Is the Future of Marketing Driven by Emotion?

Ivana author

Ivana Vnučec

Content Writer

⏱ Reading Time: 7 minutes

Humans are emotional creatures. In fact, most scientists agree that the most crucial emotional responses we have – fear of a threat, anger, love and caring for those in need are part of an instinct to survive. After all, most of these emotions are geared toward protecting ourselves or the future of the human race. Harvard Business Review calls this “emotions before reason“. However, what is the role of emotions in marketing and how can they change marketing?

🚀 Read Customer Experience Guide: How to Put your Customers First? 🚀

Emotion in Online Marketing

What makes an ad memorable? In a crowd of ads, it is important to distinguish one from all others. Since there are a bunch of others who already use various visual and audio effects, emotion is what stimulates and makes you stand out.  As Zig Ziglar claims:

People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.

As proof of that, there are many brands which know how to use it. One of the examples is Coca-Cola who doesn’t talk about fat and calories but focuses on youth, vitality and good times. Another great example is Nutella who again doesn’t talk about the amount of sugar in the product, instead, they focus on the feeling of joy which it provides.

Influence of emotions

However, when it comes to including emotions in advertising, we need to be aware of various emotions and their various influence on human behavior. There are two concepts: “arousal” and “valence” that help to distinguish one emotion from another. Arousal refers to the intensity of emotion what explain how calming or exciting something is.

On the other hand, valence deals with the positive or negative character of the emotion.

Further on, it adds positive connotations such as joy, love, or pride have high or “positive” valence. Negative connotations like scare of death, anger, and violence have low or “negative” valence. Similarly, the more exciting, motivating, or infuriating something is, the higher the arousal. Consequently, information that is soothing or calming produces low arousal.

Arousal and Valence graph

Picture 1:  Graph of emotion on the axis valence and arousal

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) analyzed 1400 case studies of the most successful advertising campaigns over the last three decades. The analysis compared campaigns relied on emotional appeal versus those which rational persuasion and information.

The result showed that campaigns with purely emotional content performed twice as well as those with only rational content. As a result of the successful advertisement, relied on emotion is Thai Life Insurance’s video about “Unsung hero”.

The Significance of Storytelling

According to Global Empathy Index, the top 10  “emphatic” companies increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings. When it comes to empathy, it can be shown through storytelling. Storytelling wraps your information into an interesting story easier to remember. Also, it makes your brand more human.

Here are some benefits of good stories below:

  1. Stories engage the imagination of readers.
  2. Stories go beyond facts and theories.
  3. Stories are personal and reveal something about yourself as a blogger or brand.
  4. Stories trigger emotions and senses.
  5. Stories are conversational – they stimulate others to react and tell their stories. For example to you, to others and in their own communications channels.
  6. Stories make readers caught onto your message
  7. Stories grab and hold the attention of readers.
  8. Stories are memorable – while people don’t always latch onto facts and figures but a good story can be remembered for years.
  9. Stories illustrate your points in ways that can be much more convincing than other types of information.

Driving Customers Actions with Emotions

Earlier we explained emotions create powerful memories in people’s minds. In turn, these memories motivate us to take action. Every decision your customer makes consists of many conscious and subconscious emotions. We all have mental triggers that drive action and whose understanding is important to what defines effective marketing. Below we’ll introduce you to different psychological triggers that help drive emotions.


Although the importance of a sense of belonging can be traced back to infancy, we have many closer examples of belonging. For example, World Cup supporters are driven by an emotional connection to their team through deep-seated personal motivators.

There are also brands such as Apple, Harley Davidson, and Vans who use a sense of belonging to demonstrate their power. Creating a feeling of belonging satisfies core psychological needs. Brands should seek to build communities that allow customers to feel like they belong to something, are heard and can contribute.


In a study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, JoAndrea Hoegg demonstrated that consumers experiencing fear while watching a film feel a greater affiliation with a certain brand than those who watch films evoking happiness, sadness or excitement.

Fear motivates people to react quickly to protect themselves from physical, psychological and social threats. Moreover, there is a new kind of fear – fear of missing out (FoMo). FoMo marketing is messaging that triggers your audience’s innate fear of missing out in order to make them take action.


Marketing messages that make consumers feel guilty can be very effective and also very off-putting. Charities use this tactic in their ad campaigns frequently with campaigns that guilt you over a cup of coffee, a glass of beer or evening meal.

Moreover, there are many other examples of guilt that can have an effect on customers decision journey. Some of them are parents who in lack of their time leave children with video movies to browse Facebook; shoppers who care about buying organic but can’t afford the higher prices. These also include examples of consumers who splurge on wine or truffle oil, then a day later feel gross and wasteful for spending so much money during a recession and so on.


Once you get customer trust, their customer journey about your product will be much shorter and they will buy it with minimal cognitive effort. Trust is related to transparency. McDonald’s pink slime is one example where the company managed to turn around major PR with transparency. The result was increasing trust and brand advocacy. Moreover, trust can be improved by prominent displaying testimonials such as TripAdvisor and display trusted and recognized brands.

More ways to earn trust are to reduce perceived risk by offering a free trial or solid guarantee. Also, showing human faces on your website can make you look more like a human. Finally, using specific language in your website copy tells a story and can induce a feeling of trust. In the long run, they will all make your brand closer to customers and stimulate them to act towards your brand’s products.


In most psychological models, humans are believed to act upon the “pleasure principle.” It is the driving force that compels human beings to gratify their needs and urges. Those needs can be as complex as the “need” to purchase a particular commodity or service. A “need” that is often driven by advertising and a desire to keep up with the Jones’s.

Related: Micro-moments and Real-Time Chat

Instant gratification can drive customer’s action. To improve it, you can offer them something now. For example, give something for free, offer discounts, giveaways, and chances to win. Instant messages are the best way to support intended action, which is where live chat comes in handy. Exchange messages in real-time and convert while inspiring a sense of gratification.

The Role of Emotional Connections in Brand Loyalty

Although brands may be liked or trusted, most fail to align themselves with the emotions that drive their customers most profitable behaviors. Measuring the value of emotional connections allows us to compare the value of emotional connections and profit. It shows scoring of standard customer metrics such as satisfaction and brand differentiation, thus highlighting the potential gains from looking beyond traditional measures.

Customers become more valuable at each step of an “emotional connection pathway” as they transition from (1) being unconnected to (2) being highly satisfied to (3) perceiving brand differentiation to (4) being fully connected. Research shows that out of 62% of consumers who said that they have an emotional connection to a brand, 76% have been using this brand for 4 years or more. 

Emotions vs logic in marketing

Picture 2. Logic vs Emotions in Marketing

What is the value of an emotionally connected customer?

They tend to spend more

According to research, emotionally connected customers spend a whopping 70% more in comparison to those who’re not. So taking that extra step and trying to connect with your customers in a more meaningful and profound way is worth a shot.

You’re always on their mind

If you’ve managed to satisfy your customers’ needs and speak to them like an old friend, no wonder they’ll come to you for a solution to their problem. Whenever they’re in need of something, if it was anything related to your industry, they’ll first think of you. Talking about a real boost for your sales!

They become your brand ambassadors

And isn’t this the ultimate goal? Word of mouth is still the strongest marketing strategy that works every time, so if you’ve made someone happy, this someone will spread the word about it. So you get them as returning customers, and their friends and family in addition.


Emotions are personal, so under what circumstances should a brand have the right to access and analyze them? While the mainstream use of emotion analytics software may be far away, having all of the previous said in mind, it is important to implement emotional content in all future marketing strategies.

Consumers who are emotionally connected to a brand are worth two times more to a business than the average highly satisfied customer. They will trust the brand more, make more purchases and follow different communication channels more intently. An emotional connection with consumers is the secret to a powerful marketing strategy and considerable financial gain.

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Is the Future of Marketing Driven by Emotion? was last modified: June 30th, 2020 by Milica Vujasin
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