B2B International
B2B International

November 20, 2009

With the recession clouds still looming, Afshan Bhatti in this week’s Thursday Night Insight takes the opportunity to remind businesses how important it is, now more than ever, for brands to harness an emotional connection with consumers.

We, as humans, are largely motivated by our emotions, with emotion stimulating the mind 3,000 times faster than rational thought. Indeed, findings in neuroscience indicate that it is emotion, not reason, that primarily drives consumers’ purchasing decisions. Rational thoughts lead the customer to be interested but it’s the emotion that sells. It is therefore imperative that marketers understand the role that emotions play in human decision making and subsequent behaviour, especially in these economic downturns.

I’d like to share an experience that I had recently. I’d decided to leave work early one day last week to beat the traffic, or so I thought. As I approached the M60 motorway, I could see the bright hazard lights flashing in the distance, and as I looked up, there it was, the dreaded matrix sign blinking the number 40 at me. My heart sank. It was pouring down with horrendous rain, and now, thanks to a pedestrian on the motorway, I was going to be stuck in traffic for goodness knows how long. All I wanted to do was get home, relax in front of the fire and catch up on the week’s Flash Forward. When I finally got home, tired, hungry and truly fed up, I was met at the door by my dad. Apparently my nephew had dropped something on my mum’s favourite rug that she had got especially from Egypt this summer, and when dad tried to clean it up, found the vacuum cleaner not to be working. Well you won’t believe what came next; dad panic stricken, wait for it, shoved his bank card in my hand and told me that I needed to go into town right now and purchase a vacuum cleaner before mum got home – a vacuum cleaner! Now, being the most undomesticated person I know, I don’t know the first thing about vacuum cleaners, but dad hurried me out of the door and before I knew it I was standing in John Lewis surrounded by an array of vacuum cleaners, all shapes, sizes and colours.

After what seemed like an hour, a sales advisor came over and asked if I needed any help. I did. I explained that I needed a vacuum cleaner and was shown a whole selection, and there it was, in the midst of them all, a Dyson rollerball DC25. Wow, it looked really smart and it even crossed my mind that it might be fun to use. I couldn’t believe it but I was actually excited and I wasn’t even buying shoes! This particular Dyson reminded me of a toy I had when I was younger, and had elicited sensory emotional feelings, taking me back to my childhood.

Okay, granted not everyone gets this excited about a vacuum cleaner, but the point I am trying to make is that business marketers must appeal to the hearts, and not just the minds of their customers and prospects, even in seemingly unlovable industries such as electrical appliances!

Take Gillette, for example; everyone is familiar with their “the best a man can get” adverts. The brand wanted to expand beyond shaving into personal care and grooming products, and with that, strengthen its emotional bond with millions of men around the world who begin each day with Gillette. In light of this, early this year, Gillette launched a new global brand campaign, titled “in the moment”. The brand conducted extensive research with thousands of men around the world and found that even the most confident of men experience feelings of doubt throughout life. Furthermore, findings revealed that men are looking for products that give them the confidence they want and need to step up, perform, feel and look their best, especially in uncertain times.

The campaign features everyday men, as well as the Gillette Champions, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Derek Jeter, experiencing moments of doubt and how they overcame them to succeed. The advert depicts the doubt faced by every guy, whether it is the moment before he steps on the doorstep of the girl’s house he’s going on a first date with, before he delivers a presentation or gives his “best man” speech at a wedding, and the role that Gillette’s products play in helping him gain the confidence to succeed in that moment.

How your brand or company makes a customer feel, how they believe your values align with theirs and overall likeability are all integral to creating clients that are highly favourable towards, and attached to, your business. In today’s recession-fuelled business world, creating that emotional bond is critical and will ultimately give you an advantage over your competitors. Employ emotional marketing by tapping into emotions that strongly motivate your customer base and then construct your marketing strategy around these emotions with a message that resonates with your audience’s main motivating factor. After all, capturing the mind is one thing, but capturing the heart is quite another.