15 September 2007

Perhaps brand choices are emotional

Brands can make a difference in consumer preference and purchase. They can connect with consumers… in ways the marketing fraternity, today, is still not sure of. What marketing seems to be sure of is that the decision to buy happens in the consumer’s mind. Thereby, embarking on a relentless pursuit of the truth behind what makes consumers buy.

My career in sales, advertising and marketing has taken me through several points of view on a similar pursuit. From ‘man is a utility maximiser’ (and is, therefore, always expected to make logical choices) to regimental ‘awareness-interest-desire-action’ sales pitches to using ‘emotion in advertising’ in order to appeal to the consumer’s subconscious mind.

Some 20 years ago, I remember sitting through a Unilever presentation on emotional advertising. Audience reaction to TV commercials from across the globe was collected and matched against sales for each brand. Tragically, barring 2 cases out of the 30-odd commercials, audience reaction to emotional advertising didn’t match brand sales figures.

Something was wrong. There was uproar in the audience. How could this work? We were a group of Indians sitting in Mumbai, India, responding to advertising created in different countries for brands (some of which) we hadn’t even heard of. Surely, local culture, as well as prior exposure to these brands, had to influence our responses!

Yet, it was true, some of the commercials shown (and, thus, the brands advertised) appealed to our inner senses… perhaps within our subconscious mind. Some totally; some a great deal more than others. In fact, some of those commercials left us so cold that we, secretly, made promises never to buy those brands. And, for those commercials which enlightened us by sparking off positive feelings in the recesses of our minds, we wished we could own those brands.

Perhaps, brand choices are emotional.

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