Girls are Emotional? You mean, Brands.

19 Feb

In his book How Customers Think, Gerald Zaltman states that 95% of purchases are motivated from the subconscious, the home of your emotions. For the dramatic effect, let’s repeat that statistic: 95%!!! You could say that marketers are playing with your heartstrings, because emotional branding (brands that appeal to emotions) engages consumers and at the end of the day, it seals the deal.

According to the FastCompany article Time To Get Emotional, emotional branding has transformed from “oh that is nice to know” to absolutely essential in creating a connection between a consumer and a brand. Marc Gobe’s article, Emotional Branding: Fuel for Success in the 21st Century agrees. Because “brand do not belong to corporations anymore, but to people!”

The consumer expects a brand to know him/her and his/her needs. However, connecting with a brand goes beyond a need; it is about the experience. A need is purchased based on convenience and price, and if a brand is going to connect with a consumer and capture them for the long haul, then fulfill a customer’s desires.

Bottom line? To all you brands out there, start a conversation. With your consumers. And get to know them really well because personal dialogue is going to appeal to your customers’ emotions.

Spending with your Heart or with your Head?

I think one of the clearest examples of emotional branding is the connection that people feel with social causes. Tell me you have seen the ASPCA commercial where “In the Arms of an Angel” plays while showing pictures of  abused cats and dogs. It is a tear-jerker. My mother literally cannot watch this commercial because it upsets her. Fun Fact? She is a volunteer at the Greensboro Animal Shelter because she says her job is to “love on dogs.” She also gives dog food and sponsors families to adopt pets during the Holiday Season. My mother supports this social cause because of the emotional effect.

If you have not seen it, watch at your own risk!

I took this hypothesis a step further and took a mini-poll on students’ favorite non-profits and why.

Here is what I found:

Photo Credit by Star Shuping

A Stick From Chase: Little Boy with his First Lacrosse Stick
Photo Credit by Star Shuping

Sarah Moran, junior at East Carolina University: A Stick From Chase, an organization that distributes miniature lacrosse sticks to young children in memory of Chase Bunting’s generous spirit and lacrosse legacy. Sarah says, “It is my favorite because it embodies hope for young boys and gives them the chance at a bright future, one as bright as Chase’s was.” Sarah knew Chase and watched him blossom into a young athlete being recruited by college coaches.

Peter Goltz, freshman at Elon University: Boys and Girls Club of America, because it is where he used to play basketball after school. This non-profit embodies Peter’s enthusiasm for staying physically active. Peter recently was hired at Elon University Campus Rec because of his passion for fitness.

Brian Sharnsky, senior at Elon University: Victory Junction Gang Camp, an organization founded in memory of Adam Petty, the late grandson of NASCAR legend Richard Petty. Sharnksy says, “Victory Junction allows kids to forget about their sicknesses. It lets them just be kids.” Sharnsky is NASCAR fan and the two of us totally bonded over our favorite non-profit.

Between each of these organizations and individuals, an emotion has been generated that provokes donations and support. Whether it is happiness or sadness, people purchase on emotion. In Clow’s textbook Integrated Advertising, Promotion and Marketing Communications, he defines brand equity as “a set of characteristics unique to a brand.” I have drawn my own conclusion about brand equity for non-profits. Instead of securing shelf space, brand equity for a non-profit is securing a place in peoples’ hearts. Instead of allowing manufacturers to charge more for products, brand equity for a non-profit is increasing the tax-deductable donations.

The take home message for today: It is inevitable! Marketers and brands are playing your heartstrings. Why? Because it works.


This blog post is a part of Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.


3 Responses to “Girls are Emotional? You mean, Brands.”

  1. alessandralosa February 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm #


    I thought all of the points on which you touched were 100% true and very easy to understand. Using the ASPCA video really hit the main point on how emotional marketing/branding really does have an effect on how people act. Your comment on how people “purchase an emotion” really hit home with me because you think about all of the products you buy, all of the television you watch, even the relationships you choose to have all rely on one’s emotion. When you buy a product it is because you think that it will make you feel good or it is a need you are fulfilling which also makes you feel less stressed and worried. When you watch your favorite television show it is because that show makes you happy or sad or whatever, but you enjoy watching it because it has a hold on you, and it is not so much the show that has the hold on you but it is the emotional connection you make with the show. The relationships you invest in, you do that because they make you happy, those people make you happy (most of the time!) and so you invest time and sometimes money too!

    Even to go as far to say that nonprofits also use this emotional tactic almost more than the for profit. They use empathy and sympathy to play with the “heart strings” as you said (nice phrase by the way!). Using both of these emotions is easy because put a child with IVs coming out of their arms and you have everyone that cares for children and even those that don’t think to themselves, “wow that is really sad.”

    Very well written blog and really got me intrigued to think about the whole topic! Your personal research also really added value to your post.

  2. Paul Robinson February 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Hey Ashley, I agree with almost everything you have to say in your post. I know we touched upon it last class about how much emotion is too much (ASPCA commercial). In regards to this I thought Holly’s point about heartache to hope was spot on. This is a personal opinion, but i think the ASPCA commercial may have too much heartache and not enough hope. Maybe I haven’t watched the commercial enough because I usually change the channel but I feel the commercial could do more than showing just a few seconds of animals being adopted or taken care of. Maybe they should run a commercial that shows personal testimonials of people that have taken in animals that have been abused and are now in better places to show the true impact of the program. Just a though, but again, great post.

  3. ashleybunting February 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    I know the ASPCA commercial is really intense…
    Change of pace, check out this news clip that aired last week in the Triad area.
    My Mom’s TV debut! It really highlights her passion for the dogs at the Animal Shelter.

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