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It’s no secret that companies look to use all tools available to assess the impact of their marketing efforts. One key metric that is closely monitored is the audience’s emotional reaction. Especially for retail businesses where mass advertising campaigns spanning different demographics and psychographics are concerned.
Considering how purely emotional content is known to be twice as effective as only rational content, it’s no surprise brands are paying attention. Here, ‘emotional advertising’ plays a key role in helping optimize and create campaigns. The goal is to maximize a positive emotional experience to maximize marketing ROI and conversions.
But what’s available for brands today to actually understand the emotional impact and make data-driven creative decisions? From new AI-powered tools to domain fields such as neuromarketing used to drive emotional purchases, here we break down how brands measure the impact of emotions in marketing today.
The Power of Emotional Advertising
Brands have consistently relied on the power of emotional advertising to influence consumer behavior and decision-making. Some retail brands have successfully used this to their advantage.
Some marketing campaigns that stand out include:
The infamous Always #likeagirl campaign began in 2014 and hit a nerve with girls tackling puberty and fighting negative societal beliefs. The campaign is a perfect example of using emotional advertising for messaging that resonates with audiences and simultaneously becomes a massive sales driver.
Another great example of emotional advertising is Dollarshaveclub. The brand has been able to use humor in its advertising to appeal to a target audience that doesn’t want to take self-care too seriously and has been historically unhappy with the cost.
The result of using humor as a core part of its marketing strategy has resulted in the brand achieving massive success within a decade, and even being acquired by Unilever as a result.
Understanding emotional purchases
For context, emotional purchases are decisions a buyer makes to buy any product/service, driven by feelings, desires, and impulses. Usually, these are triggered by the need for instant gratification, a sense of nostalgia, or a thrill of excitement.
Most purchases are emotional, and brands like it that way. Especially for retail brands, rational advertising to talk about factors like cost, value analysis, product features, etc., does not always drive sales.
For instance, studies show more than 70% of customers recommend retail brands based on an emotional connection to them. Or that emotional advertising is more likely to generate sales than non-emotional advertising.
Ways to measure emotional responses
From eye-tracking technology to Artificial intelligence (AI) systems that study facial patterns, brands today leverage advanced techniques and tools when considering how to measure emotions.
Some modern methods and tools being used today include:
- Facial tracking: Facial tracking records a person’s facial expressions while viewing an advertisement and puts a quantifiable value on emotional responses. For example, if ad 1 scores a value of 4.0 in terms of a positive emotional response in a group of 100 participants versus ad 2, which scores 5.0, ad 2 would be preferable because it induces a better emotional response.
- Measuring brain activity: Neuromarketing techniques leverage technologies like Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Electroencephalogram (EEG) to track brain activities and measure biological reactions like changes in blood flow and electrical activity to measure attention, emotion, and engagement levels in response to an advertisement.
- Eye tracking: Eye tracking technology is used in neuromarketing to track how the eye moves in response to advertisements. This is crucial in understanding visual attention and how people naturally respond to different visual hierarchies and patterns.
For example, eye tracking can compare two different packaging designs and assess which design naturally generates more attention.
The Retail Context
Most of the tools and techniques we’ve highlighted here become especially important in the retail context. This is because various areas of operations are directly tied to using these methods, such as:
- Helping personalize customer shopping experiences.
- Enhancing insight into customer behavior and influences on purchasing decisions.
- Setting pricing strategies based on how customers perceive value and price.
- Enhancing customer engagement and optimizing product or campaign development. For example, a brand might use eye-tracking technology to determine what packaging generates more customer attention.
Emotional Advertising in Action
Many brands today rely on measuring emotional responses to maximize the impact of their advertising campaigns. Some examples include:
- Bolletje: Bolletje, a healthy cereal company, launched two different ads for the same product and to the same audience. The results showed one ad contributing to more than 250% more sales than the other.
The company then used eye tracking and MRI technology to understand the cause. The results showed that the audience reacted negatively to the ad with aqua yoga versus the ad with skinny jeans.
- Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola collaborated with a neuromarketing company to measure participants' brain activity using fMRI when exposed to different visual advertisements.
The responses to different images were reviewed to measure what images generated the most feelings of happiness and satisfaction. The results were then used for future advertising campaigns and helped raise sales.
- Alpro: Alpro, a plant-based milk company, leveraged an attention prediction platform that used eye-tracking to measure how people responded to their packaging design.
The neuromarketing software revealed that changing the packaging color scheme and adding a cup with latte art made it easier for people to recognize the logo by 3.6%. The platform also revealed that the new packaging generated more attention from viewers.
Quantitative methods for measuring emotions
Emotional advertising means having measurable data that you can use for decision-making about what’s better suited for your marketing campaigns and what isn’t.
Here are the most popular methods used for quantifying data related to human emotions:
- Surveys and questionnaires using methods like the Likert Scale or Semantic Differentiation Scale where customers rate their feelings on a scale (Say 1 to 5) towards a brand, product, campaign, etc.
- Sales data analysis: Metrics like conversion rates, engagement rates, loyalty and churn within sales data analysis can provide a quantitative measure of the participant’s emotional responses.
- Web analytics: Heat maps that show the points of maximum engagement on a website, bounce rates reflecting where users stop engaging without completing your desired action, session time revealing which pages get maximum engagement from customers, and related metrics providing quantifiable data relating to emotional responses.
Other advanced methods can include tests like the Implicit Association Test (IAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), or choice modeling.
Qualitative methods for measuring emotions
In many cases, quantifying data about human emotions can be limiting and can remove important contexts that might be important when creating advertising campaigns.
While measurable data is important, it’s also crucial to understand the context behind the numbers.
Some popular qualitative methods used for this purpose include:
- In-depth interviews are used to get an in-depth understanding of individual feelings/emotions towards a product, brand, or campaign through long-form conversations with customers.
- Focus groups with a group of participants are used to get an understanding of a social collective response toward what you’re advertising. This happens by creating a group of participants with demographics that align with your target audience and seeing a collective reaction toward your product, brand, or campaign.
- Social media sentiment analysis, also referred to as ‘social listening’, is used to understand how people emotionally respond to what you’re advertising on social media. This can be implemented by creating a social media listening strategy supported by the right tools.
Integrating Emotional Metrics into Retail Strategies
Integrating emotional metrics such as engagement, customer satisfaction, preferences, etc. plays a crucial in modern retail strategies. Leaders should embrace customer-centric approaches that maximize positive emotional responses from customers to, in turn, drive sales.
Tools such as sentiment analysis, facial recognition, and emotional tracking, etc. powered by modern technologies such as AI will play an important part here. Retail brands that lag behind will lose out to competition that’s ready to invest in emotional advertising and pay attention to metrics for winning over customers and retaining them today.
Challenges and considerations
The use of modern technology to create more powerful emotional ads has proved to be a massive success for brands, but some challenges and considerations must be considered. These include:
- Measurement challenges: While technology such as fMRI, EEG, AI/ML, eye tracking, etc., is a useful way to measure emotional responses for marketing, certain challenges exist that can hinder the quality of the output data. This can include cultural influences, issues in the training data, individual bias, or even malfunctions in the measuring device.
- The subjective and complex nature of emotions: Emotions are inherently subjective and vary from person to person. While modern tools provide an accurate assessment of how groups of people emotionally react to advertising campaigns, it’s still not an exact science.
- Privacy and security challenges: Measuring emotional responses should be a consensual matter. The subject should be fully aware that their emotional responses are being collected and will be used in the future. At the same time, having such sensitive data should be handled with extreme care. Any data breaches or theft can prove to be harmful to users who entrusted the company with private data about their emotional responses.
- Manipulating the public: Brands must ethically consider the negative consequences of emotional advertising campaigns. This means ensuring advanced technology like AI, facial recognition, eye tracking, etc, is not being used to exploit or manipulate consumer behavior. There must be ethical boundaries by which brands must abide.
Increase Emotional Impact with Strategic Advertising
With technological advances to understand how people emotionally react to advertisements, companies today have an exciting opportunity. Brands can accurately assess what will resonate with consumers and precisely structure their campaigns accordingly.
Especially for retail brands, the opportunity is massive. Modern techniques such as facial coding, eye tracking, and measuring brain activity coupled with advances in AI remove the guesswork from marketing.
If the idea of creating impactful emotional ads using modern technology like AI seems exciting, check out our AI marketing platform, Dragonfly. Our platform is especially suitable for retail brands looking to use data to understand what works to make better-informed creative decisions at scale.
Check here to book a demo today!