The Science of Customer Emotions


Role of Emotions in Market Research 03
Table of Contents

The Value of Customer Emotions

Companies are gradually becoming aware of the importance of customer emotions and their effect on customer-brand relationships. Companies can create new value by navigating emotional connections with customers like it’s a science so that effective strategies can be developed to elevate customer experience (CX). 

“Emotional motivators” are the factors and strategies that target customer emotions and drive behavior. These motivators can provide an indication of customers’ future value to an organization and can also indicate the degree of customer satisfaction and brand awareness. Companies can leverage this knowledge of their customers’ emotional motivators to attract and retain their high-value customers. But how? 

By creating a systematic and structured framework that can be used to learn about customers’ emotional motivators and then conducting experiments to validate the impacts of these motivators, firms can develop a detailed understanding of the key emotional motivators that drive consumer behavior.

Exploratory Research Guide

Conducting exploratory research seems tricky but an effective guide can help.

How to Define Emotional Motivators

There are a plethora of “emotional motivators” that influence consumer behavior, some are more category-specific while others (such as a sense of uniqueness and a sense of security) are common across most categories.

Companies often struggle with the task of defining emotional motivators as customers themselves may not be consciously aware of these sentiments. Additionally, even once these motivators are defined, it is another complicated task to link these factors to results so that their impact on customer behavior can be measured.

The Ways in which Emotional Connections Vary

The emotional connections developed between customers and company offerings will vary across brands, touchpoints, and industries. By leveraging the power of big data analytics to comprehensive consumer-data sets, companies can identify the emotional motivators for the high-value customers within a specific category. 

Then, statistical modeling can be used to study a large number of brands and customers by comparing survey results on customers’ emotional motivators with their purchase behavior to identify spikes in buying. This will reveal which emotional motivators have a larger influence on buying behavior than others. Then, the current and potential value of each emotional motivator is quantified so that strategies can be developed to leverage them. 

This model can also be used to compare the effectiveness of creating strong emotional bonds with the effectiveness of performing well on standard customer metrics such as customer satisfaction. 

We can categorize the degree of emotional connection felt by a customer on the following scale:

  • 1: Not Emotionally Connected
  • 2: Highly Satisfied but not Fully Connected
  • 3: Perceive Brand Differentiation, Satisfied, but not Fully Connected
  • 4: Fully Connected, Satisfied, and able to Perceive Brand Differentiation

As customers move along this emotional connection pathway, they become more predictable and more valuable. 

Another area that brands need to focus on is the building of emotional connections in the omnichannel environment. With an increasing amount of customer-brand interactions taking place digitally rather than in physical store environments, brands must take measures and devise strategies with the goal of optimizing online and omnichannel experiences for emotional connections.

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Valuable Insights on Emotional Connections

Here are three valuable insights that companies can leverage while trying to build an emotional connection with their customers: 

  • Motivators Vary by Brand and Category: Although there are certain motivators that are relevant across most brands and categories, there are many that are brand and category-specific. 
  • Motivators Vary by Customer Segment: The impact of different emotional motivators on customer behavior will vary based on the customer segment. 
  • Growth Opportunities Exist Across Many Points of the Customer Experience: In order to create stronger emotional connections with customers, companies must acknowledge the impact of their growth opportunities across all aspects of customer experience, beyond traditional brand positioning and advertising.

What are the Disadvantages of Secondary Research?

There are four stages in the emotional connection pathway;

  • 1: Not Emotionally Connected
  • 2: Highly Satisfied  
  • 3: Perceive Brand Differentiation
  • 4: Fully Connected

An emotional motivator is a factor that targets customer emotions and drives behavior.

Although there are certain emotional motivators that are relevant across many categories, many emotional motivators are category-specific and can also vary by brand, industry, customer segment, and touchpoint within the customer journey.

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