As we pointed out previously in this series, marketers need to understand that marketing efforts must connect with prospects and customers on an emotional level. That is why, in most highly competitive categories, advertising content often has very little to do with conscious, rational benefits (features, convenience, performance, pricing).budlight-upforwhatever

  • Beer commercials often sell a sense of belonging to a particular lifestyle.
  • 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 feeling of adventure and ruggedness.
  • Business services advertisements often appeal to a desire to be ahead of the pack through the latest technology.

The emotional focus seems intuitively obvious in these types of communications and billions of dollars are spent on their creation and media costs.

With so much emphasis on emotional approaches in communications by top companies, what is the role of conscious rational factors like features, convenience, performance and pricing? Aren’t these important in buyers’ decisions? The simple answer is yes, of course they are. If your product or service isn’t competitive on features, convenience, performance and pricing then it won’t survive very long or will be relegated to a small niche segment.

But research shows that being highly competitive on rational factors, while essential, will only get you to parity with your three or four top competitors. Buyers typically perceive their “short list” companies as effectively equal on price/convenience/performance/pricing. Just about every top product or service ends up in this parity position because any short-term advantage on rational factors is quickly matched by competitors. Most marketers quickly reach a ‘how am I going to differentiate my product now?’ moment.

The answer to this question is finding a way to engage with your customers’ primary emotional motivations. To do so, you need a firm grasp of what those emotional motivations are for your category in general and your brand in particular. Gaining this understanding has been extremely difficult for marketers and market researchers, because buyers are not fully aware of their own emotional drivers and blockers, and therefore cannot articulate what motivates them at an emotional level. Since most emotional motivations are subconscious, how can you get reliable data on these critical drivers and blockers?

Why Can’t Conventional Research Capture Emotional Insights?

While conventional research methodologies have their place in any marketer’s or market researcher’s tool box, these methodologies, by necessity, rely on conscious thoughts and verbal expressions to gain understanding of subconscious emotional motivations. When you examine conventional options for understanding buyers’ emotional motivations that are in common use today, some consistent themes and concerns arise.

  1. Every one of the conventional options inserts a substantial amount of standard research bias through external influences such as a moderator, survey writer, interviewer or perhaps other people in the research environment.
  2. Conventional options assume that buyers are capable of reliably articulating (self-reporting) their emotions, even though research demonstrates that people do not fully realize what their subconscious emotions are and therefore cannot reliably report on their subconscious motivations.
  3. Conventional data/insight collection is unavoidably biased by the research respondent’s mood or temperament on the day of the research.

emotional-insights-chartSo how should a marketer go about capturing emotional insights? In an ideal research study, individual buyers would provide open-ended responses without the influence of moderators or other participants. In an ideal world, subconscious emotional motivations as well as conscious rational motivations would be identified. It is also ideal to prioritize results by the relative intensities of emotional and rational motivations. Research findings ideally should be in an actionable form that makes it easy to implement real world solutions, such that would significantly improve marketing communications. To complete the ‘ideal’ picture, the research should yield statistically significant quantitative data within a budget and timeframe comparable to other market research approaches. This is a formidable list of criteria, so it is reasonable to ask: Is such ‘ideal’ research possible? We believe it is.

Stay tuned as we explore a variety of neuroscience-based research techniques that help marketers move beyond the conventional world of conscious thoughts and responses and enter the world of the subconscious.

For more information on Emotion Mining™, please download our overview of “What Really Moves Us.”

Related:
“Are You Winning Hearts and Minds?” – Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important
“These Go to 11” – Turn Up the Emotional Connections

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