Emotional Intelligence. It's time to get excited!

Shopping for a book shouldn’t really be a stressful experience. When my son was a few weeks old I went to a bookshop on my local high street. Suddenly the cosy store with its studious atmosphere and hushed tones, that had once felt relaxing, made me anxious given my son’s love of screaming. So for a few months I stuck to shops where I felt comfortable and that I perceived as child-friendly.

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Why should brands understand consumers’ emotions?

Emotions play a role in the decisions we make. When we feel sad we spend more money, when we feel afraid we spend more money, when we feel happy we spend again and again. And our emotions can be triggered at every touchpoint by cues that brands have access to- everything from imagery to music, colour palettes to lighting.

Whilst functional elements such as price, range and availability are of course important, emotional impact is often overlooked. Yet the need for brands to engage emotionally with consumers has never been more important. In a world absorbed by social media, today’s consumer expects a more personal relationship with brands they follow and connect with on Instagram. How do you build this personal relationship? By connecting with people on an emotional level.

 

How can brands measure their emotional impact?

As technology evolves we are moving into a world where it is possible to quantify emotional impact with increasing ease and speed. Below I have outlined a couple of examples of how brands can gather robust insight into their emotional impact:

1. Establish emotional reactions

Consumers are becoming more open to expressing their emotions online; according to Emogi, 2.3 trillion mobile messages incorporating emojis will be sent in 2017. Therefore, simply asking consumers how they feel can be effective if executed correctly - using a list of universally recognised emotions and asking the question in-situ to minimise rationalisation.

Beyond this, facial coding can reveal emotional reaction without relying on what consumers are able and willing to self-report. By taking advantage of laptop webcams, it is now possible to integrate facial coding into online surveys.

2. Understand implicit associations

As well as our emotional reaction, our non-conscious, implicit associations can add insight into the personal connection consumers have with brands. Implicit Response Testing is a research methodology that measures which attributes – both functional and emotional – are strongly associated with brands. Demanding rapid categorisation, there is not enough time to rationalise responses so results reveal implicit associations. This technique can be used alongside an exercise in understanding explicit, conscious associations, to provide a more holistic view of brand equity.

 

In summary, emotions play a role in our perceptions of brands and the purchase decisions we make. For brands, understanding their emotional impact provides the opportunity to both optimise engagement and strengthen their connection with consumers. This in turn can help increase market share through longer-term gains in customer lifespan and loyalty.