Emotions Influence What We Buy So It’s Time To Market That Way

In Brand Strategy, Brand Goals

Simon Sinek delivers this message beautifully in his well circulated TED talk: Start With Why. His argument is that people don’t buy what you do or how you do it, they buy why you do it. Many businesses continue to think about product features (the what) and how it works (the how) rather than the way the product might make a difference to my life (the why).

Psychologists have been telling us for years that emotions influence consumer behavior, that we are not rational consumers and that we are most likely to buy when we feel a humanistic connection to a product or service because of an activated memory or a feeling evoked. In fact, according to Psychology Today:

  • fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.

We only have to look back a week at the Super Bowl commercials to understand how big brands made the most of their $4.5m 30 second spot. Did Always, the pantiliner manufacturer spend their precious seconds explaining what their product was and how it worked? Not a chance. Instead they delivered a raw, emotional, inspiring homage to the strength of girls and the gender disparity in terms of perception of their abilities. A beautiful piece that no doubt had the intention of sharing with us that Always is more about empowering women than selling pantiliners. For women who saw that commercial last week, do you think they’ll be a little more convinced to choose Always in the shopping aisle when faced with a choice this week?

We don’t need the budget of a super bowl advertiser or employ Madison Avenue ad agencies to produce similar impacts in our own markets for our own products, but it does take thought, intention and a little bit of a leap of faith. After all, if you’ve advertised “triple paned windows” for thirty years, it can be daunting to switch gears and produce a commercial depicting the happy family more secure and protected in their home thanks to your product, but the science backs us up. We NEED to be more emotional with our advertising.

I’m reminded of the well trotted out analogy of “the drill and the hole”. Nobody buys a drill because they need a drill. They buy a drill because they need a hole. What’s your drill and what’s the hole that you should be talking about instead?

Are you a hotel that doesn’t have the benefit of the big brand reservations systems and their distribution? Maybe you should change your roadside sign from “Rooms: $120” to “Softest Pillows, Quietest Night’s Sleep, Wake Fresh”. After all, isn’t that the intention of the $120 room?

Consider the real reason your product or service is being purchased. Think benefit and outcome, not feature. Think emotion, not rationality; after all, if we made rational decisions there would be no Apple Computers, Mercedes Benz cars or Louis Vuitton handbags. Emotion, feeling and perception all keep these businesses alive. And very profitable. Something for us all to remember?

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