Eye Of The Shopper


Consumer behaviour is influenced by many things but nothing influences a consumer more than motivation. I’m sure a lot of you have seen the episode of ‘The Simpsons’ called ‘Scenes From The Class Struggle In Springfield’ (1996). If you can’t remember it, it is the episode where Marge Simpson buys a Chanel dress before using it to impress and fit in with Springfield’s upper class citizens. This episode clearly shows the motivation that consumers can have. If you haven’t seen the episode before: spoiler alert!

Motivation derives from needs…so cue Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!

Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_NeedsIn the image above (2009), you can see the 5 levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the pyramid. In the Simpsons episode, we now see Marge Simpson has develop a need for belonging in the upper class citizenry & esteem (through friendship and respect of/by the upper class citizenry) after an old classmate of hers (who is now part of Springfield’s upper class citizenry) taking an interest in her Chanel dress and inviting her to visit the Springfield Country Club. When the original Chanel dress Marge purchased is torn to shreds, her level of arousal reaches a point of intensity that motives her to go buy another Chanel dress in order to maintain that need.


Motives come in two forms: rational and emotional. When consumers select goals based upon objective criteria, they are motivated rationally and when consumers select products/services based upon personal or subjective criteria, they are motivated emotionally (Algie 2014).

Back to the Simpsons episode. At the beginning, we see Lisa and Marge considering whether or not to buya discounted Chanel dress. Marge is considering not to buy it due to her rational motive that not matter how much she wants the Chanel dress, she shouldn’t ‘spoil’ herself with a new dress when the rest of the family don’t have the opportunity to buy what they want. Lisa Simpson then points out that Marge never ‘spoils’ herself and should just buy something she wants for once (see image below):


This motives Marge emotionally and she decides to purchase the Chanel dress on personal/subjective criteria which in this case would include her opinion, fashion sense, financial criteria (affordability) and value determination (value for money).

Hopefully this example of consumer motivation through The Simpsons shows you how you are motivated to purchase something and what types of motivations lead you to making a purchase or not. So if you got the motivation to buy something, you’ll see it – it’s all in the eye of the shopper.


‘The Simpsons: Scenes From The Class Struggle In Springfield’, 04/02/1996, DVD, 20th Century Fox

2009, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, pyramid depicting the 5 levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Wikipedia, viewed 4 April 2014, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg.

Algie, L 2014, ‘Consumer Needs and Motivation, Personality and Self-Concept’ powerpoint slides, MARK217, University of Wollongong, viewed 27 March 2014


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