It is well known that we are intrinsically motivated by our emotions – consciously or subconsciously. Playful puppies, inspirational achievements and stories of struggle reach us in the form of advertising every day. There is little surprise that this type of marketing can be effective, but what may be surprising is just how much it can influence consumer behaviour. A study of 1,400 successful advertising campaigns found that those with emotional content performed almost twice as well (31%) as those with only rational content (16%).
When marketing a product or service, it is easy to focus on the facts and figures but neuro-imagery scans show that consumers evaluate brands based on emotions rather than logic.
So why do certain emotions ignite engagement and which emotions do you need to produce the results you desire? Let’s take a look at some of our most basic emotions: joy, sadness, fear and anger.
Joy can stimulate sharing
Joy and happiness are hard-wired in all of us and with joy comes a rush of feel-good hormones, including dopamine. Of all of our happiness hormones, dopamine could be the most important when it comes to marketing. Why? Because it is the brain chemical that motivates and inspires us to take action. Research conducted by Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, supports this. With over 7,000 New York Times articles studied, it was found that the more positive the article, the more likely it was to become viral.
Often referred to as ‘joy marketing’, there is little surprise that incorporating happiness into your promotions can have a strong impact on the way people perceive your brand. The goal of ‘joy marketing’ is to elicit a specific
emotional response: happiness (of course!), to create a deeper and meaningful connection between consumer and brand. This can lead to greater loyalty and more profitable relationships. After all, we purchase products and services to enhance our lives.
Coca-Cola’s slogan, “open happiness” is perhaps one of the most obvious and renowned examples of joy marketing.
Sadness can motivate generosity
When we look at sadness and happiness, we view them as opposite emotions. What many are unaware of, though, is sadness lights up many of the same areas of the brain as happiness.
When we are sad, our brain produces cortisol and oxytocin – the hormones of stress and empathy. Of these two hormones, oxytocin plays an important role in creating trust and compassion toward a business or a campaign.
In a study performed by Paul Zak, it was found that those who watched a short, sad story about a boy with cancer produced varying amounts of oxytocin. Those who produced the most of this neurochemical were most likely to give money to others they couldn’t see. Unicef’s ad is a perfect example of an ad that targets empathy to create change for those less fortunate.
Whether it is to donate to a charity, move to more environmentally-friendly practices or even support a campaign, a sense of sadness can motivate consumers to create change and, as a result, increase revenue.
Fear can increase brand attachment
Fear is renowned as a negative emotion, often eliciting a fight or flight response. What marketers may be interested in knowing, however, is that fear can actually stimulate an increased brand attachment.
Research has found that people who feel scared seek human connections. If there are no humans around, a brand can actually play a similar role. Consequently, if a
brand creates marketing that stimulates fear, it provides the opportunity for consumers to connect with and better remember their products and services.
The fear could be something as simple as a fear of missing out on something or the dread of something occurring. Adding an expiration date, an impending deadline or offering a safer product can motivate consumers to purchase a product or service. This Michelin ad plays on fear to encourage buyers to purchase their product to keep their loved ones safe. But be careful, it can be a dangerous emotion to rely on and the novelty can wear off if it is consistently pushed.
Anger can generate action
Like joy, sadness and fear, a marketing campaign designed to elicit anger can be effective, particularly if the goal is to promote viral content. In Berger’s study of 7,000 New York Times articles, it was also revealed that the content that made readers feel frustration and anger was 34% more likely to be shared via e-mail than the average article.
While anger can lead to obvious negative emotions, such as aggression, it can help to create emotions that spur action, including disgust and frustration. The trick to anger marketing is to offer a product or service that provides an actionable answer to what is eliciting the anger. By positioning your product or service in support of their anger, it enables the brand to become trustworthy, just and honourable. Naturally, this will establish a deeper connection between the brand and the consumer.
Always’ Like a Girl campaign uses a famous insult to capture your attention, make you angry and build a brand connection. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs)
It is natural as humans to be emotionally driven. We’re built to connect and despite the continuous advances in products and services, one thing will remain consistent: the power human emotions have in driving us to make decisions – often subconsciously. So next time you are creating a marketing campaign, consider the impact you want to have on the consumers and how you want them to feel about or remember your brand.