Once More, with Feeling
I may get a little emotional as we move forward here. Ideally, you will, too.
To begin with, I am feeling frustrated with Big Data. Yes, it is, without a doubt, a critical new marketing tool. Information is power, and the ability to explore a consumer’s experience yields real insight. But while reams and reams of facts and figures can help explain the “whens” and “wheres” and “hows” of shopper behavior, they don’t always help the marketer understand the “whys.”
But I’m feeling hopeful. Because there is growing evidence that a brand’s emotional appeal can be more effective in changing consumer behavior than simply showcasing functional benefits and providing rational, persuasive arguments. By digging into shoppers’ dispositions and desires, marketers can identify pivotal emotions that lead to a powerful, meaningful bond with a brand.
Emotional marketing is not new, but in our age of unfiltered content, consumer journalism, omnichannel and always-on communication, it has taken on new importance. (Just think about Super Bowl ads over the past few years.) We know that when marketers solicit an emotional response, it leads to buyers who see value and act with urgency. That makes me feel inspired.
Psychologist and researcher Robert Plutchik spent decades studying emotions, and his research yielded a core list of eight: joy, sadness, trust, disgust, fear, anger, surprise and anticipation.
He visualized this list as a wheel, referred to by some as Plutchik’s Flower. Variations in color intensity correspond to variations in emotional intensity So the eight primary emotions occupy the middle ring of the flower with more intense forms occurring in the center and milder forms the extremities. Knowing that makes me feel smart!
And excited. Because emotional marketing drives engagement, and engagement facilitates the shopper experience (the shopper marketer’s Holy Grail). The smart retail marketer will structure meaningful, emotion-driven in-store interactions that make shoppers feel something:
- Fear of missing out; of not being on-trend, of not reaching their potential
- Pride in making a smart decision or having good taste
- Belonging to the in-crowd or the change-makers
- Guilt about not giving enough or not providing adequately
- Desire for the new, and to be seen as beautiful and important
- Joy at being able to help and make things better
Feelings, when authentically and honestly elicited, drive shopper action.
And it takes more than a puppy photo and a tagline to pull at the heartstrings. Retail marketers should consider the emotional impact of color, typography, lighting, physical space, display curation and product juxtaposition when creating in-store emotional touch points.
Emotions trigger connection, which enhances trust, which drives loyalty, which increases brand advocacy, which leads to positive word-of-mouth. I feel overwhelmed with possibility.