Have you ever been in a meeting and had someone offer one of the following statements? “We need to leave our emotions aside,” “We must take emotions out of the discussion” or “You need to separate your thinking from your emotions.”

logicThese comments are fundamentally absurd given the “emotion facts” revealed by the modern neuroscience community:

  • No sharp line divides thinking from feeling, nor does thinking inevitably precede feeling or vice-versa
  • Emotions, thinking and behavior are never far from each other – they are inextricably intertwined
  • Like the automatic settings on a camera, emotions produce behavior that is generally adaptive, and without the need for conscious thought about what to do
  • We are biologically hardwired to have emotions

Even in business, despite the pervasive attitude that rationality rules, all decisions are influenced by emotions.

For those interested in better understanding customer/consumer behavior, the assertions above give rise to a number of implications:

  • Thinking is never emotion free
  • How we feel about a product (that car frustrates me) affects how we think about a product (that car will never have the performance I crave)
  • Emotions explain the ‘why’ behind our behaviors
  • How we feel about a brand (I feel that brand belittles my self-worth or that brand makes me feel lively) often determines whether or not we purchase a brand/product

Analysis is always influenced by emotions.
How we feel about a methodology affects what analysis we conduct and how committed we are to the results.
We simply cannot fully understand human behavior in any setting without understanding how emotions influence the behavior. In particular, the motivators of customer behavior—why we make specific purchase decisions, why we choose not to buy, why we use the language we do—cannot be explained without knowing the underlying emotions at work.

What’s a Marketer to Do?

  1. Remember that emotions are at play in all human contexts. Encourage others to do the same and do not downplay the relevance of emotions. Do not accept explanations of customer or consumer behavior where emotional considerations are not present.
  2. Take the time to learn about emotions and understand how both positive and negative emotions impact the decision making and buying process. For example, a customer may feel exhilarated or comfortable talking to your salesperson, but she may feel despondent and insecure that your product has not lived up to its promise. Further, emotions can be about matters external and internal to any individual: a customer may feel hesitant (even angry) about the prospect of entering into negotiations with your firm because of past experiences; yet he may feel confident or energized thinking about what your product could do for his firm.
  3. Don’t accept at face value what customers or consumers say; more often than not, it is not an indication of how they actually feel. This is so for one crucial reason: the most powerful and influential emotions reside at the subconscious—the unarticulated—level. It is these non-conscious emotions that influence thinking, decision making and action.

heartAs marketers, we need a pathway to understand the emotions that are not at the forefront of our consciousness, but which we can appreciate once we become aware. Emotion Intelligence does just that and has been proven across many studies in a variety of markets.

To learn more about how The Martec Group can help you understand the impact of emotions on your business, please contact Chuck Bean, Partner, at Chuck.Bean@martecgroup.com, 248-327-8005.

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