In a recent article on Quirk’s Media, author Terry Lawlor illustrates the future of “emotion detection” in market research.

“Marketing researchers are under increasing pressure to deliver value to brands. … Harnessing emotions provides real opportunities to drive customer spending and enhance loyalty.”

While this article focused heavily on facial recognition technology for ad testing, the implications for Emotion Intelligence in market research are far broader. Emotion detection, whether captured via video, written or stated response, or gamification, can lend deeper insights into what drives customer behavior.

Currently in the market research field, emotion recognition technologies are sprouting up with all sorts of capacities – but one binding thread in each is the ability to recognize and capture System 1 Thinking. In Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” System 1 Thinking is described as the brain’s fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, nonconscious way of processing information while System 2 Thinking is more deliberate—slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious. According to the book, experts say 95 percent of cognitive activity is System 1. Therefore, most customer experiences are tied to System 1 Thinking—the emotional response.

With that in mind, the opportunities Emotion Intelligence can provide seem to reach as far as the imagination will go. If market researchers can better understand how customers feel, they can tweak initiatives to influence customer loyalty in new and effective ways delivering value to the brands they serve.

One successful example from an early adopter is Coca-Cola. The company was losing market share to Pepsi… the younger generation. Coca-Cola had been messaging emotions which consumers attributed to Pepsi, therefore Coke’s campaign was essentially selling Pepsi.

Coca-Cola employed an Emotion Intelligence tool to construct an interactive survey that uncovered the nonconscious emotions customers had about Coke’s messaging. After seeing the resulting emotion analysis, the company repositioned its campaign to leverage emotions which consumers attributed to Coke, such as “respected” and “established” instead of “exciting” and “leading.”

The result? Coke regained 1.5 percent market share in 3 months equating to $130 million in revenue.

Another example of Emotion Intelligence in action is out of Ameriprise Financial. Financial planner turnover was costing the company $50 million per year in training and development costs… Worse: outwardly, planner competency was being questioned.

The company had a grave reputational risk at hand if customer perceptions did not change. Ameriprise utilized the same Emotion Intelligence tool Coca-Cola had used to survey planners and buyers of financial services to identify the intense negative/unpleasant emotions each constituency associated with the process.

Based on the results of that survey, Ameriprise initiated emotional competency training and achieved a 15 percent increase in sales within two years and a significant reduction in turnover. The Emotion Intelligence solution uncovered the whole picture – something conventional market research results had not revealed previously.

As these new and emerging market research technologies continue to evolve, companies who incorporate Emotion Intelligence solutions will reap the added benefits of tapping into customers’ fast, emotional responses, which result in greater customer loyalty, brand awareness and purchasing behavior.

While “the future of emotion detection” will most likely advance and find its place, as Lawlor writes, it is The Martec Group’s belief that early adopters already have the leg up on the competition; it is those who resist who may end up driving sales for their competitors. System 1 Thinking is fast—almost volatile. Companies that study early will create more meaningful and rewarding customer experiences now and in the future.

Interested in learning more about Emotion Intelligence? Please contact us.

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