Emotional connections can be powerful motivators for consumers. Understanding consumers’ emotional motivators enables companies to leverage the elements that trigger consumer behavior as part of a strategy for growing sales and profits. In this article, we explore what emotional motivators are and how you can use them strategically in your business.
Emotional motivators refer to the feelings that drive customer behavior. Studying emotional motivators can provide companies with an understanding of a customer’s value in terms of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. By analyzing customers’ emotional motivators, a company can conduct experiments to understand how emotional connections can help attract and retain customers.
In an effort to better define emotional motivators, Harvard Business Review put together a list of these motivators. They describe a customer’s emotional connection with a brand in terms of alignment with the customer’s motivations and the fulfillment of deep and often unconscious desires. These motivators may include a desire to feel confident or successful and to feel a sense of belonging or, alternatively, feel that they stand out from the crowd.
Identifying emotional motivators is complicated by the fact that consumers themselves are often not aware of what is driving their behavior. The emotional motivators to which they respond can be different from the responses they give when asked about their purchasing behavior. In addition, consumers’ emotional motivators can vary depending on the type of product and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Why do emotional motivators matter? Most brands, even successful ones, don’t do a good job of aligning themselves with their customers’ emotional motivators. Companies tend to focus their efforts on dissatisfied customers and ways to convert them into satisfied customers. However, research indicates that it is far more effective to focus on turning highly satisfied customers into fully connected customers, resulting in three times the ROI of turning an emotionally unconnected customer into a highly satisfied customer.
Categories in which consumers are emotionally invested
Consumers’ attitudes vary widely in relation to different categories of purchases. Consumers are typically more emotionally connected for certain categories of purchases. There are positive associations with items such as beer and wine, for example. Consumers are likely to be emotionally motivated when purchasing items for a loved one, such as a child or even a pet. Other categories, such as household items, over-the-counter medications, and utilities are associated with feelings of stress and less emotional investment. The categories in which consumers are most emotionally invested are expensive or public-facing purchases such as automobiles, luxury goods, fashion, travel, and social media.
In general, a consumer’s emotional investment in a particular category is closely connected with their past experience and future expectations. It also can be influenced by the shared experiences of others — on social media, for example. In addition, consumers want to feel that a company cares about them, and this is true across all categories.
How to put emotional motivators to work
By studying the strength of your customers’ emotional connection to your brand, you can determine where to invest resources to get the best ROI. Customers who are emotionally fully connected are likely to account for a disproportionate share of revenue relative to their overall percentage of customer base. In addition, the research by Harvard Business Review showed that moving a customer from satisfied to fully connected resulted in a 52% increase in customer value.
Determine the most important category motivators for your brand. Strengthening the customer experience for emotional motivators that result in a fully connected customer was shown in the Harvard research to result in the highest ROI. Those specific motivators — a feeling of freedom or a feeling of success, for example — should be a driver for customer experience investments.
Take a look at customer touch points to identify ways to enhance emotional motivators. By mapping the locations of fully connected customers, brands can make better determinations about store locations that can lead to a higher ROI. Omnichannel touch points, such as social media and mobile apps, should be analyzed for potential impact on emotional motivators. A great mobile site, for example, can be associated with a feeling of freedom or a feeling of belonging. Analyzing point-of-sale data for fully connected customers can help brands identify opportunities for improvements in merchandising. Target fully connected customers with emails designed to trigger emotional motivators at each stage of the buyer’s journey. At the initial interest stage, a sense of well-being may motivate your customer, while their purchase decision may be driven by confidence in the future.
Pursuing emotional motivators as a strategy enables a brand to better manage the elements that trigger consumer behavior. By aligning your brand with customers’ emotional motivators, you can better focus investments that strengthen the customer experience and convert a highly satisfied customer into a fully connected customer.