Think and act Emotionally, not Logically


Sales are falling, your market share is shrinking. The problem is easy to identify, but the solution does not seem to be quite as straight forward.

You have improved your product, changed the advertising, adjusted your price, but you are still losing sales and market share.

You need to find a new competitive edge or the plug may be pulled, you will lose brand budget, advertising support and product development will be cut, and you may be looking for a new job.

It is time to try a different approach.

Consumers act emotionally not logically

Consumers (and we are all consumers in one way or another) do not respond logically. We know this (Kahneman wrote Thinking Fast and Slow over 10 years ago) and yet so much that we do with our brands tends to be logical and we expect a rational response – reduce the price, improve the appearance, the performance or the taste.

Your product may be better than your competitors, but that does not necessarily mean that consumers will prefer it.

Improve your products emotional appeal to consumers

If you can understand the consumers’ emotional – System 1 – thinking, then you can improve your brands emotional appeal to your consumers. Stop thinking logically, start thinking emotionally (like your consumers).

In 2019 Nestlé in South Africa had a significant brand that had always been a market leader but was now losing its prominence to a competitive brand. The competitor was not as good, and consumers would tell you as much, but it was “nearly as good” and could invariably be bought on offer.

The Nestlé team had done all the usual stuff. They had improved the product, they had changed the advertising, but they were now caught up in a trading battle and were losing margin as well as share.

They were contemplating further product improvements when they asked The Marketing Clinic to look at the situation.

We identified the emotional benefit of the Nestlé product over the competitor. What it was in the consumer’s mind that made the Nestlé product better.

We stopped Nestlé from making any further expensive product changes and showed them how to capture this emotional benefit in their advertising and communications.

This small change in just their communications showed fast results. First a return of consumer stated preference for the Nestlé product, followed by a recovery in sales, market share and in margin.

Understanding consumers’ emotional – System 1 – thinking is the most powerful tool in the brand owner’s armoury.

Small adjustments in your communications or product features can make significant differences to performance – invariably at quite low cost.

Acting logically is what your competitors will be doing, let us help you to think emotionally and out-manoeuvre them.

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

Understanding the connections between the consumer experience and their emotional responses.