We like to think of ourselves as rational beings that make careful and logical decisions. When asked about what we look for in say, a new pair of jeans, most of us will mention attributes such as "affordable", "high quality", and "flattering". Few will say that they want a pair of jeans that gives them a feeling of power, excites them, or instills a sense of belonging. Does this mean that emotions don't matter?
That is far from the case. Research has shown that what we say they want often differs from what we truly want. This is sometimes due to social desirability bias (i.e., trying to look good as deemed by society), but oftentimes it's just too hard for us to articulate a deep-seated emotional driver. To explain our choices, we may default to what sounds right and seems to match with our view of ourselves (as logical and rational people).
The reality is that emotions often drive our decisions. Emotions are frequently looked at through a negative light, as a cause of our irrational and foolish behavior. However, emotions can be useful and purposeful, helping us to make quick decisions, push us into action, or account for information that we are not fully cognizant of. "Follow your heart" and "Go with your gut" are two of the most commonly given pieces of advice for a reason.
Building an Emotional Connection
Given the critical role of emotion in decision-making, it is particularly important for marketers to leverage its power. One of the most salient examples of how emotions influence consumer behavior is in designer brands. Why do we buy designer brands? Are we being illogical by spending more than necessary?
Not quite. Designer brands are much more than what they seem. While many of us cite the quality and uniqueness of designer products as the reasons for our purchases, luxury brands fulfill some of our deepest needs – not only for status, but for self-esteem, success, and belonging. Luxury brands make us feel closer to our ideal self. We are emotionally connected to luxury brands and trust these brands to give us that feeling.
Of course, this phenomenon extends much further than designer brands, to the brands that we always purchase (which gives us feelings of comfort and security), and the cookies with the crazy new flavor that we grabbed on a whim (which appeals to our craving for adventure).
Whether we like it or not, brands and products can help satisfy our emotional needs. With this knowledge, we at Murphy Research go beyond consumers' stated preferences to identify the key desires (What are their fears and hopes? Who do they want to be?) that drive their consumption. We can help you sculpt messages, product features, customer service, and brand personality to help consumers fulfill their underlying desires.