The Caveat of Connection: How Emotions Play a Role in Marketing
Recall a moment when you were aimlessly browsing through your social media timeline. Every five seconds, you scroll down to absorb another post. Suddenly, an advertisement pops up. Usually, you’d skip ads like this, but this one is different—this one makes you linger. Rather than shoving a product in your face, you find yourself immersed in a narrative that tugs at your heartstrings. Right after viewing the ad, you immediately think of buying from the brand.
If this situation sounds familiar, then you have experienced being captured by emotional marketing.
What is the power of emotional marketing?
Emotional marketing refers to marketing efforts where emotional aspects of products are used to generate attention and elicit a response from consumers. Here, the point is not simply to explain what product or service is being offered but to connect and engage with the target market.
Setting oneself apart in an increasingly saturated market is becoming a growing concern for brands, especially newly established ones. There's a growing awareness that having quality products and services is not enough to take hold of a significant share of the market because features and technicalities might be easy to forget. This is why emotional marketing aims to portray the compelling aspects of human characteristics to make it more memorable for the consumers. This capitalizes on the motivation of consumers to purchase with their feelings and not merely based on the product itself. Appealing to a single yet strong emotion can go a long way in influencing decision-making processes.
Levi's 2018 Holiday Ad
A prime example of emotional marketing is Levi’s 2018 Holiday ad that aimed to promote their tailor shops where customers could have their Levi’s products customized with an array of pins and patches. In the ad, we follow the journey of a middle-aged man as he purchases a jean jacket and has it customized with metal studs. It seems like an ordinary storyline at first, but the emotional punch comes in at the end when it is revealed that the jacket is a gift for his blind son. The studs are arranged in braille, spelling out the message “Anywhere you go, andyan lagi si Papa.” The ad received millions of views and thousands of engagements, with Levi’s even winning an award at the 21st Outstanding Filipino Retailers Awards 2019.
Can emotional marketing be dangerous?
Emotional marketing can be a very effective strategy when done right. An emotional relationship is formed, leading to increased shareability, memorability, and customer loyalty. However, there is a thin line between persuasion and manipulation, and oftentimes, this becomes blurred. It’s evident when a brand is genuinely attempting to build better rapport with the consumers versus when they are simply exploiting the vulnerabilities of the public to boost sales. Negative emotions such as fear tend to be abused in advertisements. For instance, beauty brands capitalize on the confidence issues of women to get them to buy products that would make them “beautiful” in the eyes of others.
Advertisement of Belo with the message “Tough times call for beautiful measures.”
By hitting these emotions, the insecurities of consumers are exposed. They become sensitive to the message being conveyed and are more likely to be manipulated into purchasing.
Fortunately, consumers nowadays are growing even more conscious of their purchase decisions. Moreover, with the online space evolving to be more widespread and accessible, it is easier for audiences to share their thoughts about brands with one another.
How can brands effectively and responsibly use emotional marketing?
Establish a clear goal. Brands that make it their sole goal to increase sales and profitability might find themselves constantly treading the line between persuasion and manipulation as this may seem like the easier and quicker way to drive purchases. Nevertheless, focusing on a quick way to differentiate one’s brand without proper consideration for the feelings of the audience hinders the attainment of long-term goals such as customer loyalty.
Know your audience. Storytelling is essential in emotional marketing. In order to effectively create a narrative that will resonate with the audience, it is first needed to get to know them. The Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) approach is a way to ensure this, as it revolves around understanding the consumers to creatively and consistently communicate the right emotions needed for your ad.
Be authentic. A brand must keep in mind their core values in crafting ads since heavily manufactured content and messages can be spotted from a mile away. Building a long-lasting and genuine connection with an audience necessitates putting extra care and effort to make them and their emotions feel respected.
Dao, B. (2020). The Power of Emotional Marketing - Case: Visit Lapland Tours [Thesis, Lapland University of Applied Sciences]. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/323461008.pdf
Decker, A. (2018, August 20). The Ultimate Guide to Emotional Marketing. HubSpot. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/emotion-marketing
Gartlan, D. (2022, February 18). Emotional Advertising: How Brands Use Feelings to Get People to Buy. Stevens & Tate Attraction Marketing. https://stevens-tate.com/articles/emotional-advertising/
Lofgren, L. (2019, April 18). The Power of Emotional Marketing. Quicksprout. https://www.quicksprout.com/emotional-marketing/
Unzipped Staff. (2019, July 17). Levi’s® Philippines Wins Outstanding Marketing Award For Holiday Ad - Levi Strauss & Co. Levi Strauss & Co. https://www.levistrauss.com/2019/07/17/levis-philippines-wins-outstanding-marketing-award-for-holiday-ad/