Emotional advertising- the new market research

Market research is often considered the very fundamental of anything involved in advertising. We advertise to an audience, therefore understanding what the audience wants and needs is absolutely integral. However, traditional market research as we know it is in decline, with emotional tracking registering decision-making and responses becoming more favourable.

Market research of emotion

Market research has always been very good as telling us the information, but there’s no longer enough. What people are buying, when people are buying and how people are buying. This is very useful, but we need to know more. What is triggering people behind these decisions. Numbers and raw data is no longer sufficient and brands are looking into the emotional triggers to understand more. Therefore, the development of technologies which can track consumers’ emotions and reveal their involuntary reactions are now very precious to brands.  It is more than cost and ease that causes humans to make decisions. Our emotions are integral and vital in any decision-making, so brands need to know what is it that makes their audience tick.

Technology of emotional market research

Jane Frost, the CEO at the Market Research Society states that ‘numbers need context and they only tell you what people do and not why they are doing it’. Many brands are picking up on this need for emotional market research, including Apple. Apple acquired facial recognition company Emotient earlier this year to help understand the emotional market research field. Emotient has technology which allows brands to measure at scale how emotionally engaged customers are with ads, which thus allows their marketing strategy to develop in accordance to this. The use of technology further proves the change in shift of market research. Emotions are not easy to capture by self-reporting therefore the need for technology to pick up on receptors are far more perceptive.  Traditional surveys, especially telephone surveys are rapidly declining in utility as a result.

Emotion tracking: who is using it?

Emotion tracking is very useful also in post-analysis research. Studies using the Paralympic campaigns by Channel 4 and Samsung have used emotional tracking. These two brands used a study which analysed second-by-second electrical responses of the brain. This analysis helps us understand how people responded to the adverts by measuring how engaged a person was, how personally relevant is was to them, what aspects of the adverts were stored in their long-term memory and the extent to which they were emotionally energised by an ad.

Channel’s 4 recent campaign for the Rio Paralympics 2016 was named ‘Superhumans’. The advert features a mix of competing Paralympians alongside footage of disabled musicians, dancers, performers and those doing every day things, extraordinarily. Seeing people doing their daily jobs, such as fill the car up with fuel, made the ad relatable. Samsung’s Paralympic campaign, ‘School for Rio’ featured comedian Jack Whitehall being taught by Paralympians. According to post-analysis research, there was a stronger engagement with scenes of athletes taking part in sporting activity or joking with Whitehall compared to the scenes of factual information.

Brand loyalty from emotional responses

By tapping into the emotional receptors of the audience, these brands have created a memory of an experience. This is incredibly important in the advertising world, considering that the majority of people wouldn’t necessarily buy straight away after watching an advert. Therefore, by creating emotions and memories the brand stays in a positive light for the audience for much longer than an immediate response.

Ultimately, it’s easy to only refer to the audience as a consumer. However, they are first and foremost a human. They think like humans, act like humans essentially, because they are! Reactions to every day life are no different in the marketing world. All responses are emotions. No longer is there a need to know what consumers are doing, understand why they are doing these things to cater your brand successfully for them. Emotional tracking is an insight into the brain of the human, who is also the consumer. Behaviour is only half the game: the thought-process and feelings behind any decisions is the very core of it all. Emotional advertising is the foundation of brand loyalty.


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