Hidden Emotional Motivators That Make People Buy

People buy a product or a service for two reasons, logic & emotion. Tapping into the latter of these, hidden emotional motivators, is key in creating copy that sells.

When people buy a car, they undoubtedly have a logical reason behind needing a car. It will get them from point A to point B. But why some people choose a sleek, shiny Porsche and others choose a bulky, durable Ford is firmly rooted in emotions.

Freudian Motivation Theory

Dr. Sigmund Freud examined this phenomenon. Apparently, he didn’t just research dreams and sex. Who knew?

Freudian motivation theory posits that unconscious psychological forces, such as hidden desires and emotions, shape an individual’s behavior, like their purchasing patterns. He mainly focused on the visual, auditory and tactile elements of a product that may evoke emotions that either encourage or discourage purchasing.

Other psychologists addressed this aspect of human behavior. Abraham Maslow developed ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ which covers other emotional and physiological motivators.

But you didn’t come here for fancy theories! Let’s get into what some of these emotional motivators are and how you can use them in your copy:


People enjoy feeling like a part of the upper crust of society. If a product is portrayed as exclusive or belonging to the upper echelon, people will be inclined to purchase it as a status symbol.

You can channel this through your copy by implying a product is “premium” or listing famous celebrities/figures who were also seen purchasing it.


You can’t put a price on having a sense of security, can you? Well, it turns out you actually can.

Buyers are always worried about being ripped off or spending their money on a faulty product. This leads them to seek out brands with trustworthy reputations or ones that are well-established in consumer culture.

You can tap into this emotion in your copy with words such as “trusted”, “proven”, etc.


Sure, given enough time and information a buyer will attempt to find the product that best suits their needs and living situations. Realistically though, no one has enough time to peruse the horde of similar items or services being offered by different companies. They want easy purchase options that will fit within their busy lives.

On-demand services and next day delivery options are good examples of this emotional motivator at work.

Implying that a product or service is easily accessible, easy to use, or easy in your copy can invoke this emotion.


Purchasing isn’t all fun and games, but enjoyable products or services are often easier to sell. Presenting your product or service as something that will be pleasurable for a customer is a reliable way to get people to buy.

This is especially true for anything that might be a buyer’s guilty pleasure. These are the things people will be willing to spend a little extra money on for a bit more luxury.

Personal Empowerment

In a world that increasingly feels out of control, personal empowerment is one of the most motivating feelings you can create in a buyer.

Can your product help someone achieve their dreams or life goals? Can it make them feel like they’re taking back even a small measure of control? If yes, be sure to highlight that in your copy.


While you will be marketing to buyers en masse, they will view your copy as individuals, not as a group. To boost sales, you can portray your product or service as an extension of a specific identity.

Your product could fit best with goth, sporty, punk, foodie, entrepreneur, etc., identities. People in that group won’t feel like they’re buying a product; they’ll feel like they’re buying something that expresses their personality.


On the flip side of the coin, fostering an inclusive and supportive community can increase sales as well. Humans are social animals and enjoy feeling included, even in the realm of business.

One great way to do this in your copy is to include testimonials or personal stories from previous customers. Another way is through creating an active social media presence and helpful online forums for the product or service.


The most primal selling emotion is fear. It has been a long-standing strategy in marketing and still proves incredibly useful today in motivating buyers.

The reason fear is so widespread and effective as a sales practice is because of its versatility. You can take any other emotional motivator and threaten the loss of them to instill fear in a buyer. From there, you just have to convince them the only way to prevent that loss is by purchasing your product.


You’ve seen the ASPCA commercials with the sad-looking dogs and cats. Aside from making you feel absolutely horrible, they are good examples of using altruism to convince people to spend.

Charities and foundations rely on this practice most, but even businesses can tap into this emotional motivator. TOMS has done so by promising to give a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased.


Envy can be another powerful emotion used to sell. This will mostly only be applicable in B2B, within a company, or in other competitive settings.

Everyone naturally feels envious when someone they know has something they don’t. Tapping into that envy in your copy usually means including words or phrases that imply unequal advantages. “Leading”, “surpassing”, and “best in class” are good examples.


Though it is often painted in a bad light, pride can be a strong and beneficial motivator.

Pride in your work might lead you to purchase only the best raw materials or never short-change your employees. Pride in your family can lead to you buying whatever tools or products they need for their goals or hobbies.

Appealing to a customer’s pride could also mean displaying the company’s pride in their products and business practices.


Pride’s twin, vanity, plays to a buyer’s larger than life self-image. This has become especially effective with the advent of social media. Where pride can be placed in any number of things, vanity is always self-centered.

Much like affluence and status, making your product feel exclusive or premier is the best way to use a buyer’s vanity. If there are any flashy memberships or loyalty programs, be sure to mention them.


Businesses have dozens of logical incentives they can use to motivate customers, but can’t appeal to hidden emotional motivators as effectively. This is where copywriters come in. We can tap into various emotions through our copy which can influence buyers and increase sales.

Practice using these emotional motivators as you continue to improve your copywriting skills.


When Do I Use Emotions Over Logic in My Copy?

Both are important to motivate buyers, but your copy will be better off using emotion to sell than logical arguments. Most people like to think they use logic and reason when coming to decisions, but more likely they are using logic to justify emotional decision making.

That isn’t to say logic has no place in your copy. Be sure to include objective benefits and rational motivators, such as deals, perks, rewards, etc., but enhance those with emotional appeals wherever you can.

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About Grant Simpson

Grant Simpson is a professional content writer with experience in SEO and B2C content. He also works as a freelance creative writer and is a published poet under the name g.c. simpson. Outside of work, he enjoys reading good books and has a cup of coffee within reach at all hours of the day.

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