A motive is the inner state that moves, or prompts a person to action. In the words of W. J. Stanton,

“A motive may be defined as a drive or an urge for which can individual seeks satisfaction. It becomes a buying motive when the individual seeks satisfaction through the purchase of something.”

In the words of D. J. Durdian, “Buying motives are those influences or considerations which provide the impulse to buy, induce action or determine choice in the purchase of goods and services.”

William G. Carter gives a long list of buying motives such as money, vanity, acquisitiveness, rivalry, adornment, cleanliness, collecting, amusement, construction, companionship, mental culture, appropriateness, ambition, inhibitiveness, reverence, affection, tastes, sex, limitation, curiosity, self-preservation, sympathy, gratitude, patriotism, and so on.


Learn about:- 1. Definitions of Buying Motives 2. Classification of Buying Motives 3. Importance 4. Types of Motives 5. Knowledge 6. Difficulties.

Buying Motives: Definitions, Classification, Importance, Types, Knowledge and Difficulties

Buying Motives – Definitions

Behind every sale there is always a buying motive, but that motive is never merely to own the article on question. It is on the other hand, always the prospects believe that ownership of the article will satisfy some specific desire on his part. A motive is the inner state that moves, or prompts a person to action.

In the words of W. J. Stanton, “A motive may be defined as a drive or an urge for which can individual seeks satisfaction. It becomes a buying motive when the individual seeks satisfaction through the purchase of something.”

Some important definitions of motive are as under:


In the words of D. J. Durdian, “Buying motives are those influences or considerations which provide the impulse to buy, induce action or determine choice in the purchase of goods and services.”

Motive is meant for that urge, lure or the power that inspires or entices any person to act in a proper direction. It is a kind of human hunger for satisfaction of which, the man does activities.

According to Dr. R.S. Davar – “A motive is defined as an inner urge that moves or prompts a person to action.”

According to Berelson and Steiner – “A motive is the inner state that energizes, activates or moves and that directs or channels behaviour to work goals.”


We arrive at conclusion after going over properly on the above said definitions that motive is the psychological human urge that energizes a man to act. Every person does the acts according to his motive.

It is clear from the above definitions of buying motives that buying motive is meant for the powers that inspire any person to buy the goods or items.

Buying Motives – Classification (With Classification Made by Prominent Scholars)

Charles B. Roth writes that hunger, habit, sex, envy, fear, jealous, combat, curiosity, social mastery, love, vanity, ease, cupidity and personal advancement are the commons motives.

William G. Carter gives a long list of buying motives such as money, vanity, acquisitiveness, rivalry, adornment, cleanliness, collecting, amusement, construction, companionship, mental culture, appropriateness, ambition, inhibitiveness, reverence, affection, tastes, sex, limitation, curiosity, self-preservation, sympathy, gratitude, patriotism, and so on. Similarly, various other authorities like Melvin S. Hatvick, Kirk Patrick, Alfred Gross, etc. have also classified the buying motives in their own ways.

For the convenience of the study, the various classifications given by each of them are grouped into, as follows:

1. Physical, Psychological and Sociological Buying Motives:

The psychological buying motives are related to the satisfaction of basic human needs for subsistence such as satisfaction of the needs for food, shelter and clothes, and security. The psychological buying motives relates to the need for prestige or self-preservation, etc. the sociological buying motives are related to the motives that exist at present and is expected in all the social situations.

2. Acquired and Inherent Buying Motives:

The acquired buying motives are learned motives and are influenced by the environment factors. Such motives are related to socio­economic conditions and the level of education, such as economy, information, work efficiency, profit facility, quality, beauty, fashion, social presage, acceptance, etc.


The inherent buying motives are present in a person from his birth. It belongs to basic human instincts whereas the acquired buying motives are concerned with the environment. They are influenced by hunger, thirsts, sleep, leisure, security, playing entertainment, etc.

3. Primary and Selective Buying Motives:

The primary buying motives increase the general demands for products and not the specific demands for a specified product/brand. The demands for radios, TVs, cars, motorcycles, etc. fall under this category of primary motives. The selective buying motives influence for the purchase of specific brands, for instance, the demands for Bajaj’s Chetak Scooter, Onida TV, Philips Radios, etc.

4. Conscious and Dormant Buying Motives:


The conscious buying motives are such motives, which are identified by the buyer without any help from marketing functions, like advertising, personal selling or promotional tools. The conscious buying motives influence the satisfaction of presently existing needs of a customer. Such buying motives take shape within the sub-conscious minds of the customers and are not influenced by the external environmental factors.

The dormant buying motives are silent motives and do not influence the buyers until their attention is invited by the marketing functions. Thus, dormant buying motives are related with satisfaction of those needs which are created by the marketing functions. A consumer does not possess the knowledge of such needs without the persuasion of marketing activities.

5. Rational and Emotional Buying Motives:

Alfred Gross has classified the buying motives as emotional and rational.


A customer takes rational or economic buying decisions for availing at least a few of the following advantages:

(i) Where the buying is more profitable.

(ii) Where there is saving of time.

(iii) Where there is similarity/uniformity in the products.

(iv) Where the item is simple to operate.

(v) Where there are different uses of the product.


(vi) Where it saves the space in keeping the product.

(vii) Where there is economy in use.

(viii) Where the product is of good design.

(ix) Where it is a better product comparing to other products.

(x) Where the product is durable and the consumer has confidence on its durability.

(xi) Where the product is easily available.


(xii) Where the product is made as a result of high level innovation.

(xiii) Where it maintains continuity of supply.

(xiv) Where the goods are available with complete set and services facility is available.

(xv) Where it is automatically working.

Emotional buying motives influence a person to purchase certain goods or services not because of its rationality, but because of his emotion.

Lipson and Darling state that emotional buying motives are related with motives to maintain health, security, better living, power, satisfaction of ego needs, maintaining of good image in the society, acquisitiveness, curiosity, love and affection, habits of purchasing or collection of certain goods, desire to achieve economy, desire to do some creative activity, cautiousness, desire to be praised by others, desire to be seen good and attractive to be seen, etc.


According to Alfred Gross, emotional buying motives are motives of self-preservation, affection, utility, fashion, prestige, comfort, vanity, admiration, health, habit, monetary, feeling, sex, convenience, curiosity, urge to create or develop hobby, relaxation, sense organ’s gratification (touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing), jealously, etc.

6. Product and Patronage Buying Motives:

Product buying motives motivates a person towards purchasing a special products. This motive is a generated by the physical and psychological features of the product, such as design, colour, size, package, quality, price etc.

Patronage motive influences a person to purchase the products of a specific seller, dealer or a producer. If a customer is satisfied with the product of a specific seller/producer, he prefers to buy the products of that seller/producer because of certain advantages, such as home delivery of goods purchased, a reasonable price, location of the seller/shop, assortment of goods, goodwill demonstration of the product and decoration of the shop, and the good behaviour of the seller.

Prof. Copeland writes that reliability of the seller, punctuality on delivery, promptness, securing exact fulfillment of specifications, variety for selection, engineering and designing services, and dependable repairing service, etc. are the basis of patronage motive.

Classification of Buying Motives:


Buying motives have been classified differently by the different scholars.

The classification of buying motive as made by prominent scholars is as under:

1. E. J. McCarthy has explained eight kinds of motives- (i) Satisfaction of Senses (ii) Preservation of Species (iii) Fear (iv) Pride (v) Sociability (vi) Striving (vii) Curiosity (viii) Rest and Recreation.

2. According to William G. Carter, these are- (i) Money (ii) Pride (iii) Pray (iv) Yield (v) Desire (vi) Enmity (vii) Comic (viii) Cleanliness (ix) Compilation (x) Construction (xi) Feeling of Living Company (xii) Mental Culture (xiii) Ambition (xiv) Tendency to Accept (xv) Honour and Entertainments (xvi) Affection(xvii) Social Achievement (xviii) Romance (xix) Comfort (xx) Artistic Interest (xxi) Social Achievement (xxii) Sex (xxiii) Imitation (xxiv) Safety (xxv) Curiosity (xxvi) Sympathy (xxvii) Gratefulness and (xxviii) Patriotism.

3. As per Charles B. Roth- (i) Hunger (ii) Nature (iii) Fear (iv) Sex (v) Jealous (vi) Envy (vii) Conflict (viii) Social Impression (ix) Curiosity (x) Love (xi) Proud (xii) Relax (xiii) Greed (xiv) Personal Progress etc., are the main motives.

4. Melvin S. Hattwick has divided the buying motives in two parts- (i) Primary Buying Motives (ii) Secondary Buying Motives.

Primary Buying Motives are found in man since his birth. Secondary Buying Motives are learnt from society and social life.

Buying Motives – Importance of Knowing Buying Motives of Customers

Knowledge about buying motives of customers is very important, from the following reasons:

1. Success of salesmanship – A salesman can achieve success by knowing more about the buying motives of customers. On the basic knowledge of buying motives, the salesman will be able to make available the goods and services to the customer’s choice in price, quality and other specifications. This way, the customers are satisfied in a short period of time.

2. Facilitates product planning – Knowledge about the buying motives of customers facilitates product planning, by way of using appropriate colour, design, size, package, price, etc. to the product in accordance with consumer preference.

3. Facilitates pricing of product – Knowledge about the buyer motives also is helpful in pricing the product. Emotion oriented customer may be prepared to pay a higher price, whereas knowledgeable customer will be prepared to pay a reasonable price, only.

4. Facilitates to produce promotional material – Every sales organization makes efforts through promotional methods, such as advertising, sales promotion, personal selling and publicity to increases its sales. By having the knowledge of buying motives of customers, the marketing manager will be able to select appropriate promotional tools, so as to induce his customers more effectively.

5. Facilitates the selection of distribution channels – Many customers are influenced by “self-protective” buying motives and they like to purchase products from the wholesalers. This may be due to the facilities extended by the middlemen to their customers. In such a situation, the producer has to consider the buying motives of customers, before deciding the appropriate channels of distribution.

6. Creation of goodwill – Any seller or a trader can satisfy the customers by learning their habits. The customers create brand loyalty towards the products of certain producers. It is the consumer behaviour that creates goodwill of the firm and its products.

7. Efforts to make change in buying motives – Efforts can be made by learning from the buying motives of a customer, to bring changes in his motives. If the behaviour of the seller is very good, certain customers may like to purchase goods from that seller only.

Buying Motives – 11 Main Types of Motives for Buying (With Examples)

Following are the main types of motives:

Type # 1. Utility:

Every person wants to acquire maximum utility from the limited income. A knowledge pertaining to buying motives of utility is therefore, must for a seller. The success of a seller depends on time taken is setting the element of utility in the kinds of buyers. In ratio of the influence of the utility element, the item is bought.

Type # 2. Fear:

Fear is a negative motive and it is powerful. Fear is of different forms. For example, fear of death, fear of loss etc. Fear assists selling any of the items. A seller should adopt the strategies of sales promotion, advertisement etc. after proper study on the motives related to the fear.

For example, a man buys insurance policy as he fears from the death. The traders do insurance of their store or factory owing to fear of theft or fire eruption. Sale of any product is made through the motive of fear. It is clear from these examples that self-protection and protection of others are the vehement motives of purchase.

Type # 3. Desire for Money:

Almost all persons are motivated to earn money and do saving. It is the reason that every producer intends earning maximum profit by reducing cost. It is sole desire to earn money which has made busy to traders, producers, salaried class etc., throughout the day and night.

A seller having this desire can only earn the profits. He can bring forth his appeal to public with declaration that – “Buy the Bata shoe and save the money” “Buy Tata washing powder and save money”, Khaitan fan means profit bargain etc. He does efforts for the sale of his product by arousing the desire of people through these advertisements.

Type # 4. Love or Affection:

Every person is influenced by the feeling of love and affection.

Owing to the motive of love and affection, the person buys several goods. For example – a man is motivated buying a beautiful saree for his wife, the parent buy sweet, clothes and toys etc., for their children. A seller can do sale of his goods through this motive.

Type # 5. Pride:

Some persons are found proudly. Feeling of envy is largely found in the women. Every person prefers listening his false praise. On having satisfied the ego feeling, the buyer concerned becomes ready to pay more price for the goods. A seller therefore, should well known to the pride motive.

Type # 6. Fashion:

Today’s age is the age of fashion. Every buyer does efforts to buy the goods popular at a particular period of time. Fashion is the desire that follows other people. Every person wants to come forward in race of fashion being run now-a-days. An efficient seller should therefore, conversant to this motive too. For example, DCM advertisement.

Type # 7. Health:

Every person tries to make himself healthy. This motive relating to the health inspires the man for buying the items. For examples, vitamin tablets, a good diet and tonic etc. In the context of children, this motive is more important.

Type # 8. Comfort and Convenience:

Every person wants to live a life in comfort and convenience. Owing to this motive, the people purchase the items relating to the comfort and luxuries. For example, fans, washing machines, scooters, coolers and car etc.

Type #  9. Sex:

A seller is required to engage himself regarding the buying motives for the items related to the sex. The motive of buying relating to the sex contributes to a large extent in the sale of a number of items. The style of fashion may be ceased if there is lack of buying motive for sex.

The man and women buy several items with an objective to attract one another. The seller can take the benefit of the sex related motive and does bulk sale of these items. It is notable that sex has been given priority in modern age of advertisement.

Type # 10. Possession:

Every person has a usual tendency to keep the things under his possession. This motive inspires him to buy several things like a building, automobile etc.

Type # 11. Curiosity:

Curiosity is a prominent motive and it is the curiosity that motivates a number of tourists to visit and see the places of interest and it makes possible the new intentions too. The buyers under this motive buy a number of things daily. By awaking the curiosity among readers, several publishers are publishing the novels, stories and plays now-a-days.

It is become crystal clear from the above discussion that the buyers do purchase of items under buying motive in different forms. The producers, manufacturers and sellers should increase their sale after a deep study on these motives.

Buying Motives – Knowledge of Buying Motives by Salesman and by Manufacturers

From the angle of sellers and manufacturers, the knowledge of buying motives can be divided into two parts:

1. Knowledge of Buying Motives by Salesman:

The seller who is so sensitive as to grasp the buying motives of a buyer on a slight conversation can only be a successful buyer today. After getting the smell of motive in the buyer, he sells the concerned goods to him.

A salesman can obtain the knowledge of buying motive by virtue of application of following methods:

(i) By Interrogating the Buyers – A salesman can have knowledge regarding the buying motives, habits and the behaviour of buyers through interrogation viz., by raising questions.

(ii) Through Observation – A salesman can have knowledge of buying motives through an observation of personality, level of education, the dress and through the conversation with the buyers.

(iii) Knowledge Regarding the Objective of the Buyers – The salesman can ask the purpose for buying and thus, he can have an access to his buying motives.

(iv) Use of Visual Means – Sometimes, the buyers visit at the shop of a vendor and try to get information regarding the certain items. They look at the picture, look directly the item and then exhibit their interest for buying. The salesman can access to an information regarding the buying motives of the buyers through the application of visual means.

(v) Motivational Research – Motivational research is made to know the buying motives of the buyers and reasons for buying of goods in future. The salesman can try to understand the buying motive, buying behaviour and buying tendencies of the buyers with the help of these researches.

2. Knowledge of Buying Motives by Manufacturers:

As the producers and manufacturers cannot make their direct contact with the consumers and the buyers, they have to take help from motivational research in order to get information of the group or common or the representative buying motives. Motivational research and surveys are in vogue now-a-days. The conclusions arrived through them are being proved beneficial for the manufacturers.

Buying Motives – 8 Major Difficulties in Judging the Buying Motives of Customers

In spite of best efforts on this behalf, it becomes difficult to judge the buying motives of customers, due to a number of reasons, such as:

1. Illiteracy of customers.

2. Non-disclosure of motives by the customers knowingly.

3. Nature of customers – certain customers do feel shy to ask for a hair dye from the seller.

4. Multiplicity of buying motives – a study reveals 600 kinds of buying motives.

5. Change in buying motives with the change in age, income, standard of living etc.

6. Difficulty in identifying the specific buying motives as a customer may have more than one buying motive at a time.

7. Lack of contact with each and every customer due to geographical, economic or other difficulties.

8. Individual differences between persons and their buying motives.