What you’re missing when connecting Emotions to the Consumer Experience


It is nothing new to talk about the consumer’s emotional relationship with your brand. Marketers and advertising have focused on emotions for over 100 years. But this is generally focused upon how a product or brand makes the consumer feel. Coffee stimulates and awakens, chocolate is indulgent, sodas refresh, and since Haagen Dazs in the 1990’s ice cream is about love. Every brand owner that I speak with can tell me about the emotions that their brand evokes in their consumers.

Most brand owners can also tell me in comprehensive detail about their consumer experience. They know exactly how their brand or their product interacts with the consumer (although better to view it the other way around: how the consumer interacts with the product).

However, very few can explain in any detail how the consumer interaction with the brand or product prompts the emotional journey in the consumer that concludes with this end point and leaving them feeling stimulated, indulged, refreshed or loved.

That Nescafé wakes you up in the morning and gets you going for the day is great, but any coffee will do that. That Lindt Lindor leaves you feeling indulged, relaxed and calm is, again, great, but so would many other chocolate brands.

What is unique about your brand is not its final benefit – that is generally a category benefit.

What is unique about your brand is how it takes your consumers on its own specific sensorial and emotional journey and delivers them to that end point.

Your communications, your packaging and presentation, the unwrapping, the consumption or product use, each minute element of the consumer experience prompts an emotional response in the consumer.

Your product takes your consumer upon an emotional journey from how they were feeling before they started through a complex and elaborate set of emotions, culminating with how they feel at the end.

Every soda refreshes, every kitchen cleaner makes you feel good about your kitchen, it is the emotional journey, how it takes your consumer from A to B that differentiates your brand. It is when you understand this journey that you, as a brand owner, can maximise the performance of your brand.

Emotional journeys are like any other journey. They have their ups and downs, their twists and turns. It is this very variety and contrast that make them interesting. A little discomfort, a little uncertainty resolved in enjoyment enhances the pleasure. Unexpected features, surprise aspects make the journey memorable. They may not change the final destination, but they are the memorable parts of the journey. The experiences that we seek out again the next time we choose to travel to our chosen destination.

Just knowing how consumers experience your brand or how they feel afterwards is not enough.

It is their emotional journey that is the true essence of your brand.

It is when you can connect how each aspect of your consumer brand interaction prompts and creates this journey and when you understand how you can enhance and improve your consumers’ emotional journey, that you can fully maximise your brands performance.

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

Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands