Research shows that being competitive on rational factors, while essential, will only achieve parity. Most leading products or services end up in this parity position because short-term advantages, based solely on rational factors, quickly are matched by competitors.

To combat this issue, marketers need to connect with customers on an emotional level for lasting advantage. This is why, in most highly competitive categories, advertising often has very little to do with conscious, rational benefits, features or performance.

  • Perfume advertisements focus on feelings of mystery and allure
  • Premium liquor brands sell feelings of confidence or a means to achieve status
  • SUV commercials appeal to a sense of adventure and ruggedness

The emotional emphasis in these examples is obvious, and billions of dollars are spent each year on the creation and execution of such advertising campaigns. The challenge for many marketers is confidently identifying your customers’ true emotional motivations – applying science, rather than just creative intuition.

The Science of Language

While there are many ways to assess what’s happening inside the brain, ranging from measuring activity using imaging equipment to biometric evaluations to image/metaphorical exercises, many of these are far from simple…either to execute or to understand.

In our experience, the simplest way to understand customers’ emotional motivators is through language, to allow respondents to use their own words to express themselves regarding how a topic (product, service, brand, etc.) makes them feel.

The trade-off is that human beings often struggle to articulate feelings; and, therefore, using language by itself is insufficient for delivering reliable insights into emotional motivations. Yet again, the solution lies in applying science. Our Emotion Intelligence methodologies use patented linguistic algorithms (along with an emotion lexicon of over four-thousand words) to categorize the words respondents use into Emotional Channels comprised of four basic emotional properties: Enjoyment, Interest, Commitment and Passion.

Emotion Intelligence EI emotion properties visual

By classifying customers’ emotional responses into a standard set of categories that address the wide spectrum of human emotions, it is possible to meaningfully generate emotional data using language.

As in all research studies, the sample size determines the level of statistical confidence in the findings. The benefit of using language is that it is by far the most scalable when compared with the other physiological and psychological methods.

Scalable Approach(es)

Large-scale neuro, or Emotion Intelligence, studies are difficult to achieve in a cost-effective manner. With the use of language, multiple doors open, including seamless integration of emotional techniques into conventional market research methods. Martec’s Emotion Intelligence product suite includes several methods for capturing and analyzing emotional language:

Emotion Detecting – content captured via existing research verbatims and transcripts (from previously executed focus groups, IDIs, surveys)

Emotion Discovery – content captured via additional questions appended to current research projects (focus groups, IDIs, surveys)

Emotion Analysis – utilize an online survey methodology with patented algorithms to uncover conscious and subconscious emotional connections to a topic

Emotion Monitoring – identify topics that are being talked about online via social media, product review websites, customer feedback blogs, etc.

Finally, because the raw data is language, research requirements such as recruitment of sample respondents and incentivizing data collection are similar to other familiar types of research. As a result, costs and time frames are comparable to traditional research. Due to technology and underlying algorithms that permit substantial automation of data collection and analysis, insights can be delivered within days not weeks, and weeks not months, depending on study design and objectives.

In summary, an ideal Emotion Intelligence investigation needs to be practical for marketers to fully extract value. Key ingredients should include:

  • Identifying emotional motivations, as well as conscious, rational motivations simultaneously (enabling true segmentation and data mining of results)
  • Ability to be completed for both large and small sample sizes—cost-effectively scalable
  • Insights communicated in an actionable form, making it easy to implement real-world solutions without the need for scientific interpretation at all points

To learn more about how these techniques yield reliable, actionable data addressing customers’ most intense feelings regarding a product, service or brand, please check out the following article, Turn Up the Emotional Connections, which highlights how Emotion Intelligence is being used to uncover the drivers behind core metrics such as customer satisfaction ratings and new emotionally-based segmentation schemes (Martec Emotion Scores).

For more information on Emotion Intelligence, contact Chuck Bean at

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