Emotion and brand strategy

Psst Marketers – Time To Get Intimate

September 21st, 2017 Posted by brand marketing, brand strategy, consumer behavior, Consumer insight, Culinary lifestyle, food experiences 0 comments on “Psst Marketers – Time To Get Intimate”

Considerations As You Enter Planning

Recently on an episode of “Master Chef,” a home-cook contestant became emotional when presenting his dish to rave reviews. With tears welling in his eyes, he shared the backstory…his cultural heritage which influenced the flavors; the technique learned from family struggling to stretch their food dollar; the pride (and frankly, relief) of successfully honoring his family and the ingredients by coalescing all of those experiences into his dish — all on a plate, for others to enjoy — to be shared.

Celebrity chef and judge Aarón Sánchez comforted the 20-something contestant saying knowingly, “Food is very intimate.”


Yes, the sharing of something very personal; meaningful; even emotional.

As food marketers, many of us get sucked into the vortex of textbook “product” features and benefit-selling forgetting, or consciously rebuffing, the most important consumer insight of all. Just like our young Master Chef cook, people care deeply about food.

Understanding this powerful relationship between food and cook has moved beyond the anecdotal. Tapping into our purchasers’ emotions is no longer just one of the tactical options in the Creatives’ bag of tricks. It’s actually a new way of managing your brand and going to market.

Marketing — We’ve Been Doing It Wrong!

Most important for today’s brand managers and marketers is understanding our “consumer targets” are, first and foremost, people: who are feeling creatures that thinknot thinking creatures that feel.

We’ve known tapping into emotion is an important and powerful persuasive force in brand communication. Now we know why — because it connects most readily to the sub-conscious where decision-making occurs in the blink of the eye — and with the deepest conviction of one’s own “gut feeling.”

So, if most decisions and actions are created by the sub-conscious part of the brain and in an instant, why do marketers continue to focus on analytical messaging that assumes people make considered, rational decisions? Any factual product features or benefit will be evaluated — in the end — against how the consumer feels about the brand or product.

After all, “the heart wants what the heart wants.”

It’s All About the Touch-Points

Understanding the dominant role emotion plays in decision making should have a profound impact on how we go to market — especially in the food business, which is intrinsically an emotion-rich category.

The marketing goal is to connect to what your brand and product means to your consumer and how it helps enable in their lives.

Culinary inspiration is often a great place to start because it immediately looks at food through the emotion-based lens of experience: the preparation and enjoyment of eating; and the social dynamics between people sharing time in the kitchen and around the table. For some, food might mean taking pride in being a good moms like our young contestant, honoring tradition by sharing the legacy of time-honored family recipes and techniques.

So, as you step into planning, ask yourself what are the intimate, personal and emotion-rich touchpoints connecting your consumers to your brand.

Here are some important questions to consider in planning:

  1. Do we have insight into the consumer’s passions and concerns around their lifestyle and how the brand and product sits in service of their needs?
  2. How can the brand be an enabler of their lifestyle desires?
  3. What are the emotional links between the consumer’s self-interests and the brand?
  4. How can the brand demonstrate it cares about the same values as our consumers?
  5. How can we tap into the real feelings about the experience taking place around the product?

Understanding these key insights is how we at Emergent develop effective outcomes that are transformational for our clients.

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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.


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