  • Security-oriented Customers – Security-oriented customers seek safe, reliable, and secure relationships with the products and brands they choose. These customers are not affected by changes in price or quality and focus on the fact that their chosen brand always delivers and provides the safety and security they seek. For example, mothers who buy a particular brand of baby food make their choices based on the safety they feel of that brand.
  • Identity-oriented customers – Identity-oriented customers make buying choices based on the prestige and social status that brands confer upon them. They make identity associations with brands. For example, women who only buy cosmetic products from a Gucci, or men who drive Lamborghinis, make their purchases because the brands reflect who they want to be.
  • Mastery-oriented Customers – For mastery-oriented customers, brands are as important as they are for identity-oriented customers. However, the difference is that they make buying decisions to please themselves, irrespective of the fact that the brand gets then social recognition or not. These customers buy certain brands to master themselves, their hobbies, or their passions. They choose products that of high quality, professional-grade, and innovative. For example, chefs swear by certain brands of utensils because they are the best in the market and help them make professional-grade food.
  1. Instrumental Motivation

Instrumental motivations are shaped by outcomes and thus affect buying behavior. These customers look for the best products in their category; the ones that are most effective and efficient. Such customers will spend time researching a product before making their buying decision. They will get irritated if the product wastes their time by not providing what the box claims. These customers are also the ones who will go through the efforts of leaving bad reviews if they are not satisfied.

On the other hand, instrumentally motivated customers appreciate precise information and respond best to honest, simple, and authentic marketing campaigns. The success of dove’s ‘real beauty’ campaign appealed most to instrumentally motivated customers. The campaign appealed to women that there is beauty in simplicity. It made women realize that they don’t need luxury cosmetics to realize that they were beautiful just they were.

The three types of customers that are driven by instrumental motivation are – empowerment-oriented customers, engagement-oriented customers, and achievement-oriented customers.

  • Empowerment-oriented Customers – Empowerment-oriented customers buy products only when they are sure that they will help them perform better. Their focus lies on improvement and success and gets most influenced by campaigns that use encouraging slogans.

For example, slogans such as “Unlock your true potential” can help such customers know that their range of skills can improve with the help of the product.

  • Engagement-oriented Customers – While these customers focus on improvement as well, their wants and needs are dictated by innovation, and whether a product wins them the race of owning the best, advanced product before others.

For example, ads and marketing campaigns that stimulate senses by putting new sounds, experiences, and sensations on show attract engagement-oriented customers. Such customers are drawn to the overall, great experience that a product offers them. Customers who are loyal to certain brands of smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone are examples.

  • Achievement-oriented Customers – These customers are the most difficult to influence and entice. They are competitive by nature and need a product to be challenging rather than simply entertaining. Such customers need to be targeted subtly, yet with a hard-hitting slogan that makes them feel proud to be associated with the product. Maybelline’s “because you’re worth it” slogan achieved this effect.
  1. Interpersonal motivation

Interpersonally oriented customers thrive on fostering strong relationships with brands, products, stores, or even the salesperson. Their need for loyal relationships and a sense of community and inclusion in brands drives them to make buying decisions. Therefore marketers who wish to tap into interpersonally oriented customers should focus on making them feel valued, like a part of the family. Once they feel that loyalty, nothing can deter them from choosing that product.

Some interpersonally oriented customers seek nurturance and look for brands that show care for their wellbeing. On the other hand, some interpersonally oriented customers seek to be a part of a reference group in society. They don’t care much for brand names. For example, bikers will tend to spend more on gear and products that will help them identify with serious bikers in their community.

Such customers often have low self-esteem motivations and buy products to fit within their community. Contrary to low self-esteem customers, high self-esteem customers choose products that enable them to be role models within their reference groups. Therefore, slogans such as “Be the example” will appeal to their strong values, making them buy the product.


Marketers and brands should focus on evaluating the types of customers they want to appeal to. Applying the MindSight Matrix and understanding what motivates their target markets will help them craft out truly successful marketing campaigns, ensuring that their products fly off the shelves!