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The Importance of Emotion in Buying

The Importance of Emotion in Buying


Ultimately, every purchase decision is driven by emotion. Trust. Likability. Confidence. Loyalty. Desire. Excitement…and one of the most important emotions of all…Fear. These emotions are powerful drivers of all human behavior including purchase behavior.

Of course, rational factors such as product benefits, functionality, specifications and other facts play important roles and are necessary to winning over customers. But at the core of the buying decision it is emotion that carries the day. Whether it’s a decision to buy an iPhone or a Galaxy, regular or organic fruit, or insurance from Allstate or Geico, consumers go through a process of; i) identifying possible choices, ii) narrowing down their choices to an acceptable set and iii) making a final decision.

emotional branding

Early in the buying process most people “do their homework” and evaluate the pros and cons of the different products they are considering. This is when the rational mind asserts itself to narrow down the choices to a smaller “acceptable set”. Maybe you are thinking of buying a new coffee maker. You figure out what’s important and make a mental checklist: makes good coffee, right price range, makes right amount of coffee, convenient to use and has the right style for the kitchen. Add to this the preconceived ideas you have about certain brands. You’ve used coffee makers before, you’ve seen ones your friends and family have and you’ve seen new models in stores and in advertisements. Some new models with stylish designs have captured your attention. Or maybe you like some killer feature like the ability to steam and froth milk for homemade lattes.

So, you do some online research, read reviews, talk to trusted friends and identify 5 to 10 brands that seem like good options. You evaluate each model against your checklist to narrow down the list to 2 or 3 top candidates. Interestingly, even in this “analytical” phase emotions can still play a big role. If one of your favorite brands doesn’t quite stack up to the rest, you may feel the need to reassess the evaluation criteria to make sure your favorite brand doesn’t miss the cut.

Once we have narrowed the field to the top 2 to 3 candidates, it’s time to make the final decision. This is where most people ultimately go with their gut. They’ve already used their mental energies to rule out the second rate choices. As such, the final candidates all passed muster in the rational evaluation.  This is where your gut instinct kicks in. You imagine yourself with one product, then another and to try to feel what it is like to own that one…and NOT to have the other one. It’s a process like trying on clothes. You “try on” one coffee maker, then another until one of the just “feels” right…and this is the one to buy.