big ticket item

Plant Big-Ticket Items in Your Buyers’ Brains

Think about all the times you’ve had to make an expensive purchase. A new car, a house, a home theatre system, a washing machine, that $800 food processor that really can do it all…

For most shoppers, these major purchases also tend to be one-off purchases. We don’t need multiple $800 food processors, much as we may love to chop and purée. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t tempted to splurge on high-cost items every once in a while.

If your B2C brand sells pricey products, however, you don’t just want come-and-go shoppers who get their fill from a single big purchase and never come back. Loyal, long-term customers are the name of the marketing game because they drive your bottom line. But unless your target audience is comprised of multi-millionaires, your average order value (AOV) likely depends on an array of products at different price points.

Which raises the question: How can you steer customers toward your more expensive products with the hopes of boosting your AOV—and ultimately your long-term revenue? 

Although a focus on selling your big-ticket items shouldn’t encompass your entire marketing strategy, you still need a plan to market pricier products effectively.

The last thing you want to do is offer a discount on your selling price, which decreases the perceived value of your product and hits your profit margins. Nor do you want to immediately and aggressively upsell customers on your most expensive products right after they’ve made a comparatively inexpensive purchase.

Fortunately, there are other options that can help you encourage your buyers to check out your more expensive products without being too pushy. But before we get into those, let’s see how psychology can play into the way customers spend more money.

Understanding the psychology behind expensive purchases

We get it. There’s a lot of pressure to slash prices, offer discounts, and provide other perks to convince customers to choose your brand over the competition. Even as this pressure continues to intensify, the fact is using those tactics can often have a negative impact.

Turns out, products that come with a higher price tag actually make our brains believe they have a higher intrinsic quality. In turn, those products automatically get the edge over similar products at lower price points.

According to Psychology Today, when we see a higher price, our brains perceive it to be worth the extra cost because it’ll give us something better in return. Here’s another way to put it: Even if a more expensive product isn’t necessarily better than a cheaper one, by purchasing it, we take comfort in thinking we chose the higher quality, longer-lasting product.

When it comes down to it, if a product is going to make us feel more secure, more elite, or more valued, chances are we’ll be willing to pay more for it. How’s that for good news about your big-ticket items?

Now that we’ve seen how customers view more expensive purchases, here are three ideas for getting them to commit to making those kinds of purchases.

1. Target your most engaged, highest AOV customers

This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. If you aren’t already segmenting by your highest spending and most engaged customers, it’s the best way to understand which customers to target in the first place.

Start by pulling your buyers with the highest AOV and customer lifetime value (CLTV), then trace the purchases they made that got them into that bracket in the first place. With that behavioral data at your fingertips, you can then tailor campaigns across channels and devices just for them.

No more playing hide-and-seek with your customers, waiting and hoping for someone to make an expensive purchase. Thanks to the data you have, you already know the customers who spend the most money with you today. So why not ship big-ticket marketing campaigns straight to them?

We love how Spikeball uses email to promote in-person events that are targeted to customers who are most likely to attend them. Whether they’re segmenting by the region of the competition or by past attendees, Spikeball knows how to cater its messaging to the audiences that matter most.

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2. Use content to create a one-of-a-kind customer experience

Once you’ve pinpointed your target market, it’s time to once again turn to your customer data to learn what products are going to tempt them. One way to do that? Build a content strategy around leveraging bigger purchases.

How this looks will vary from brand to brand because your products and your market are unique. But more and more ecommerce sites are putting a greater emphasis on generating content that markets around their products, rather than directly to them.

Alps & Meters, a luxury skiwear brand, bolstered their content strategy by relying on storytelling, events, and experiences to upsell customers. In this example, they use content to cleverly tie in the history of down material to their own selection of products.

big ticket item

big ticket item

big-ticket item

“[This strategy] is aligned with our philosophy of telling robust brand stories in our Journal, and using dynamic content and recommendations to make them feel tailored,” said Nick Sapia, Chief Digital Officer at Alps & Meters.

Surprisingly, keeping an up-to-date blog is something a lot of ecommerce brands shy away from. But by combining luxury products with up-to-date blog posts, Alps & Meters knows its high-value customers are more likely to discover its wares when paired with the events and experiences that matter to them.

3. Recommend more expensive products to complement customers’ orders

If your ecommerce brand sells products that naturally go together, you can upsell customers with campaigns that help them “fill out” their order with big-ticket purchases.

When buying from a furniture store, for example, the likelihood that someone will purchase multiple large pieces of furniture at once may be a longshot. But if your campaigns encourage customers to fill out their room with additional pieces, you’ll be planting an image in their minds of what they could have and who can give it to them.

Wayfair expertly takes of advantage of this idea with their “Shop the Look” page. Customers get recommendations based on styles they like, along with links to Wayfair products that can help complete that look.

With this approach, there’s also an element of educating your customers. By showing customers that your brand has the expertise to help them along their buying journey, you have a better shot at getting them to make those big-ticket purchases.

Who knows what your customers like better than you, the ecommerce expert? Based on the data around what they’ve already purchased (say, a loveseat), you know what they need to really tie the room together (an area rug, perhaps). From there, you can show them the right one to buy by running a highly targeted marketing campaign they won’t be able to resist.


Final takeaway: With careful segmentation, some light psychology knowledge, and a robust content strategy that plays up on experiences and expertise, you’re going to be the smartest ecommerce marketer on the block.

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