How Scientists Buy: A Look Inside the Scientific Buyer’s Journey

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 3 minutes

To effectively market a product or service, you must put yourself in the shoes of your target buyers: How do they spend their time? What struggles do they face on the job? How do they determine when and what they are going to buy? 

When selling to scientists, that last question is especially pertinent. Understanding the unique process through which scientists make purchasing decisions — a process that often relies on a successful grant application — is core to your strategy for developing relevant messaging and eliciting a consumer response.

Not only must you convince scientists that your product or service is worth the investment, but in many cases, you also must help them justify the purchase to the National Institutes of Health or one of the many other grant-writing organizations that help fund their research.

Accomplishing this goal requires a three-pronged marketing approach, addressing each phase of the buying process: recognition, investigation, and assessment. By understanding each phase, you can target your message accordingly.

1. The Recognition Phase. 

Scientists recognize they have a need. They see an opportunity for value in buying a product or service. But sometimes that need is buried deep within them, lying dormant. It’s your job to awaken that need and create desire. The optimum way to spark that desire? Awareness.  

Through product awareness, you make scientists realize that they’re missing out on potential value by not having your product. Instead of making a hard sell, activate your audience’s curiosity.

Marketing vehicles: Print advertisements are great tools for raising product or brand awareness. When placing ads, target credible publications most frequented by your audience.


2. The Investigation Phase. 

Scientists recognize they want or need to make a purchase. Now they hypothesize the best way to satisfy their need. Where will they turn when looking to test a hypothesis? Credible information. 

Educate your audience in a non-biased way. Inform the consumer further on the issue, while framing each piece of content in a way that impartially builds a case for your product.

Marketing vehicles: White papers or webinars can be extremely effective methods for education. Contributing editorial commentary pieces or social media posts that showcase your thought leadership also strengthen your reputation and build brand trust.

3. The Assessment Phase. 

After scientific consumers recognize their need and educate themselves on the topic, they’ll begin assessing products in the marketplace. Here, you are finally able to persuade the consumer that your product reigns supreme. Focus on why your product is better than what the competition offers; emphasize the value your product creates.

Given that many researchers require grant funding to make their purchases, provide information that will help justify the expense when crafting grant applications. These applications can be time consuming, so scientists will appreciate anything you can do to simplify this process. Frame your product not as a cost, but as an investment. Clearly communicating a defined value will give you the best chance at persuading your audience.

Marketing vehicles: Targeted digital advertisements with strong calls to action often prove effective at making the hard sell. Be sure your product landing page is intuitive and fully functional, ensuring no lead falls through the cracks.

A deeper insight into the scientific buying process can help make your marketing messages all the more potent. Scientists respond best when messaging is crafted through their viewpoint.

To learn even more about your audience, download the latest white paper: How to Make Your Message Bond with Scientists at

Recognizing that scientific thinking is a constant battle between innate curiosity and relentless verification, your approach must both captivate the scientist’s interest yet also be undoubtedly credible so that it satisfies the needs of a grant-writing organization.


We want to hear from you:

In what ways have you found the buying process for scientists differs from the typical consumer? Reply below in the comments section.

Keywords: , , , , , ,