The Advantage of Emotions

In business school most of us were taught about economic man. He is totally rational, preferring the cheapest good in every case. He doesn't care about form or design, just functionality. Yet anyone who has spent time in the business world knows that consumer decisions are usually as much emotion as they are logic. As a result, learning to motivate consumers through emotion is an important part of any marketing campaign.

"Passion branding" is just what it sounds like: marketing that seeks to link a consumer's passions with commercial brands. Its spirit is expressed by the likes of the laundry detergent ad that says, in effect: You can count on kids to get dirty. That's a normal part of life. You can count on this detergent to clean your kids' dirty clothes. That's a normal part of your life.

This personal kind of soap pitch emerged for the international suds giant Unilever in Brazil and spread worldwide, notes Michael Brockbank, the company's Vice President of Brand Communication, in Passion Branding: Harnessing the Power of Emotion to Build Strong Brands, by Neil Duffy, with Jo Hooper.

In the book, Brockbank explains that in general there a not many of "our brands which consumers feel passionate about. So, we look for areas of activity, relevant to our consumers, that they do feel passionate about and try to share their passion in a relevant way." Put simply, people will buy a product from a company that shares their interests and, as the opening quote suggests, adopt a brand as a family fixture, thus ensuring reliable repeat customers.

This is why aesthetics, presentation, customer service, and all those intangible aspects of a business are so important now. There is a problem though…

Duffy also cautions that it can be a challenge to tangibly measure a campaign's success. One reason is that passion branding campaigns target intangible benefits just as much as tangible ones. "Measurements of the benefits of passion branding will never be a science," Duffy concludes. And the "wad of press cuttings" or amount of news articles generated don't count.

What needs to be measured, Duffy stresses, is not output, but effect — that is, does the customer who experienced the passion branding campaign buy the product? He says detractors contend that passion branding's direct cause and effect is impossible to measure. But he disagrees, and points to a measurement tool that his office at Octagon, working with an outside media agency, developed to track elements such as consumer awareness, response, perceptions, loyalty and "propensity to purchase."

Can we accurately measure the passion we have created? Not in a direct way, but it will be evident when you hear people telling others about your product or service, or sending you letters about how great you are. In this day and age, with all the disposable income most people have, emotions matter, and will have an ever increasing impact on the purchase of products and services.

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