Financial Data
Updated 21 Feb 2020


Why it’s essential to build an emotional connection with your customers

A challenging world economic climate, and an even tougher local economic climate, have led to many companies re-assessing their marketing approach. ‘Special Offers’ won’t cut it anymore. Consumers want to ‘feel’ something when they make a purchase. 


Andrew Mackenzie, 06 September 2016  Share  0 comments  Print


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Using limited offers, 25% more, two for one, or buy one get one free is not good enough today. Brands that take this approach are in danger of being seen as money-grabbing and unsympathetic to the man on the street.

The focus isn't on money anymore, maybe because there arguably isn't enough, and the everyday consumer has turned to looking for other things for satisfaction; namely happiness and general wellbeing. So, as marketers, it’s time to start looking beyond wallets and financial gain and into the hearts of the consumer, it’s time to establish the value of emotion in advertising.

Related: Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded

The proof is in the research

In a recent study completed by Dr. Robert Heath, a professor at the University of Bath, he draws a direct correlation to the value of emotion in advertising, and is collaborating with Nielsen to incorporate this into its new TV brand-effect module, Creative Evaluation. 

This Creative Evaluation will measure how consumers are connecting emotionally with ads. It just proves how important emotionally connecting has become in the age of mass consumerism.

Why is emotion so important in advertising? 

The human brain processes two main types of responses to advertising, cognitive and emotive. Think of it a little like rational and emotional responsiveness. 

The rational filter is based on need. I need toilet paper, one or two ply as a preference perhaps, and price. There is no emotion in the buying decision. But let’s take dog food as an example. Throw in a picture of a cute little puppy, and suddenly our emotive brain steps into the equation, and we are more concerned with giving that little guy the best food money can buy, the price isn't such a big deal anymore, is it?

Advertising isn’t about only stating facts anymore

Advertising -facts -and -stats

You might think that if all you want to do is communicate information, then it doesn’t matter whether or not people respond emotionally.

But, there are two reasons why you should always try to get a positive emotional response: The first is that it has been shown that the way that information is communicated has an important influence on how likely you are to believe that information.

The second is that if you are going to pay for an ad, why not use that ad to strengthen your brand? The best way you can do that is by getting a positive emotional response from the ad.

Big brands use emotion to build brand equity 

Emotion is part of our natural response system. There are five key human emotive drivers namely happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear. Yes, there are many more emotions, but these five are our primary drivers. 

One only has to look at Coca-Cola to see how its alignment to ‘Open happiness’ has seen fantastic brand equity being built over the years. 

Snickers is another great example of a brand using a primary emotive driver, anger. The brand centres itself around the fact that you are not the same when you are hungry, and that you become angry. Snickers has delivered award-winning creative solutions based on this angry/hungry approach.

Related: How well do you really know your target market?

Why you’ll succeed through leveraging emotions 

The power of emotive advertising goes a long way in explaining why so many brands are connecting with social responsibility initiatives, as they carry a strong emotional connection.

Society wants to buy from companies that give back; not just in revenue and jobs, but in social well-being and morality. But, don't just tag your logo onto the end of a social responsibility initiative, make sure that you leverage an area true to your brand and what it stands for, or the public will see right through it.

So, it’s no longer a question of if you need an emotive angle in your advertising, it’s a question of how long can you survive without it? Connecting with customers on an emotional level will make it easier for you to succeed when the economy isn’t as buoyant as you’d expected it to be.

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About the author


Andrew Mackenzie

As the chief cat-herder of a team of creatives, Andrew has to constantly maintain an objective view on creative concepts, always aiming at big ideas that work for clients. He relies on almost two decades of experience, from his junior designer beginnings through to his current speciality – through-the-line advertising. A people person to his core, Andrew’s skill is drawing the best out of the creative teams he oversees. And how well is he doing it? We’ll let the awards speak for themselves, from the pinnacle of local and international awards shows, including wins at the Loeries, Assegais, Clio's, Epicas and Cannes to name a few.

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