Most consumers believe that the purchasing decisions they make are derived from a rational thought process that considers available alternatives. However, the reality is that emotions have a tremendous influence and they are frequently the determining factor in purchasing decisions.
Emotions are a factor in almost all of the decisions humans make. When people need to make a decision, emotions from past experiences that are related to the current decisions assign values to the options under consideration. These emotions lead to preferences which influence decisions. Studies have been conducted on individuals who had brain damage that caused a disconnect between the rational thinking and the emotional portions of their brain. These individuals had the capacity to process information rationally regarding alternate choices, however, they were not able to come to a decision since they had no sense of their feelings regarding the various options.
The influence of emotions on consumer purchasing decisions is documented very well:
• Advertising research demonstrates that a person’s buying intent is influenced to a far greater degree by emotional response to an advertisement as opposed to the actual content of an ad. For textual ads the ratio is 2:1, and for video ads it is 3:1.
• Neurological-imagery using an MRI demonstrates that when consumers are evaluating a brand, they mainly make use of emotions like experiences and personal feelings as opposed to information like facts, features, and brand attributes.
• Advertising research has led to the conclusion that “likeability” is the emotional predictor that best determines if an ad will increase the sales of a brand.
• Studies have also revealed that the positive emotions that are elicited by a brand have much more influence upon the loyalty of consumers than factors such as trust, and additional judgements that are based upon the attributes of a brand.
The main reasons consumers have a preference for products with a brand name are emotional. For example, a lot of products purchased by consumers are available in less expensive store or generic brands with identical ingredients. Why do people pay a higher price for branded products?
A well-known brand has a strong market presence because it has connected emotionally with consumers. A brand is really a mental picture of a service or product in the minds of consumers. If this mental picture consists solely of the features and attributes of a product then there aren’t any emotional connections that will influence the preferences and actions of consumers. Brands that have rich emotional content are more likely to have loyal consumers.
While emotions may be effectively communicated in text ads or video, there are additional brand components that include emotional dimensions. For instance:
• Powerful mental images of brands include their personality. Research has shown that consumers attribute personality traits to brands in a similar way that they do with other people. In addition, they have a greater attraction to some traits than others, similar to their assessment of people. The personality of a brand is conveyed via visual imagery, packaging, and the wording used when describing the brand.
• An additional factor in the emotions that a brand elicits will be in its narrative. This is the story of a brand that communicates who the brand is, how this relates to consumers, and why this is important to consumers. Brand promotion and advertising is based on this narrative.
The key component of emotions is that they are a driving force for consumer action. People are compelled to act when responding to emotions. When people are confronted with physical danger, fear is the driving emotion that makes people decide upon flight or fight to preserve their life. In daily social confrontations, a sense of insecurity could prompt someone to purchase the most recent model of car to bolster a positive self-identity.
Many marketers have come up with theories regarding the reasons consumers make purchases. Many of these theories are errant because they are viewing consumers through a product lens. Marketers will begin with the benefits and features of a product or service and then engage in consumer research to identify corresponding motivations and needs.
Internet marketers have added new theories to predict and explain the behaviour of consumers. This approach views consumers via a digital technology lens. Nevertheless, web marketers often misinterpret data regarding online activity as being a legitimate perception of the decision making process of consumers.
Consumer behaviour does not fundamentally change in order to accommodate the most recent technological innovations. In order to understand the purchasing behaviour of consumers you must base your understanding on human emotions and the very large influence emotions have upon the decision making process.
Check out this video for more on the psychology of buying: