Consumers would like to believe that they are in control of their purchasing choices. While consumers would say that they take price, value, and brand reputation into account when purchasing, economic and psychological research suggests that on the whole, consumers are not so rational when making decisions.

While we might believe that we make rational choices and make purchases based on logic, research shows that decision making is influenced by various outside forces and biases which subconsciously alter our rational processing. Environmental stimuli have a bigger impact on consumer decisions than marketers often take into account, and for those who want to better understand how to use environmental differences to their advantage, there are some simple ways that you can make the most of your campaign strategy according to environmental influences.

Time pressure

Professor of psychology and behavioural economics Dan Ariely in his research has discussed how time pressure, whether real or perceived, is an important point-of-purchase factor that can influence consumers’ decisions. If a customer feels they are under time pressure, they often develop tunnel vision and ignore influential buying factors, finding the product that satisfies their immediate needs, rather than weighing the costs and benefits of different brands, consumers tend to choose products based on a narrower set of features. This can be used to the advantage of certain products and brands often placed in prominent locations, such as milk brands that are placed on the most central shelf and easy to reach location.

You can market your product to be easily seen and made it the first choice for shoppers looking to ‘grab’ what they need. Make your label clear with the simple facts visually available at first glance. Your milk product should clearly state that it is ‘milk’, and other important details can be included on the back of the label or in smaller print.

It is also important to consider your product placement. If your product is in the eye line of shoppers who are in a hurry, they are likely to select your product, even at a higher price point, because they don’t have time to think about the extra costs.

Take away: Make your label bold and put your product in the premium position to get time pressure sales.


The environment we are in affects our mood, and our mood affects our purchasing decisions. Good weather has been shown to increase consumer spending on non-essential items because the extra sunlight improves our mood. Specific environments can also influence our moods, proven by the trend in making supermarkets feel more welcoming with warm lighting, soft music, wide isles and organized aisles and shelves.

However, consumers are also prone to shutting down when in negative environments, making the decision not to spend. One of the biggest influences is packaging, which can influence people to spend more on a similar product if the customer perceives that the product is more ‘environmentally friendly’ in terms of recycling. According to one study, it remains unclear why consumers choose to buy regular food in such packaging [sustainable and/or environmentally friendly packaging], especially when it is more expensive and other alternatives are available.

The mood set by a brand is not always is in control of the company, but you can make choices to better place your product, such as choosing packaging that influences consumer spending because it feels like an ‘ethical’ choice and media advertising that ensures your product is related to positively, such as milk promoted after a cereal advertisement.

Take away: It is important that as a brand you create the context when creating and testing new messaging.


The season influences the consumer spending in obvious ways. In winter, people shop for jackets and warm clothing. Nearing the end of the year, people buy gifts. At the beginning of the year, people buy gym memberships in the vain hope of keeping a promise. A University of Chicago study found that people looking to the future prefer a beverage that promotes excitement, like prosecco, while those who are focused on the present will prefer a beverage that promotes calmness, like camomile tea.

When planning your strategy, it is important to target your marketing according to not only to the seasons but also the events that are approaching, such as significant holidays and consumer events, like Black Friday. Brands should aim to take advantage of the moods that accompany such occasions and strategies to optimize sales based on that mood.

Take away: Promoting your brand during seasons should focus on a need-state strategy that shows how your product is essential during the season.