March 4, 2024

Emotions and Marketing: Why They’re Critical to Success

by marc

Emotions and marketing work together to forge a deeper connection between a brand and its customers.

To often brands simply try to communicate facts and figures aiming at a customers rationality! Although it might seem obvious to state a product’s features and functions in order to help individuals who seek justification for their purchase decisions, creating emotional engagement is pivotal.

As studies show, emotional engagement between a brand and its consumers can not only significantly enhance recall, but also brand loyalty, and purchasing decisions.

In this article we’ll have a deeper look at how emotional marketing works and give you some tools for you next marketing campaign.

Table Of Contents:

How humans make decisions

Firstly, it’s essential to recognize that human decision-making is not solely governed by logic. In fact, it’s deeply influenced by emotions. This premise forms the backbone of emotional marketing strategies which aim to evoke specific feelings such as happiness, nostalgia, or even fear to drive consumer actions.

“Emotional responses to advertising can have a far greater influence on intent to buy than ad content itself.” – A nugget from Psychology Today

In marketing, the decision-making processes of individuals as they select, purchase, experience, and dispose of products or services is known as the customer behaviour. This journey is influenced by multiple factors including personal preferences, cultural norms, social pressures, economic conditions, and psychological triggers.

Thus, customer behaviour can be visualised as a cycle, called the customer journey, that begins with recognising a need or desire. This prompts information search and evaluation of alternatives based on various criteria such as price, quality, convenience, and emotional appeal. And usually culminates with a purchase decision.  

However, the journey doesn’t end there. Post-purchase evaluations influence future behaviours — satisfaction can lead to loyalty while disappointment might result in brand switching.

“95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious and heavily influenced by emotion.” – Gerald Zaltman, Harvard Professor via Forbes

How emotions influence the customer journey

Emotions play an instrumental role throughout the entire customer journey but are particularly impactful during the evaluation phase and post-purchase reflection. Emotional connection colour perceptions and shape experiences in different ways. For example:

  1. Joy from using a product enhances perceived value 
  2. Trust in a brand reduces perceived risk 
  3. Nostalgia invoked by marketing campaigns can sway preference towards familiar products even if logically superior options exist (Think of the Volkswagen “The Force Commercial”)

Thus, marketers campaigns leveraging emotional appeals can create positive associations with their brands that go beyond rational analysis—they seek to become part of consumers’ identities or life stories (like Apple or Tesla). 

A compelling narrative infused with genuine emotion can transform indifference into interest and skepticism into loyalty! 

These marketing efforts are effective because humans are not just rational beings making decisions based solely on logic; we’re also emotionally driven creatures whose choices are significantly influenced by how we feel about those options before us.

Using emotions can therefore be a powerful catalysts in decision-making processes for several reasons:

  • Memory Connection: Emotionally charged events are remembered more vividly and for longer periods than neutral ones. Marketing campaigns leveraging positive emotions such as happiness or surprise can ensure brands remain top-of-mind.
  • Brand Differentiation: In saturated markets, functional benefits alone may not suffice to distinguish one product from another effectively. Emotional marketing offers a unique proposition—connecting at an individual level based on shared values or evoked feelings.
  • Customer Loyalty: Emotional connections foster loyalty far beyond any contractual obligation could ever achieve—a sentiment captured succinctly in Maya Angelou’s words: “People will forget what you said… but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  • Viral Potential: As Jonah Berger has shown in his book “Contagious, Why Things Catch On”, content that sparks strong emotions—be it joy, awe, or even righteous indignation—is more likely to be shared widely across social networks, amplifying reach organically.
“Emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend products or services.” – Findings published in Journal Of Marketing Research via SAGE Journals

Not all emotions are equal

Different emotions cater to different marketing goals. Let’s see a few, non exhaustive, examples.


Joy is a powerful emotion that often results in content being widely shared across social networks (as does anger!). This not only amplifies the reach of your content and it’s message but also enhances its acceptance through positive reinforcement from peers, thus increasing its viral potential. Brands aiming for brand awareness or looking to highlight positive outcomes associated with their products find leveraging joy an effective strategy.

For instance, an advertisement leveraging joy might show families enjoying a product together during holidays fostering warmth and connection among viewers and towards the brand. An emotional marketing campaigns like the “Share a Coke” Campaign plays on the joy consumer get when they see a bottle wither their name on it.

Share a Cock campagne, emotional marketing on


Surprise, on the other hand, captures attention by breaking patterns or expectations. When consumers encounter surprising content, their natural response is heightened curiosity and engagement—making them more receptive to the information presented. Marketers use surprise to make memorable impressions and ensure that key messages stand out amidst a sea of mundane communications.

In Switzerland, a great example of campaigns leveraging surprise are the ones from Galaxus playing on well known campaign stereotypes before braking the pattern to grab our attention.


Sadness plays a complex role in marketing by tapping into deep-seated empathetic responses. By carefully narrating stories of struggle, loss, or transformation, brands can create profound emotional connections with their audience. 

Such narratives, often used by NGOs seeking donations, encourage viewers to reflect deeply on their values and experiences—a process through which brand attributes become intertwined with personal identities. This approach must be employed ethically, to avoid negative impacts on brand value!


Fear is often used to motivate immediate action or highlight risks associated with not using a product (FOMO). Tapping into this human emotion requires a delicate balance as excessive fear can backfire. If used in conjunction with constructive solutions, fear can effectively drive home importance of taking action without causing distress or turn-off to the audience.


Lastly, humour engages customers by providing relief and amusement. It lightens discussions around potentially dry topics, making them more accessible and enjoyable. Through laughter, a sense of camaraderie is fostered between brand and consumer, paving the way for stronger relationships and loyalty. Humour also has unique stickiness—people are likely to remember and enjoy brands that make them laugh, solidifying brand recall.

An emblematic campagne that used humour is the Budweiser wassup campaign from the late 1990!

Know your customer

To integrate emotion effectively in your marketing requires understanding your audience deeply—their desires, fears, aspirations—and crafting messages that speak directly to these sentiments in authentic ways.

What moves your customers? 

Only by understanding your customers, will you be able to show empathy and making interactions with your brand feel authentic and more personal rather than purely transactional.

“Understanding your target audience is crucial for creating an effective emotional bond.”

To truly understand what motivates and moves your customers, you can start by actively listening to their conversations across various platforms. Social media interactions, customer reviews, feedback forms, as well as direct communications all provide invaluable insights into the emotional pulse of your audience. 

Utilizing data analytics tools can also help identify patterns in consumer behaviour that may hint at deeper emotional undercurrents driving their decisions. 

Conducting qualitative research such as interviews or focus groups offers another layer of depth to this understanding. These interactions provide firsthand accounts of what customers value about your product or service. And perhaps more importantly, why they value it. The stories they share during these sessions often reveal the emotional journeys behind purchasing decisions.

With all those insights you can then create different Customer Personas based on different customer segments. This will help you to further refine your approach by humanising data points into relatable characters with specific emotional profiles. 

By envisioning how these personas interact with your brand at every touchpoint—from initial awareness through post-purchase—you can better anticipate their needs and tailor experiences that evoke positive emotions.

Check this article for an in depth review of the different stages of the marketing funnel: Navigating the marketing funnel (part 1)

Putting it all together with storytelling

By crafting narratives steeped in relatable emotions discovered previously, you have the tools to transcend mere transactions and forge genuine connections with your audience and creating successful advertising campaigns.

Take Nike’s “Just Do It” campaigns as an example; The emotional content narrates tales of resilience and victory over challenges, sparking feelings of motivation.

Here are 6 steps you can follow to effectively apply storytelling in your emotional marketing:

  1. Start with the Personas you identified: What kind of story would speak directly to their hearts. Use your research data, like demographic and psychographic data alongside customer feedback you gathered.
  2. Identify relatable themes: Choose themes for your stories based on the emotions most relevant to your audience’s experience and your brand’s values. Whether it’s overcoming adversity (triumph), experiencing joy through connection (belonging), or embarking on new adventures (exploration), these themes should align naturally with what you stand for as a brand.
  3. Develop authentic characters: People relate best to other people not faceless entities. Which is why creating characters that embody real-life struggles and aspirations can significantly enhance empathy and engagement within your content.
  4. Structure your story effectively: Every good story has a beginning (setting up the challenge or desire), middle (the journey or conflict), and end (resolution). How does using your product or engaging with your brand transform lives? Showcase this transformation journey through clear storytelling arcs.
  5. Incorporate sensory details: To truly immerse your audience in the story, include vivid sensory details. What characters see, hear, feel help evoke stronger emotional responses and make effective emotional marketing campaigns more memorable.
  6. Use multiple mediums: Stories can be told across various platforms, each one enhancing the storytelling experience and reaching your audience where they are most engaged:
    1.  Use video testimonials capturing real-life transformations facilitated by your products/services; 
    2. blog posts delving deep into personal journeys; 
    3. social media posts highlighting moments of joy/success attributed to your brand. 

In addition to storytelling, visuals play a vital role in evoking emotions. Images offer an effective way to convey complex ideas swiftly and stir potent emotions without using words at all.

Lastly, don’t forget to embrace authenticity!  This cannot be overstated.

In a world increasingly dominated by social media, where every post and interaction is scrutinised for genuineness, the importance of grounding emotions in authenticity becomes paramount.

Emotions wield power but only when they stem from authentic places. Manipulative tactics may backfire, breeding distrust among an audience that values transparency above all else. Knowing your audience is crucial! Your authenticity must be aligned with your customer’s value to avoid backlash (Bud Light is still paying the price of it’s TikTok campaign).

Conversely, sincere efforts aimed at genuinely improving customer experiences will likely foster lasting relationships based on trust and respect. This is a critical foundation in today’s digital age where genuine connections are cherished and sought after more than ever before.


The journey through emotions and marketing is a delicate yet powerful endeavour that seeks to bridge the gap between brands and consumers on a more profound human level.

By understanding the process of decision-making influenced by both logic and emotion, marketers can craft strategies grounded in authenticity that resonate deeply with their audience’s core desires and values. 

Now it’s your turn! 

If you need help crafting marketing strategies for a world dominated by social media, let’s get in touch.

FAQs in Relation to Emotions and Marketing

How are emotions used in marketing?

Emotions in marketing stir up feelings within consumers to drive decision-making. They can evoke positive responses, such as joy or trust, compelling customers to engage with a brand or product.

Why is emotion so important in marketing?

Emotion is vital because it influences consumer behaviour and decisions. Emotional connections often override logic, making them powerful tools for marketers aiming to drive conversions and loyalty.

What is the relationship between emotions and marketing strategy?

The bond lies in using emotional triggers strategically to resonate with target audiences, creating memorable experiences that boost brand perception and customer engagement.

What does emotion mean in marketing?

In a marketing context, emotion refers to tactics aimed at evoking specific feelings among consumers, such as happiness or nostalgia, to influence their attitudes towards a product or service.


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