Emotions in purchase decisions

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With the array of similar products with similar features available in modern marketplace, reason alone is insufficient to determine trade-offs between alternative brands. Behind the values that consumers seek to enhance or maintain are past emotional experiences that shape their concerns. Emotions, thus, become crucial in purchase decisions.


Why should I be aware of this?

Everyone feels before they think; the non-rational emotional reaction comes before the more rational secondary one. The consumer finds out about the product’s features through reasoning. But without the involvement of emotion, consumers are unable to assign values to those features or alternatives. Consumer reasoning needs to be bolstered with emotion to assign values to available functional alternatives. Without the role of emotion consumers will be unable to make up their minds about which products to buy. Without emotion, consumers suffer from decision paralysis. When values attached to a product are unclear, indecision is the rule.

Successful marketing helps consumers identify with the brand by attaching the values and concerns of the target consumer. Reason compels the consumer to feel the need to buy a product; emotion determines which alternative is bought.

How does this affect me?

Logic does play a part in justifying the decision after we have made it, but emotion is the core ingredient.

In most product categories, including high technology purchases, we make buying decisions based on emotion, not logic. We like to buy from people we like and can make purchase decisions on things that may seem pretty silly. As customers we will only buy what appeals to our emotion and satisfies our wants and needs.

All about emotions in purchase decisions

Customers use both rational and emotional elements in their decision process. The rational elements are things like pricing and product quality. But pricing and product quality and even innovative products can be copied and replicated. Sustainable rational differentiation is, therefore, difficult to achieve.

Marketing and advertising communication

Marketing and advertising use emotion-based communication to great effect. Where consumers are more likely to take emotion-based decisions, stating mere facts often don’t work stating facts about a product. For instance, instead of stating what fruits and vegetables contain effective emotional communication would appeal to the mother’s desire to do extraordinary things for her children, like offering fruits and vegetables, which can keep them healthy and have the power to change their lives. Emotion-based approaches represent an effective way to capture attention, “hook” the parent with the benefits of taking action, and change behaviors.

Primarily emotional decision-makers

Over the past 25 years, breakthroughs in neurobiology have confirmed that people are primarily emotional decision-makers. How real the benefits of a product feel to consumers is actually the key.

Based on neurobiological evidences that emotional reactions are 80% faster than cognitively filtered reactions to brand-related stimuli, successful marketers understand that emotions are more significant than thought.

Our brain consists of three separate brains, the original sensory brain, an emotional brain, and a rational brain - a very late addition in evolutionary terms - from which verbal abilities stem. The emotional brain is reported to send 10 times the amount of data to the rational brain that it receives in return.

After all we are rational beings and make our final decisions based on facts and logic. Where we use our emotions to make decisions, we justify them with logic. The heart has to be touched first, before the facts are presented.


  • The Connection Between Emotions and Brand Loyalty
  • Understanding and Harnessing Consumer's response
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  • Emotion-Based Materials