8 reasons to understand Consumer Emotional journeys.


1.     What do consumers really mean when they say they “like” your product?

Liking is an emotional response. Consumers are very poor at expressing what they mean when they say they “like” something or why they like it. It is like asking someone what Coca Cola tastes like – “well, it tastes like coke”. But when you can deconstruct the emotional journey that leads to “liking” and the important communication, sensorial, experiential cues that prompt liking and preference, then you can really understand what it is about your product that creates affection and repeat usage and how this can be improved or replicated elsewhere.

2.     Understanding what it is your consumers want from your product

Customers prefer a product because they think it does what they want better than other products do. Their explanation of this is invariably rational and expressed in the very language that the sector uses to describe itself. However consumers’ measurement of satisfaction is emotional and not rational – it feels/smells fresher, it satisfies my thirst/hunger better, it looks/feels more natural, it makes me feel better. Marketers, Product Developers etc. need to understand the emotional requirements of the consumer and how these are met. Satisfy the consumers’ emotional requirements and they believe that the product is doing its job well.

3.     Gain a better understanding of how your product delivers

Your product does the job that it is designed to do. It satisfies thirst or hunger, it cleans/deodorises, relieves pain/discomfort, so why do consumers prefer the competition? The consumer needs to believe in your product, they need to believe that it is better than the others. This is not about its physical performance, it is about how it makes them feel. It is about your communication and presentation, about how the product feels in use, does product usage meet, exceed or fall short of expectation? These are emotional responses many of which the consumer cannot, or will not, rationalise. But Emotional Profiling will explain which features of your communication, presentation, product experience etc. prompt positive consumer response and why.

4.     Improving Product Development

Brands that profile the product or consumer experience and seek to improve it have development pipelines full of product variations such as flavour, texture, aroma etc. to broaden appeal and packaging or other variants to broaden use.

However, brands that Profile the Emotional experience of their consumers really understand what it is that they deliver and how their products do that.

This understanding enables them to save costs by removing superfluous ingredients or features that add nothing to the emotional delivery, to identify imaginative/inventive ways of delivering the same – and even improved – emotional responses in quite different ways and thus widen the product portfolio and to take the emotional delivery of the brand into completely different areas thus growing the brand.

5.     Understanding the effects of Product Changes

Sometimes product changes are inevitable due to manufacturing change, regulation change, consumer/government demand, to save costs etc. But how will these affect the taste/performance/consumer preference for the product. While sensory testing may tell you if the changes are noticeable only Emotional Profiling will tell you if these changes are important and how you can communicate them.

Does the change in the taste/performance of your product actually affect the consumers’ emotional response to it? Is this effect a positive or a negative one? Can the way that you communicate it influence the way that it is perceived?

6.     Improving Communications

Your communications and product presentation affect the consumers’ emotional response to its performance. Emotional Profiling looks at the whole consumer journey from category expectations, through category and brand communications, product experience and back to how this affects response to the category, the brand, communications etc.

When you really understand the consumers’ emotional journey you can tailor your communications, presentation etc. to trump the competition, to set up the right expectations for your product performance, to direct consumer attention to your positively discriminating features etc. etc…

7.     Understanding Category Changes

Your brand was the top performer, volume and value streaks ahead of the competition, but over the years it has lost ground, new players are taking share, customer loyalty is shifting away from you. You have improved the product, updated the advertising and image but are still losing share. Customer expectations in your category have shifted, this may be due to changing consumer values (attitudes to fat, salt, sugar, naturalness, sustainability, tastes, aromas etc.), maybe competitor activity has shifted expectation or attitudes away from your offering, maybe societal attitudes, fashions or changes in another category altogether are spilling over into yours.

Traditional research, product or communications adjustments are not providing the answer. Emotional Profiling goes to the core of what consumers want from your brand and what they are getting. It identifies the positive and negative emotional cues that different features of your brand are prompting in consumers.

An holistic review of how your brand delivers – and does not deliver – to consumers and what competitors are doing better or not as well as you. Clear actionable recommendations for product, communications, presentation etc. to regain your previous leadership.

8.     Getting to the bottom of the Unanswerable Questions

Sometimes there are questions that just refuse to be answered. Sticky problems that just hang around hindering brand performance, intractable issues that bring product development or product launches to a halt. The marketers are very clear what they want but the product developers cannot work out how to deliver it, the product developers have a great product but the marketers don’t understand it.

Emotional Profiling will get to the root of the problem. Every brand/product success hinges on the consumers’ emotional response to it. Understand their emotional response and how and why that response is produced by the brand/ product and how it can be improved, changed and better communicated. Ultimately, this will give you the edge over your competitors, driving consumer preference and brand loyalty.

Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands