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Modern Workspace

Selling Emotions

We all have similar basic emotional desires - to feel accepted, loved, safe and happy. Our emotions drive customer experiences and motivate purchases.

"In the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope." Charles Revson, Founder of Revlon.

Charles Revson wasn't selling lipstick to his customers. He was selling them a feeling, he triggered an emotion.

When women buy cosmetics, they aren't buying lipstick, they are buying confidence.

Instead of selling ice cream, why not sell a sweet first date instead.

Ferrari is not selling a car, they are selling status.

Coffee isn't a beverage, it is a way to fuel your day.

Netflix isn't a streaming service, it's a way to unwind after a long day.

Luxury goods target our feelings of self-worth, acceptance, and status in the world. Communication devices excite us by offering a connection to friends, family, and a broader network of people. Athletic brands inspire by offering adventure and glory through the act of competition. And many other products, such as perfume, cologne and lingerie, target emotions related to love, relationships, and sexual desires.

"People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons." Zig Ziglar

Humans are driven by feelings. So if you want the consumer to remember your product or brand, they must be engaged and impassioned by the interaction with your company. Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman states that 95% of purchasing decisions are done subconsciously.

After a major bank introduced a credit card for Millennials that was designed to inspire emotional connection, use among the segment increased by 70% and new account growth rose by 40%.

Desires to “protect the environment” and “be the person I want to be” are key motivators in the banking category for that age group. (Traditional industry motivators such as desires to “feel secure” and to “succeed in life” are more typical of older groups.) The bank crafted messaging and features to connect to those sentiments, leading to its fastest-growing new credit card.

According to Harvard Business Review Hundreds of “emotional motivators” drive consumer behavior. Below are 10 that significantly affect customer value across all categories studied: Stand out from the crowd.

Have confidence in the future.

Enjoy a sense of well-being.

Feel a sense of freedom.

Feel a sense of thrill.

Feel a sense of belonging.

Protect the environment.

Be the person you want to be.

Feel secure.

Succeed in life.

But even negative emotions can be emotional purchase drivers. A customer might be motivated by envy and may make a purchase because of their perceived competition with others. Fear, that's based on a rational or irrational concern they have, might be motivating them to make a purchase quickly. Greed, Pride and Shame could also be behind buying decisions. Maybe they want what someone else already has, or they hope to feel a sense of pride because someone else may respect them or think they're smart based on the item they bought. Sometimes shame may trigger a purchase of something because they're concerned about how they may look or feel if they don't buy it.

Emotional selling relies on excellent emotional intelligence skills. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to listen to others and understand their thoughts and feelings. This is essential for connecting deeply with potential customer target groups and their values and emotions.


Daniela Schardinger


As the visionary behind ELAFY Consulting’s brand, Daniela is a seasoned corporate professional with 15 years of experience in brand management, marketing and advertising.

"What I love about Marketing & Branding is that it is never done. It is about perpetual motion."

Let's connect and build genuine emotional connections with our customers!"


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