What Is Consumer Psychology?

Consumer psychology involves how and why shoppers decide to buy certain products while ignoring others. Consumer psychologists study the motivation and decision-making processes of shoppers in both individual and social contexts. You could find work in this field by holding a degree in psychology, consumer behavior or consumer studies, among others. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

The Field of Consumer Psychology

Consumer psychology is concerned with how consumers relate to the goods or services offered by various businesses and organizations. As a consumer psychologist, you might help a corporation understand how consumers react to an advertising campaign or find ways to help consumers make informed buying choices. Consumer psychologists complete these tasks by gathering information through experiments, focus groups and surveys, then examining their data and drawing conclusions about consumer behavior.

Career Paths

Some consumer psychologists work in the academic realm as professors and researchers, while others hold positions as advertisers, marketing researchers or consultants for private businesses and government agencies. The amount of education you'd need varies, depending on your career goals. Research and teaching positions at universities usually require that the candidate hold a Ph.D., although you could find work as a research assistant if you held a master's degree. You also might find entry-level positions in advertising, marketing, sales or management if you held either a bachelor's or master's degree. If you're looking for a position or want to see the types of positions consumer psychologists apply for, you might visit the Society for Consumer Psychology's website.

Education Options

Schools offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in several areas related to consumer psychology, including general psychology, organizational psychology, consumer and community studies, consumer behavior and marketing. Many of these programs offer specializations or concentrations in consumer psychology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those seeking entrance into psychology graduate programs usually face intense competition.

Typical Courses

Potential consumer psychologists take courses relating to consumer behavior and the factors that influence it, including culture, diversity, peers, individual psychology and more. Many programs also feature courses on marketing and advertising topics. If you entered one of these programs, you'd probably take courses on scientific research methods and their applications as well. These courses ensure you'll use the information you'd learned about consumer psychology in a practical manner, whether you're creating solutions to consumer problems or meeting a company's marketing goals.

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