Connecting to customers using emotion

A case study on how GlaxoSmithKline is building an emotional strategy in its business
GSK was represented by Donna J Sturgess at the World Innovation Forum

Now more than ever before emotion is saturating buying decisions and marketing needs to tap into this and use new ways to research and connect with customers.

A recent study determined:

15% of decision making is rational
85 % of decision making is emotional

Another Harvard study said that only 5% is rational. Major industries are clearly focused only on the rational. But marketers are clearly ignoring the 85% that really drives the buying decision. A good strategy should have 2 parts the rational and the emotional – and don’t think the rational isn’t important – it is – but it needs to come together with emotion to form a powerful bond.

For Example – Imagine a woman who goes to Channel for shoes but buys towels for her home at Costco. It makes you wonder if we have segmentation all wrong? Perhaps people segment to brand rather than brands segmenting to people. Because in that example – She is behaving one way in shoes versus exhibiting another behavior for home décor.

Brands don’t segment consumers — consumers segment brands

You have to get up close and personal with your customers – you will never get this kind of insights by reading a chart or a fancy spreadsheet.

By the way, the emotional side gets messy – and most of us are incredibly busy and don’t feel like we have the time for this – which is why only 8% of marketers have shopped with their consumers lately.

I am convinced this is the next frontier in marketing. When you are highly relevant and deeply resonate with your customer base you can thrive in tough economic times.

9 comments to Connecting to customers using emotion

  • Laurent

    About “You have to get up close and personal with your customers – you will never get this kind of insights by reading a chart or a fancy spreadsheet.”
    I think this is true and when I translate it to social media it means you have to do more than monitoring and join in. A good social media platform for that matter would have to put more spin on qualitative than quantitative. Quantitative aims at being able to understand the brand online by having full overview of what is happening…. On the other hand, qualitative means finding the communities where your costumer socializes online and who are the experts and having full overview of those + build relationship with them.

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Laurent

    I really like how you translated this to Social Media – but I think one of GSK’s main points was sometimes you just have to go face to face to get really content that you cant get elsewhere

    SM is great and is WAY better than any focus group but nothing beats face to face communication

  • laurent

    @ Paul
    All right, got carried away by my passion for social media ;-).
    Nothing beats face to face, it’s just sometimes not possible/easy. SM would be somewhere in between nothing and face to face, probably closer to face to face than nothing in term of value it provides for creating/starting relationships.

  • atul chatterjee

    It always makes sense to connect to a consumer through emotion besides rationality. I think there is nothing new in this, heaps of ads bear testimony.

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Atul – again you make a fair point – I think the new part for me was in the how GSK was doing this. Sure you can take out tons of ads or even connect emotionally with prospects on an emotional level (think Dove Beauty campaign) – but sitting down with customers face to face, shopping with them, and then designing products for them – now that’s nothing new – but in this era of too much information too little time – it certainly is a refreshing approach!

  • Software Support

    Getting close to customers thru some emotional characters is very important for a perfect marketer or a product owner
    because that is all about attracting the diversion of the consumer

  • EH

    I agree! You must connect emotionally. Customers aren’t merely numbers or names on a spreadsheet, they are humans with feelings. It amazes me that connecting to the emotional side of a customer is a more recent “discovery.”

  • Deb Kolaras

    Great read and interesting stats to back it up. Knowing this, it’s still blatantly obvious that the churn and burn school of thought is alive and well. Exactly who’s left to respond to this? My theory is people that are new to the Internet or the ones that see it as the next vehicle to help them arrive at riches and fame. Ugh. Hope they weed themselves out and stop polluting the social media space…and soon. @bizcoachdeb

  • Promotional Products

    You hit the nail on the head with that post. Creating an emotion, preferably a positive one, is a very important part of selling your product or service. This gives consumers a motivation to buy and spread the word about what you have to offer.

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