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Brand Builder Directory

The Psychology of Repeat Purchases

September 26, 2022

How much do you spend thinking about consumer psychology? A little bit, maybe?

How much time do you spend trying to move more product? Probably a lot!

Good news - customer psychology is a lot closer to the money than you’d think. If you want to encourage people to reorder, it pays to know what they are thinking.

Here’s our hypothesis: people have a different mindset depending on where they are in the customer journey. Want to nudge people towards buying again? Let’s start by understanding them & optimizing for each stage!

Stage 1. Discovery

Stage 2. Trial

Stage 3. Reordering

Stage 4. Subscription

Stage 1. Discovery

The discovery stage is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when customers are exploring your brand for the first time before they make that initial purchase.

Let’s assume customers heard about your brand somehow and then arrive at your website. At this stage, people could have a lot of questions. Besides the obvious ones like “do I want this”, they could be thinking:

  • Is shipping going to be easy?
  • Is this product high quality?
  • What do others think?
  • How does it taste/work?
  • Is it worth the price?

They may not be fully aware of it, but the reason customers are asking these questions is because they want to prevent post-purchase dissonance. In other words, they don’t want to engage with a brand if the products are going to suck. 

This is why it’s so important to build up an amazing on site experience. A shopper in the discovery phase is looking through all of it to decide whether they are going to make that first purchase or not.

What brands may overlook here: the discovery stage is where customers can discover a new routine (or discover products to fit an existing one). No surprises here - routines make reordering happen.

Harry’s Razors has this worked out pretty well. They recognized that razors are just one part of a guy’s shaving routine. So they’ve stacked the deck by bundling a few different products together in a starter set.

With their website, Harry’s is able to answer all the questions customers may have + get them into the routine mindset. By doing so, they’re successfully optimizing for a first purchase that paves the way for repeat business.

Stage 2. Trial

Here’s something to consider: every first time purchase is a trial purchase. I’m sure we can all remember buying something to try and never getting it again. What happened there?

It’s simple: we tried it and we didn’t like it. So we forgot about it and moved on with our lives.

Not everybody is going to like your products, but you can definitely improve the odds. One way of doing that is to guide customers towards variety packs and starter bundles. 

These packs and bundles are your chance to give customers multiple trials all at once. If they try everything and love it, awesome. If they pick a couple of their favorites and forget the rest, that’s cool too.

Marketing a variety pack is all about priming customers for repeat purchases. More and more CPG brands are prioritizing DTC growth. So if you can’t rely on customers walking down the aisle and grabbing another flavor, the variety pack is your tool for converting people in trial mode.

Stage 3. Reordering

You’ve done it - customers are loving your products and want more. So how do you get them to reorder? Send them back to your website to buy again. 

…not so fast! Where on your website?

Okay, send them to the product catalog. Well, that’s a page designed for people in the discovery mindset.

Fine, send them to the product page. That’s a bit better, but this is still a page designed to sell to those in discovery mode.

Customers who are ready to reorder are in a totally different headspace - so let’s treat them differently! At this stage, it’s all about giving customers the power to get what they already know they love and FAST.

Here’s a simple fact of consumer psychology: customers buy more when it’s easy. Harvard did a study and found customers can move up to 86% faster if a purchase decision is easy to make.

So if you want to make it easy for customers at this stage, don’t make them jump through hoops. Instead, put them in the driver’s seat and give them the keys!

The team at Repeat is ultra-focused on customers in the reordering mindset. We built a tool that gets people from desire to done in seconds. Here’s how:

  1. Repeat digests your Shopify order data to determine when each product is most likely to be reordered. 
  2. Each customer with a previous order is given a personalized cart link that is populated with their previous purchase history. 
  3. That link can be used in SMS or email marketing channels. 
  4. When customers click, they go to Repeat’s pre-loaded cart where reordering happens in seconds!

Here’s what that Repeat Cart experience looks like:

The beauty here is that CPG brands can optimize for the reordering mindset, but also pull on discovery levers at the same time. Note the You Might Also Like section. Suddenly re-upping becomes one-upping!

Anybody who has used the Starbucks app to reorder their favorite drink will instantly understand the power here. When you reorder, you don’t want to configure your drink again - it’s a cold brew, no ice, extra cream, and done. Now that’s possible for CPG brands too!

Stage 4. Subscription

How many customers go from discovery to subscription right away? We hope it's all of them, but it never is.

Why do people subscribe? Here are some of the bigger reasons:

  • Convenience
  • Reduced prices
  • Personalization

Those are great reasons to subscribe for people who are in the subscription state of mind. For people in the discovery, trial, or reordering mindset though?

If a customer is still “trialing” your product they will be hesitant to get it delivered on a cadence they aren’t yet sure of. That customer is more likely to reorder till they have experienced the product enough to commit to a subscription. Reduced prices also won’t mean much if they’re still figuring out what they like and on what cadence. 

If brands want to land subscribers, timing matters. That doesn’t mean you don’t run introductory subscription offers, but you should consider customer psychology at all stages.

So when are customers prime to subscribe? That’s the million dollar question! Here’s what we can say for sure: customers who love your products are far more likely to subscribe. By optimizing for discovery, trial, and reordering, subscriptions get a bump too.

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