One in four consumers feel an emotion close to love when it comes to choosing what brand to buy and men who feel this love for their favourite beer will purchase 38% more than the average consumer, according to a new Australian study.

The study, conducted by the University of Wollongong and Murdoch University’s Audience Labs, delved into emotional branding in order to analyse the emotional attachment that consumers have for beer, petrol, washing powder and coffee brands.

Playing on the heart strings will make you rich

The study found that if a brand can create an emotional connection with consumers then it will significantly increase its annual revenue. For example, in one scenario, this was demonstrated by men buying almost 40% more of their favourite beer than the average consumer. Similarly, women purchased up to 60% more of their favourite washing powder, if they felt emotionally attached to it. 

Dr Steve Bellman, deputy director of the Audience Labs research centre, said this connection was surprising as we don’t usually associate utilitarian products (such as laundry detergent, petrol, etc) with emotions such as love. 

But he was quick to point out that if a brand can establish an emotional connection with a consumer, then the benefits can be extremely positive:

Our study shows that when companies tap into consumer’s deep feeling, the payoffs can be substantial.

Emotionally attached consumers purchase substantially more than regular customers, which frees companies from having to rely on promotions and discounts to keep them buying the brand. 

Feeling the ‘love’ connection

Bellman believes that understanding emotional branding is incredibly important for advertisers and marketers as it will help them create more targeted campaigns. He also says that emotional branding is a much better predictor of purchasing behaviour than more traditional measurement methods, such as where consumers are prompted to simply rate a brand as either good or bad. 

But how can a brand create this ‘love’ connection? One line of thought that consistently dominates is that of experiential marketing, an often complex topic summarised simply by Project WorldWide's APAC CEO, Mike Amour, in a recent opinion article: 

Experiential marketing is not a specific marketing tool, but an approach. It focuses on creating fresh connections between brands and consumers out in the world where things happen.

Connections in the form of experiences that are personally relevant, memorable, interactive and emotional; allowing brands and products alike to cut through the marketing clutter.

When it comes to brands specifically, Bellman points to numerous examples of corporations that have managed to connect emotionally with consumers on a global scale. The likes of Starbucks, Nike and McDonalds all have customers with fierce loyalty, based on multiple emotional and and experiential touchpoints during the customer journey.  

But Bellman warns brands that creating an emotional connection isn’t the easiest thing to do.

On the flip side, however, while advertisers are eager to create emotional attachments between consumers and their goods, we’ve found forming these deep feelings can be a difficult task.

This is expecially true within a digital environment, where establishing an emotional repertoire with users can arguably be more difficult than doing so in the physical space.

Nevertheless, it can be achieved, with many companies, such as Zappos, Net-a-Porter, the Iconic and Amazon, all consistently delighting customers and exceeding expectations.

The finer principles of this are explored in a recent Econsultancy article, but the five main points are suggested to be: 

  • The understanding that brand and business are the same
  • The realisation that businesses need to create and deliver emotional promises to customers 
  • Looking beyond a captive audience and try to reach everyone 
  • Considering as many different touchpoints and channels as is realistically manageable 
  • Not being afraid to make mistakes, but being transparent and learning from them 

As a sixth point, it's worth remembering that there's no silver bullet to creating an emotional connection with customers - arguably more so within an online context. However, it can be achieved, providing that long-term, conscious efforts are invested into ensuring interactions are established to drive relevant and memorable experiences. 

[Image credit: Aunt Owwee]

Claire Brinkley

Published 2 December, 2012 by Claire Brinkley

Claire Brinkley is Econsultancy Australia's news and insight reporter. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ or connect with her on LinkedIn

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Comments (5)


chris wood

At last, recognition by the digital worl of what the ad agencies have known and used for years - creating emotional connections between brands and customers results in greater loyalty and increased purchasing. "Love" may be going a bit far, but certainly building affection or fondness has been at the heart of the ad industry for years - understanding the psychology of customers and appealing to key emotional drivers. It's really not all about rational thought - a lesson for the s/w vendors.

over 5 years ago


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

"Sell the sizzle, not the steak"

Sounds like University researchers ploughing a furrow that's been ploughed many times before!

over 5 years ago


iWeb Expert

Interesting post.
Very well thought and is very informative.
Great job.

over 5 years ago


Tony Brooks

Creating "love" is tough but every ad and channel should always be targeted at making the observer feel good about the brand. As the consumer becomes more involved and chooses your brand they will invest more emotional equity in the brand than prior to the initial purchase to reinforce their decision. If the buying experience was positive and the product met or exceeded expectations love might just be achieved.

over 5 years ago


Sandra Pickering, Founding Partner at opento

Emotion is the most powerful force in business and branding.
But which comes first: do people buy brands they love or do they love brands they buy?
Perhaps surprisingly, it seems that the buying precedes the loving.
So don't try to create 'love', instead create Lovable Brands.

over 5 years ago

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