The following is adapted from Marketing to Mindstates by Will Leach.

For every moment in your life when you acted in opposition to what you thought was right, or acted without really thinking about it, you didn’t just randomly make a choice.  There is a real reason behind every single one of your actions.  Every..Single..One.

It wasn’t because you suddenly formed a new preference, stopped liking your past choices, became disloyal to your favorite brand, or found a better choice.


Every time you act on impulse or instinct, it’s almost always because of your mindstate: a temporary state of mind in which you’re under high emotional arousal and more susceptible to influence in the moment of decision.  

Marketers need to be aware of the nine “optimistic” mindstates that drive consumer behavior and how to use them to optimize their marketing.  There are nine optimistic mindstates, which means the consumer has a core motivation that is driving them, but they’re looking to maximize their chances of success when choosing their solution.

For each optimistic mindstate, you’ll see a summary statement and a few key psychological characteristics that someone in that mindstate will exhibit. For a full list of these characteristics, and how to integrate these into your marketing strategy, visit this resources page

Optimistic Achievement

man standing in front of sunset


Being successful is a goal we all share. Striving to achieve and celebrate our short- and long-term goals is a healthy part of everyday life. The anticipation of setting goals and steps taken to obtain them are part of the optimistic achievement mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Value the feeling of accomplishment that comes from overcoming obstacles to reach the final reward. In this mindstate, the process of winning is just as important as the final moment of success itself.

  • Behave by looking for opportunity, working quickly, considering alternatives, and seeking positive feedback to know they are on the right track for success.

Optimistic Autonomy

man looking at products in store


In today’s world where choices can feel overly restrictive, being free to experience life on your terms is highly desired. We all want the freedom to express our personal style and preferences in the products, services, and experiences we buy. The satisfaction we feel because of this freedom is the basis of the optimistic autonomy mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Desire tools that help them get what they want, in the way they want, in the time and place they want it. Choosing their own path or action is highly desired.

  • Believe in building/finding distinct, customizable experiences or outcomes for their seemingly unique needs. They believe that freedom and individuality come when they can act on their desires.

Optimistic Belonging

diverse team smiling

Positive, long-lasting relationships are increasingly difficult to build and maintain, so finding ways to connect with others is highly desired. This desire is often so powerful that people will go to great lengths to feel like they belong to something larger than themselves. The desire to connect and build relationships by finding similarities and joint passions with others is the basis of the optimistic belonging mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Behave by seeking social cues that help them predict their personal level of integration into a broader group and look for positive emotional expressions and physical actions from others that indicate their acceptance level.

  • Prefer novel, innovative approaches and solutions that allow them to find or build a sense of community and/or expand their social connections with others.

Optimistic Competence

man holding a camera


The feeling of becoming more proficient in an activity is an important part of satisfying experiences. For many, the desire for competency can be best achieved by focusing our efforts on maximizing our chances of successfully reaching our pursuit of excellence. The desire to improve by doing our very best to maximize on our opportunities is the basis of the optimistic competence mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Driven to feel competent by maximizing on the opportunities to exceed their own personal standards. When in this mindstate, people seek to increase their expertise in an activity to validate their core sense of personal growth.

  • Desire tools that help them become more skilled in a passion by finding ways to improve their chances of overcoming barriers to improved proficiency.

Optimistic Empowerment

women getting hands wrapped to box


In today’s world where choices and experiences feel overly restrictive, finding ways to gain greater control of one’s experience is highly desired. This desire is a result of our drive to feel empowered—to feel capable and equipped to take on life’s challenges. The desire to have greater control is the basis of an optimistic empowerment mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Value the feeling of internal strength and pride that comes from rising to an occasion on their own. In this mindstate, affirming one’s ability that they are empowered to meet an unreachable challenge is valued.

  • Believe in the freedom needed to be in control of their final outcome. They believe that through control comes greater opportunity for success.

Optimistic Engagement

Young girl smelling flowers

Feeling pleasure and excitement in our life’s activities is something we need daily. We all want to feel emotionally and physiologically engaged to bring a greater enjoyment to life. This desire to feel fully engaged in key moments and get the most stimulation out of products is a part of the optimistic engagement mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Believe in the power of being fully engaged (or lost) in the moment by ongoing pulses of novelty and unpredictability to heighten the experience.

  • Behave by looking to get the most out of the moment by focusing on the product or service and how it can help start and maintain pleasure or tranquility.

Optimistic Esteem

black businesswoman presenting to colleagues


In today’s hypercompetitive world, it is increasingly difficult to rise above the crowd. Positive recognition is often our most alluring, secret desire. Feeling popular, for even the smallest reason, helps to build our ego and self-confidence. The desire to be publicly recognized and praised is the basis of the optimistic esteem mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Driven to feel admired and valued in activities by maximizing the opportunities to be recognized socially. When in this mindstate, people seek to increase their noticeability and popularity.

  • Prefer novel, innovative approaches and solutions to how your solution will make them more recognized and admired.

Optimistic Nurturance

hispanic grandparent holding child

Some of us desire a world where people are more empathetic, cared for, and supportive of each other. This behavioral mindset is a result of our deep desire to feel protected, supported, and appreciated by the ones we love in life. The feeling of pure appreciation and love is a part of the optimistic nurturance mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Desire to make others/themselves feel deserving by finding ways to increase opportunities and ways to show that they care or are able to “right a wrong.”

  • Behave by working deliberately, has positive expectations, and seeks positive feedback from her actions. Preparing for future moments of care are also key actions taken when in this mindstate.

Optimistic Security

woman tying knot to rock climb


In today’s chaotic world, finding ways to feel more secure is desired by almost all of us. We work every day to protect the people and things we have from loss or misuse. The relief we feel being worry-free is the basis of the cautious security mindstate.

Mindstate Characteristics

In today’s chaotic world, finding ways to feel more secure is desired for almost all of us. We work every day to protect the people and things we have from loss or misuse. The relief we feel when we are free from worry is the basis of optimistic security.

Mindstate Characteristics

  • Value the feeling of peace and trust that come from having more predictability in reaching their goal. In this mindstate, stability and consistency during the process of reaching their goal is key to the overall enjoyment of their experience.

  • Believe that building predictable outcomes via expertise and tried-and-true processes are the best way to reach their goals. Therefore, brands with a track record of being honest and transparent are significantly advantaged.

Get More Mindstate Marketing Resources

While more people have become cautious after the COVID-19 pandemic, optimistic mindstates still represent a good portion of the population. To learn more about how to identify and target your customers' true mindstates, access our free resources by clicking the link below!

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Topics: Shopper, Behavioral Design, Motivation, Management