Emotional Marketing

The Dynamic Nature of Emotional Marketing

Emotions are a polarizing thing. Some of us feel like they’re a burden, something that we have to control and repress. Others are expressive, embrace their emotions, and wear their heart on their sleeve. Regardless of how we handle them, we think of our emotions as deeply personal. They are reflective of our inner-most thoughts and genuine feelings. But that isn’t true.

We have emotional influences coming at us from every direction. Whether you like it or not, your emotions have a price tag attached to them. This is an entirely different way of thinking about emotional responses, especially in the cases of brand messaging. Your emotions to commercials and print ads are not organic—they’re manufactured by brands who are willing to put funds towards emotional marketing.

Now, don’t get discouraged. Emotional marketing may sound like a moneymaking ploy, but it can be a powerful marketing tool used for genuine good. It’s about reaching customers in a meaningful way and developing brand awareness. It gives consumers an emotional reason to invest in your brand. Instead of selling a product, you’re selling a feeling.

Emotional Marketing on Computer Screen

People think with both the rational and emotional parts of their brain. When it comes to shopping habits, studies have found you make purchases for emotional reasons. That being said, just about everyone can be influenced by emotional marketing. Rational decision-makers may argue otherwise, but there’s plenty of data to prove it.

Advertising campaigns with purely emotional content perform twice as well as those with only rational content. We get invested because we find the campaign relatable and memorable. Powerful, long-term memories come from intense emotional experiences.

Our brains are great at processing emotions. We understand and interpret them quickly, but we need some time for rational arguments. In other words, we’re not very good at interpreting facts. But emotions? Yeah, we excel at deciphering emotions.

You see, people don’t just buy your product. They buy the promise of how they will feel with your product. Subconsciously, we all want to improve our lives, even if that means buying an everyday product like a bag of chips. That’s why chip ads feature happy people socializing at parties. You’re not just buying the chips; you’re purchasing the happiness that comes along with the chips.

Emotional marketing is so effective because it often challenges our human needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory made of a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as a pyramid. The theory first arose in 1943 with his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and later his book Motivation and Personality.

The theory suggests that people are more likely to fulfill their basic needs before attempting to fulfill their complex needs. Low-tier needs are basic and primal things like water, sleep, and air. The higher-ranking needs are much more complex and abstract—like achievements, creativity, and life purpose. In other words, you’re more likely to make sure you have food and a place to stay. Working on your confidence and self-realization are far less critical.

Maslow believed that these needs play a significant role in motivating behavior. Overall, these needs are what convince people to buy products or take action. When an emotional marketing campaign implies a deficiency or deprivation, consumers act to satisfy the need and avoid unpleasant consequences.

Home security companies like ADT and Brinks are notorious for this. They suggest your family is in danger, you’re vulnerable, and you never know who could be lurking on your property. This invokes fear and discomfort in the viewer because it threatens their second tier of needs. To remedy this fear, consumers reach out to the company for more information on their home security systems.

What emotions should your business use to boost your marketing message?

You have a range of emotions to choose from. Think about your business and which emotion would best work for your brand’s identity.


Good news travels fast. Positive emotions are more likely to convince people to share. Positivity can increase social engagements too. The pursuit of happiness is never-ending. We often mistake happiness with the purchase of necessities. Companies tell their customers that their product will make them happy. And all of us believe it.

Typically used for restaurants, retail, car companies.


The objective here is to tug at the heartstrings of your audience. When an ad challenges your values, you’re more likely to become emotionally involved. We are intrigued by sadness, and empathy leads to increased giving. Negative words have a 63 percent higher click-through rate than their positive counterparts.

Typically used for charities.

The Shelter Pet Project


This is one of the strongest human emotions because it’s the most primal. It lies in our survival instinct. Discomfort makes us cling to what’s comfortable. In many cases, fear is caused by a threat to our relationships. For example, life insurance companies take advantage of one of the strongest relationships of all— the bond between parents and children. Fear prompts people to act based on urgency and a desire for self-preservation. Keep in mind that fear usually has a short-term effect.

Typically used for security companies, insurance companies, medical warnings.


We’re not necessarily talking about rage. Anger has many sub-forms, like guilt or disappointment. Most companies avoid angering their customers, but anger can have a powerful impact used under the right circumstances. For example, political campaigns can get us riled up and take action. When we see social injustice or prejudice, we oppose. Outrage and disgust lead to increased views and actions.

Typically used in political ads or for environmental issues.

Always Run Like a Girl Campaign

As a business owner, you’re focused on numbers. It’s only natural. You’re thinking about conversion rates, revenue, and sales volumes. But numbers are clouding your thoughts. It’s time to rewire your brain. Appeal to your customers’ emotions and prioritize long-term relationships over sales. When your customers feel emotionally connected to your business, the sales will come.