Consumer Psychology Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Consumer Psychology?

Consumer Psychology is the study of human behaviour regarding their buying patterns, customs and preferences in relation to consumer products including their reactions and preferences to advertising, packaging and marketing of those products. Consumer psychologists investigate how the decision-making process, social persuasion, and motivation influence why shoppers buy some things but not others.

Consumer psychology refers to the processes used by clients and customers to select, purchase, use and discard products and services. In the business world, consumer psychology research helps firms improve their products, services and marketing strategies in order to bolster sales.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Consumer Psychology courses in the following subject areas:

  • Diploma in Consumer Psychology – Gain insights and analysis of the key individual and group orientated factors that drive consumer consumption, addressing the question of why consumer behave as they do.
  • Diploma in The Psychology of Retail & Consumer Behaviour – The study of the theories developed in psychology and how they relate to various marketing concepts.
  • Advertising & Marketing Diploma – Develop the essential, digitally relevant skills for the world of advertising, copywriting and marketing communications.
  • MSc In Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour – Develop distinctive psychological skills for the diagnosis of specific aspects of organisational behaviour and functioning such as training, decision-making, restructuring, problem-solving and job design.
  • Diploma in Sales and Marketing – Develop skills and techniques to effectively function within the areas of sales and/or marketing.
  • Master of Science (MSc) In Marketing – The study of advanced marketing and practices of marketing within the digital media arena.

Studying Consumer Psychology in college

There are many Consumer Psychology courses that take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

While a specific major isn’t required on the undergraduate level, a bachelor’s program in psychology can provide a solid foundation in general psychology and human behaviour, as well as an introduction to research methods.

In particular, students might look for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology program with a business option, which typically includes relevant classes in communication and marketing. Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or volunteering to help with marketing or advertising campaigns. Reach out to agencies in your area and find out if they offer work experience positions or internships. Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Consumer Psychology you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of consumer markets and research.

As a consumer psychologist in the retail industry, you will combine sound psychological research methodology with business knowledge and creativity. You may be working for a corporation, an advertising agency, a marketing research firm or you may contract yourself out as a consultant. Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The hours are usually full time, Monday to Friday. You should expect to work some evenings, and although weekend or shift work is uncommon you may need to work long hours to meet deadlines.

Related jobs include:

  • Advertising Manager
  • Media Coordinator
  • Research Analyst
  • Product Developmental Consultant
  • Sales Representative
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Advertising Manager
  • Marketing Executive

Further study

After completing a course in Consumer Psychology you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as Product Development, Product Research and Marketing.


How does Consumer psychology help a business?

Consumer Psychology involves finding answers to a wide range of questions for businesses, including:

  • How do consumers select between competing brands, and what makes them choose a particular option?
  • How are consumers influenced by factors in their environment, including media and culture?
  • How do consumers behave when shopping on the high street?
  • What factors make a consumer switch brands?

The answers to these questions and many more, help businesses make changes to their products and marketing strategies so that they become more attractive to consumers.

What are the 4 types of customer buying behavior?

There are four types of consumer buying behaviour:

  • Complex buying behaviour

Complex buying behaviour is encountered particularly when consumers are buying an expensive product. In this infrequent transaction, consumers are highly involved in the purchase decision. Consumers will research thoroughly before committing to investing.

  • Dissonance-reducing buying behaviour

In dissonance-reducing buying behaviour consumer involvement is very high. This might be due to high price and infrequent purchase. In addition, there is low availability of choices with less significant differences among brands. In this type, consumers will be forced to buy goods that do not have too many choices and therefore consumers will be left with limited decision making.

  • Habitual buying behaviour

Habitual Buying Behaviour is depicted when a consumer has low involvement in a purchase decision. In this case, the consumer perceives only a few significant differences between brands.

When consumers are buying products that they use for their daily routine, they do not put a lot of thought into the process. They either buy their favourite brand or the one that they use regularly – or the one available in the store or the one that costs the least.

  • Variety seeking behaviour

In variety seeking consumer behaviour, consumer involvement is low. There are significant differences between brands. Here consumers often do a lot of brand switching. The cost of switching products is low, and hence consumers might want to try out new products just out of curiosity or boredom. Consumers here, generally buy different products not because of dissatisfaction but mainly with an urge to seek variety.

Where can I study Consumer Psychology?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • In 1930, the average American woman owned 9 outfits. Nowadays the average American woman owns 30.
  • 25% of people who have two-car garages don’t have space to park their cars.
  • Limited availability of certain items can create an obsession with the items, such as KFC’s “Double Down” and McDonald’s “McRib.”
  • A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related rather than price or product-related.
  • Bundling products together increase sales as long as consumers have the option of buying the products separately.
  • An average child will accumulate 238 toys by the time they are 10 years old. They will only play with about 12 of them.

Mariza Halliday

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