Getting Religious About Customer Psychology

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Does your brand have a devoted following?

Getting Religious About Customer Psychology
Getting Religious About Customer Psychology

One of the largest, global businesses is one we don't price compare, tax, or even classify as a business: religion. 

On average Americans tithe 2.38% of their annual incomes to churches, according to a study by empty tomb inc., a Christian research and service organization that has been tracking tithing trends since 1968. That percentage equals about $93 billion a year across all religions for households tithing on a $40,000 income. To put it into perspective, the worldwide video game market—including mobile gaming and video game console and software sales—was projected to reach $93 billion in 2013, according to Gartner. 

Consider the following: The Catholic Church spent $170 billion in 2010 in the U.S. alone, according to a March 2013 MSN Money article. About $5 billion of that went to aid the poor. Compare that $170 billion spend in 2010 with Apple's 2013 gross sales of about $217 billion (Dazinfo 2013). Similarly, the fastest growing religion in U.S. history, Mormonism, generates $7 billion a year from just tithing in North America alone. The the Mormon Church also has real estate and for-profit assets well over $35 billion, according to Reuters. Since 1985 the Church has donated $1.4 billion to disaster relief; that's roughly $51 million a year out of a multibillion-dollar annual income. 

When you consider that religions don't pay taxes on multibillion-dollar incomes or have charitable requirements to meet, religion adds up to big business. Despite supplementing tithing income with gains from investments and for-profit holdings, it's essential for religious organizations to maintain a high-level of tithing obedience among faithful members and regularly convert new tithe payers. 

Psychologically humans are programmed to be faithful followers of religions. With 2.1 billion Christians, 1.3 billion Islam followers, 851 million Hindus, and 375 million Buddhists, the numbers speak for themselves. Whether part of a concerted missionary effort or not, religions offer us key elements to a rewarding human existence.  According to Steven Reiss, author of Who Am I? 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personalities, religious affiliation can be associated with more than half of the strongest human motivators. See for yourself in the list below.

1.      Power

2.      Independence

3.      Curiosity

4.      Acceptance

5.      Order

6.      Saving

7.      Honor

8.      Idealism

9.      Social connections

10.  Family

11.  Status

12.  Vengeance

13.  Romance

14.  Eating

15.  Physical Activity

16.  Tranquility

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