Consumer Behaviour vs User Experience

5 Common Misconceptions About UX

When we talk about User Experience (UX) we are referring to a person’s emotions, motivations, behaviours and attitudes towards using a particular product, system or service within a specific environmental or societal context. In a modern day digital age UX has been applied mostly to human-computer interactions (HCI) such as apps and websites.

Consumer Behaviour on the other hand is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impact that these processes have on the consumer and society. Essentially consumer behaviour is a core construct utilised in understanding how people’s behaviour drives their choices and decisions and how marketing can tap into these key habits and behaviours to bring about some behavioural change.

Consumer behaviour and UX are often at odds because of differences in goals, approaches and the presumption that the two things are completely different services.

Both provide pathways to interacting with potential consumers, and marrying the two schools of thought is the next step in HCI optimisation for businesses and governments to bring about positive change among targeted demographics. Utilising the power of consumer behaviour and combining it with well placed strategic user interface (UI) design can greatly enhance the delivery of powerful messages and marketing efforts.

But how can we design UIs to ensure we implement both consumer behaviour and great user experiences?


In the last article in this series we talked about MINDSPACE and its application in marketing and consumer behaviour. Using the MINDSPACE model we can seek to change people’s behaviour by changing their contextual cues. If we change the ‘choice architecture’, then we can change people’s behaviour. MINDSPACE can then be used as a checklist for anyone interested in changing behaviour, including UX designers. 

M – Messenger

I   – Incentives

N – Norms

D – Defaults

S – Salience

P – Priming

A – Affect

C – Commitment

E – Ego

To put this in context let’s look at a possible application:

The most practical way to utilise the MINDSPACE model is to use it as a checklist to see what key heuristics of the framework are most applicable. Below we have used the example of designing a shopping centre experience:

Messenger – We are heavily influenced by who communicates information.

Using ambassadors or popular figures when promoting a customers shopping experience can heavily influence a person’s perception of the shopping mall and their willingness to go there.

IncentivesOur responses to incentives are shaped by predictable mental shortcuts such as strongly avoiding losses.

When designing a shopping mall, incentives can be strong motivators that lead to desired behaviours. For example offering 3 hours of free parking or offering activities for children can strongly influence a persons willingness to go to the shopping centre.

Norms – We are strongly influenced by what others do.

Because we are influenced by what others do, creating platforms or ways for people to promote or display their behaviours to others can be very influential. For example, in the context of a shopping centre, creating social media campaigns where people check in at the mall or post their activities at the mall will reinforce the behaviour of going to the centre.

Defaults – We go with the flow of a pre-set of options.

By following a pre-determined set of default options people are more likely to follow the pre-determined flow of options and follow a set of desired behaviours. A great example is Ikea; their stores are designed for you to follow a specific path leading through every element in the store.

Salience – Our attention is drawn to what is novel and seems relevant to us.

By creating strong visual cues in the environment we can capture people’s attention and either make things easier for the customer to experience or push customers towards interacting and engaging with different elements in the environment. A great example is the piano staircase, where people could play piano keys while climbing stairs, moving people away from taking the escalator and take the stairs instead. Check out the video! (

Priming – Our actions are often influenced by subconscious cues

Using subliminal visual and language cues can be quite powerful in impacting human behaviours. When designing think about how your language and visual cues can promote specific aspects of an environment. For example: Priming people with subliminal visual, auditory and written cues aimed at making people feel relaxed, stress free and comfortable can lead to customers feeling more at ease and spending more time wandering the shopping centre.

Affect – Our emotions are powerful in shaping our actions.

Creating emotional content or strong emotions associated with conducting certain actions can be a powerful tool in driving specific behaviours. In our shopping centre example we could think about creating an emotional response, be it fun, heart warming, funny etc. when designing specific elements. For example, decorating shopping centres during the Christmas holidays to evoke positive feelings elicited by the holidays, can be a powerful motivator for people to go to the shopping centre.

Commitment – We seek to be consistent with our public promises and reciprocate acts

Trying to get people to buy in and generate a stronger commitment to an organisation or a cause is quite common and can be a strong incentive for customers creating strong loyalty and customer retention. In the example of shopping centres producing loyalty cards or discount cards can help raise the level of commitment customers have to the shopping mall.

Ego – We act in ways that make us feel better about ourselves.

Creating opportunities for people to feel better about themselves while shopping can be a powerful tool in driving more people to shopping malls. For example endorsing donations“for every $ you spend in our shopping centre, we will donate X to this NGO or community group” will make people feel better about attending the shopping mall and promote that behaviour.