Emotions in Marketing: From Feeling to Buying

Marketing October 5, 2015

We are all hardwired to feel certain emotions based on the type of stimulus we are exposed to. You feel happy when you receive good news, scared when you’re threatened or disappointed when something doesn’t go as planned—and this is something that marketers capitalize on all the time. You see, studies show that feelings can affect our actions, which is what marketing, at its very essence, is trying to do. Long story short, if you can trigger certain emotions in the consumer, then, chances are, you can also make them do what you want them to do.

So, how exactly does it work? Let’s go over different emotions and how they affect the consumer:

Happiness = desire to share


Want your content to go viral? Shoot for happiness. Happy people feel an overwhelming positivity that needs to be shared. We’re all hardwired to do it, and doing so is fulfilling and makes us feel even better. The same thing goes for other similar positive emotions like amusement, delight and pleasure.

Fear = increased brand loyalty



Fear, on the other hand, makes us want to be with someone who we can share the feeling with. It drives us to crave for a bond that would help lighten the mood. Studies show that this helps build a stronger connection between brands and consumers because the former acts as the “someone” that helps make the latter feel better.

Other emotions that trigger a similar response are depression, anxiety and shock.

Anger = adamancy

Angry Face by Ryan Hyde on Flickr

Now, if you want someone to stand firmly by their decision, then you’d want to get them angry (or at least feeling something close to it). This is perfect for advocacies and other projects that rely heavily on people choosing a side or making a decision and then being steadfast about it.

Other strong emotions like disgust tend to have a similar effect.

Sadness = compassion, generosity, and trust


Have you ever seen those heartbreaking Thai insurance company ads? No? Here’s one. I never really understood the need for the excessive sadness until I learned about the importance of emotions in marketing. Naturally, insurance companies rely heavily on their consumers’ trust to succeed and crafting their ads this way helps build just that.

Charitable institutions would also benefit from using sorrowful ads because the emotion also triggers feelings of empathy and openhandedness.

What about reason?

Well, the problem with appealing to reason is that it’s highly practical, which makes it unreceptive to marketing. Think about it. If we all used our reason when it comes to making purchases, then no one would buy anything they didn’t need. No one would shell out cash for overpriced coffees, designer clothes and accessories and top-of-the-line gadgets packed with features that very few people ever actually use.

Fortunately for marketers, this isn’t the case. People splurge on food when they’re stressed, reward themselves with expensive things when they succeed or go out for some pampering when they’re sad. Our spending habits are obviously guided by our emotions, and this is why good marketers ensure that everything they do triggers some form of emotional response from the consumer.

A more detailed write-up on the subject is available here.

How did this post make you feel? Tell us in the comments!

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