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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

Nov 29, 2022

Today’s episode is all about the pain of paying. This episode originally aired as number 59 in August of 2019. It was formed from a paper I had found and researched before I started doing interviews on the show. I had never met or really considered connecting with the author of the main paper I reference in the episode, Ofer Zellermayer (this paper was his doctoral dissertation). In addition to having an episode on this, I included a full chapter on the pain of paying in my first book, What Your Customer Wants and Can't Tell You which came out in May 2021. 

Well, funny enough, in October of that same year, he reached out to me! He said that he had gone to search something related to his paper and found the podcast episode so he dropped everything to listen! He approved of it (phew!) and reached out to connect, which is such an awesome thing. I’m always amazed at the power of the podcast and all the relationships and connections that have come from it over the years. Remember what I said last week in episode 238 about reciprocity? Business is a long game, give freely and you will be amazed at how great things can be. 

Anyway, you may be wondering why I chose this episode for today’s refresh. For one, with the holidays upon us and just finishing up Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday here in the states, it felt like a great time to talk about the pain of paying. Buying things can feel like physical pain, and it is important to know that, but not go too over the top to compensate for it. Deals and discounts abound this time of year, and people buy differently when they are shopping for gifts. It is all interesting stuff to keep in mind as you consider your own buying this holiday, and any sales you may be running for your business. It felt like the perfect time to refresh this episode for you.

Show Notes:

  • [00:38] Today’s episode is all about the pain of paying.
  • [02:57] Buying things can feel like physical pain, and it is important to know that, but not go too over the top to compensate for it. Deals and discounts abound this time of year, and people buy differently when they are shopping for gifts.
  • [04:21] Buying things isn’t all fun and games and the process of paying for things can actually cause pain for many people. 
  • [06:14] Everyone experiences some level of pain of payment in various scenarios and those conditions tend to be pretty universal. Context is incredibly important when it comes to the pain felt making a payment. 
  • [07:09] Melina shares the reasons and continuums that impact the pain felt in a payment.
  • [09:30] The brain loves a story. This story can impact the pain felt by paying.
  • [12:28] Price is not about price. Everything that comes before the price matters much more than the price itself. 
  • [13:57] When the pain of paying is too much, people who don’t buy things that they need or want because it is too difficult to give up money are called tightwads. Those who spend too much too easily and do not feel an appropriate amount of pain before or during the spending process are called spendthrifts. 
  • [16:58] Being a tightwad is different than being frugal. Frugality is rooted in joy when saying money. 
  • [19:16] 60% of people are unconflicted, 25% are tightwads, and 15% are spendthrifts. Your biggest challenge is overcoming the 25% who are tightwads. 
  • [20:08] Tightwads are most sensitive to framing adjustments so that is where you can make a difference. Tightwads can have a difficult time paying for things with cash so make it easy to pay with a credit card.
  • [22:17] The pain was found to have less of an impact when buying what is considered virtue products than vice products. It is important to know what category your product falls into when you are looking at how to frame your message. 
  • [23:46] One of the big issues for spendthrifts is that they do not account for or intuitively understand the opportunity cost at the moment when they are getting ready to buy or they want to buy things. 
  • [25:52] Everyone will feel some sort of pain when paying. It is your job as the person selling to figure out what the buyer needs, what would benefit them the most, and then present it to them in a way that will have the last pain felt so they can actually enjoy spending the money. 
  • [27:39] For your business, think about how people interpret what they are getting. If it was not their choice are there some other areas where you can help them feel like they did make a choice so there is less pain felt in the experience?  
  • [31:26] When the pain of paying isn’t felt as much it doesn’t impact the experience as negatively. 
  • [33:51] In some ways, you are making the loss and pain much more prevalent, reducing usage by consumers, and impacting the overall experience.  
  • [35:29] The payment that is triggering pain doesn’t have to be from money, it can be time as well. 
  • [37:36] When consumption and payment are coupled together, you experience pain as you consume, it has a certain level of pain and joy associated. When you uncouple them, you experience each item separately which can increase each unless you implement them properly. 
  • [40:03] The pain of payment can be removed when the payment is taken care of before consumption. 
  • [42:12] “Strong buffering and hence reduced the pain of paying occurs when the consumer can directly connect the costs in terms of money with the benefits in terms of product or service. The ability to associate costs and benefits is just as important in physical pain.”
  • [44:26] The pain of paying was potentially completely eliminated when it was given as a gift.
  • [45:06] Melina’s closing thoughts
  • [45:26] The fact that we think about gifts differently than something we need — and that we want to spend LESS on the things we functionally NEED is so interesting.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. 

I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation.

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