Positive energy! How emotional marketing wins the hearts of customers

Nobody buys rationally. Emotions are usually what wins the hearts – and wallets – of customers and forms a strong bond with a brand. Here, we explore why emotional marketing works so well.

If a marketing campaign already triggers positive emotions in the originator, it is likely to achieve its goal as emotional marketing.
Image: © Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock

What is emotional marketing?

Emotions are everything when it comes to communicating with customers. That is precisely what neuromarketing is all about, which uses emotions to successfully position brands. The aim of emotional marketing is to market products or services through the targeted triggering of sensations and feelings in the recipient and establish a long-lasting, positive relationship between the brand and customer by regularly reigniting this state of emotion.

Emotionalizing a brand means making it tangible, approachable and believable to customers, so that they unconsciously develop an emotional connection with the brand. This requires an emotional story that encapsulates the feeling that customers are meant to associate with the product. In the context of emotional branding, we call this storytelling.

Why does emotional marketing work so well?

Ever since the invention of billboards, smiling, laughing faces have been adorning every street corner, later, they started appearing on our theater and television screens, and nowadays, charismatic and likable influencers share their – supposedly authentic – product experiences online.

All over the world, marketers today still draw on the power of emotions. Automobiles and cigarettes stand for freedom, beer represents socializing with friends, and soft drinks and candy embody fun, activeness, and a thirst for adventure. We already learned this as children – because that’s what advertising taught us. And it still manages to convey the same message today with exactly the same themes and narratives. Whatever the marketing form, channel, product or target group, emotions sell and have a lasting impact on brand perception. Why is that?

Emotions are deeply rooted in our memory and evoke permanent associations that remain present all our lives. Surveys have revealed that customers usually base their product decision on rational considerations and deliberations relating to the product’s benefits, efficiency, or price. In actuality, consumers only go through this apparently rational thought process after they have already long been emotionally influenced, either consciously or even unconsciously, which is frequently the case. This phenomenon forms the foundation of neuromarketing, which draws on the theory that economic decisions are largely based on unconscious processes and that the majority of human decisions are more strongly determined by emotions than rational thinking.

Emotional marketing as a success factor

In the B2C segment, the proportion of purchasing decisions said to be driven by emotional motives fluctuates between 80 and 99 percent. Even in the B2B segment, in which an average of 5.4 people are involved in a purchasing decision and purchasing processes stretch over longer periods of time, a substantial 56 percent of final product decisions are said to be attributed to emotional criteria. Those are the results of the 2019 “State of B2B” study conducted among 2,000 companies in North America, Europe, and China. Emotional branding and the emotionalization of brands therefore pay off both in the B2B and B2C segment. For marketers, this means:

It’s not a product’s benefits that have to convince the customer, but rather the feeling and emotional added value conveyed by the product and its use.

An emotional connection with a brand can even cause people to act completely irrationally. A good example of this would be the droves of people who camp for days outside closed store doors in miserable weather just to be the first to get their hands on the latest iPhone. Apple has used emotional branding in such a way that it has become an absolute love brand – a favorite brand that essentially no longer seems to need advertising at all. With fans being referred to as “Apple disciples”, the brand’s popularity and authority is almost reminiscent of a religion. There is no better proof that emotions beat rationality.

Today, the emotionalization and emotionally positive charging of products and brands is probably more of a success factor for companies than ever before. To be successful, simply being seen is not enough anymore: a brand has to be felt. Storytelling, content marketing, social media marketing in video format, and influencer marketing – all these methods are ultimately so popular because they are suited to conveying emotions with a human face and presenting them on the right channel and in a form that is perfectly tailored to the user. Has there been a viral social media hype that didn’t convey strong emotions?

How do you measure the success of emotional marketing?

Not every emotion promotes sales. A video marketing campaign that conveys negative emotions like stress, grief or anger will not have the desired effect. Only positive stimuli are able to activate the nucleus accumbens in the brain, which in turn encourages a positive purchasing decision.

In order to analyze such unconscious decision-making processes during the pretesting phase even before the launch of a campaign and thereby predict the success of an emotional branding campaign, measurement indexes based on scientific research can be used, for example the SDMI© (Subconscious Decision Marketing Index). An SDMI© analysis uses five different indexes:

  • Emotion index: what emotional value does the campaign have?
  • Benefit index: how convincing is the campaign?
  • Hormone index: what hormonal reactions are triggered?
  • Memory index: how memorable is the message?
  • Impulse index: how clear, stimulating and appropriate is the message to the target group?

Positive through and through: prospects of emotional marketing

Let’s not forget that the constantly growing trend toward AR and VR applications offers enormous potential for the future in terms of using digital means to involve customers even more intensively and enable them to experience brands and products even more powerfully on an emotional level. Especially in the field of software development, emotional design is still a popular method of creating positive aha moments among users and thereby enriching the user experience with an emotional component. In this context, companies that come up with creative ways to strike a chord with their customers, reach out to them with positive feelings, and form a strong bond with them will be ideally equipped for the future of their brand.