30 December 2016

BUSINESS - Emotional Decision-Making in the Digital Marketplace

Humans are emotional creatures.

Emotions, both positive and negative, are naturally occurring responses to situations, and science has even determined why humans have emotions – they act as motivators.

As How Stuff Works puts it, “From an evolutionary standpoint, emotions are the agents of change and reaction.”

Emotions motivate our decision making as well.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio found that, “Emotion may well be the support system without which the edifice of reason cannot function properly and may even collapse.” 

What this means is that emotions are as much, if not more, integral to human decision-making as logic and reason.

What does that mean for marketers and businesses in the world of mobile commerce?

According to Forrester, it means that consumers, who have always been emotional and whose emotions have always influenced their purchasing choices, now have “the power, willingness, and ability to take action when provoked by a great or poor experience.”

Their research indicates that among hotel customers, 90% would advocate for the brand if they felt valued, 67% plan to increase spending with the brand, and 87% plan to stay with the brand.

In contrast, TV service customers, who often feel annoyed at their provider, had very different numbers. Only 8% would advocate for the brand, and merely 13% and 15% planned to increase spending or stay with the brand, respectively.

Customers’ emotional experiences with the brand have a significant impact on their willingness to continue spending.

In a market that makes switching easy and frictionless, those emotional experiences can have an immediate impact on a business’s bottom line.

Although emotions drive decision-making, not every consumer will behave the same way given an emotional experience.

Forrester has segmented consumer types into Progressive Pioneers (20%), Savvy Seekers (17%), Convenience Conformers (30%), Settled Survivors (16%), and Reserved Resisters (18%).

These consumer profiles give insight into how likely a customer is to seek out, or resist, change.

It is the 40% of the market that is made up of Progressive Pioneers and Savvy Seekers that marketers really need to worry about losing as a result of an emotionally negative experience.

These consumers are motivated to seek out change and innovation, and they know what they can expect from adaptive, responsive brands.

Convenience Conformers, a full 30% of consumers identified by Forrester, are also likely to switch brands if the emotional experience and convenience are not acceptable.

So, how does a brand maintain positive emotional connections with consumers, especially given the decrease in face-to-face interactions as a result of the digital marketplace?

One suggestion is to move from a transactional model to one of interactions.

Give customers a story-worthy experience of interacting with your brand, and focus on helping customers feel important. The effectiveness of this is evidenced by the hotel customers and their loyalty to the brands that made them feel valued.

Brands and marketers can also learn from video gaming, where monetizing emotional responses has been honed to a fine art.

Game designers know that players want a sense of social interaction, and a feeling of personal empowerment – these strategies can also be incorporated into the marketplace experience.

About Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a writer, editor, academic, and animal lover who came late to her appreciation of pets. At 18, a rescue pup named Tasha saved her from a depression and she hasn't looked back. She has worked as the canine behaviour program coordinator for the Calgary Humane Society, and was a dog trainer specializing in working with fearful and reactive dogs for many years. She doesn't have any pets right now, but makes up for it by giving her petsitting clients (and any dogs she comes across on her frequent coffee shop adventures) extra snuggles.

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