Why We Buy: Behaviour is the Science


  • Robin Albin, SVP Conceptual Innovation – Estee Lauder
  • Ujwal Arkalgud, Co-Funder – MotiveIndex
  • Jason Partridge, Co-Founder – MotiveIndex

Description: What motivates your consumers to purchase? Ethnographic research and behavioural psychology allows you to place yourself in the mind of your consumer. Ujwal Arkalgud and Jason Partidge are co-founders of MotiveIndex, a consumer research company that provides valuable insights which allows you to gain a much deeper understanding of consumers.

Joining them is Robin Albin, Senior Vice President of Innovation at Estee Lauder. Robin is brand innovator and change agent who has an insatiable curiosity about people, culture, and trends.

In this session, they explored why people make decisions based on shared beliefs and not rational needs.

Robin Albin, Estee Lauder

Top 3 Session Takeaways:

Both Ujwal and Jason use water as an analogy to go beyond the surface and dive deep into what makes these customers purchase. They’ve come up with a model to describe the four layers of an insight. Robin builds on that model and uses examples of why this works in our everyday life.

1) Force yourself beneath the surface. It’s in our instinct to stay above the water. and so we have trouble going beyond that. The problem with staying above the surface is the lack of new information. The behaviour and alibi layers are easy to figure out. Consumers are willing to share what they think about the product. But it takes much more to understand how their fear and belief plays into the buying process.

Layers of Insight

Behaviour: Action taken by the consumer

Alibi: Excuse/ reason why consumers do these things

Fear: Insecurity that causes a cognitive dissonance

Belief: Lens through which we see the world around us

Both Ujwal and Jason have come up with questions to guide your company below the surface and uncover these layers of insights.

2) Focus groups are an artificial construct. Contrary to what most think, focus groups just confirm what you already know. It’s not the place to find out what really makes consumers do what they do. Methods of uninterrupted observation provides valuable insights because you get to pick up on the subject’s actions and uncover the reason behind them.

3) Find the right problem. People don’t know how to focus on the right issue. Brands often compete on features and not the “why”. But that isn’t enough to make your product successful. By getting to the centre of it all– the why– you’ll be able to uncover other artifacts in the system like fear and the belief.

Insights is everything. Go beyond the surface and really understand why consumers behave. Because in those insights, there lies opportunities of innovation and big ideas.


About Anne Servidad

After working for a business incubator, she discovered her love for two things-- marketing and tech startups. While on her entrepreneurial journey to learn more about the two, she often gets sidetracked and binge watches shows on Netflix.

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