Inventing Emotional Innovation

Girls in STEM Mentor jan Choudhury

by | 16 Aug, 2021 | Untapped Thinking

In today’s world we know that brands will only be successful if they connect emotionally with their users.  This is more straight forward for markets that create an obvious and close bond with consumers such as fashion or travel, but how often are we doing this well for more functional markets such as cleaning products or cooking oil?  We tend to be good at identifying the most relevant functional benefits but can stop short of laddering these up to powerful emotional desires that will connect these brands to their consumers and set them apart from their competitors.

1. Unlocking Emotional Insights

With different cognitive functions being controlled by different parts of our brains, we need to become adept at accessing and linking our logical, business minded left sides with our creative right sides.  We also need to access both parts of our consumers’ brains to unlock the richness of all their category functional and emotional needs. This isn’t hard to do but requires some different approaches.

2. Use in-depth 1-on-1 qualitative research techniques

Our deepest emotions can be found underneath the surface, often unarticulated and personal to each individual.  Focus Groups Discussions are highly unlikely to get us there.  Respondents are more likely to reveal these emotions in their own time and in an environment they are comfortable in (often at home).  A good moderator will take the time to build a rapport with a consumer and spend at least a couple of hours digging deep to uncover the emotion.

3. Uncover emotion in the context of everything else going on

Emotions do not occur in isolation.  Our thoughts and feelings relate to our beliefs and values and our experiences.  For any category, we can observe behaviour but research techniques need to dig deeper and connect all the dots between the functional and the emotional.  The more time we spend with a consumer, even to the extent of living with them, we learn why a behaviour occurs, how that makes people feel, what the experience is with a brand, product or service, why they make these evaluations, how this impacts their daily life beyond the category and how all of this makes them feel.

4. Use imagery

Our thoughts occur as images, with 80% of all meaning being conveyed non-verbally. It is these thoughts that drive our behaviours, our motivations and our feelings. So consumer research tools that stimulate the imagery of the mind will help to unlock the emotion. By asking consumers to select pictures that represent all their thoughts and feelings about a category experience, we can probe for any metaphors, which are central to the creation and expression of thoughts and feelings. This technique is known as Metaphor Elicitation and is highly effective at uncovering deep emotions.

So, it’s time to challenge yourself.  Just because you’re working on a functional category doesn’t mean the consumer can’t connect with it emotionally.   Will more of the same type of focus groups really get you to the deeper level or is it time to get closer to your consumer?

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