The Psychology of Targeting Emotions: How Companies Drive Growth by Tapping into Human Emotions

March 8, 2023

 

The world of marketing psychology is fascinating. It is one of those fields that allows companies to take advantage of the innate nature of people to achieve greater sales and growth. 

Studying human psychology is one of the reasons why some companies are able to be extremely successful, while others, despite boasting products of a similar or even better quality, fail to make an impact.

Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customers (B2C) have quite different approaches in the way they approach sales, and this is also one area we are going to explore today. 

Influencing human emotions for marketing purposes is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and in today’s article, we are going to explore two interesting ways that businesses use human emotions as a marketing strategy.

 

1. Targeting Emotions

 

Companies in America have gotten a lot more political over the last few decades than they were before. The 1960s and the counterculture movement are often considered the start of the “socially aware” trend that companies incorporate into their marketing models. 

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) started to gain considerable traction, and CSR soon became the norm for any company that wanted to play a dominant role in the market. 

In current times, these companies have gotten really good at using social media to signal their support for a number of sensitive social issues that they know people are passionate about. These issues can revolve around issues of race, sex, gender, LGBT, women’s rights, and climate change, to name a few.

Businesses also pay a lot of attention to the target of these efforts. Typically, when the audience is an individual, such as in B2C marketing, it allows for a greater opportunity to appeal to emotions. In comparison, marketing to another business often involves a more value-driven approach.

Rather than trying to appeal to emotions, B2B marketing focuses on highlighting aspects of value, benefits, and ROI. However, this is changing. Businesses are realizing that there is actually a lot more happening on the emotional side than they would like to admit. 

While B2B marketing may not involve appealing to the exact same emotions that CSR tends to trigger, it can very much appeal to adjunct emotions that accompany the risk of high-value decisions. 

This is even validated by research from Google and CEB, which showed that businesses are more connected emotionally with their suppliers or business partners when compared to consumers. 

Coming back to B2C for a moment, it makes sense for a company to present itself as one that is deeply concerned about social issues due to the emotion it arouses in people. But how much of it is a legitimate concern, though? 

While it is true that many of these companies are honestly passionate about social issues, one cannot deny that a lot of them are capitalizing on the pure marketing genius that is linking their brand as a positive figure about issues that people are passionate about. 

Regardless of ulterior motives, the approach certainly brings in results, and these results are not lost on new companies that recognize its effectiveness. This is why they often hire a B2B web design agency that is capable of bringing the power of emotions into the very interface that is often the first point of contact in B2B deals. 

For example, many B2B web development agencies hire great writers who are adept at writing copy that is able to arouse emotion. While they may not use the same approaches that CSR-focused companies use, they can still effectively influence emotion in a number of ways.

This influence can happen through great storytelling, the use of moving testimonials, and powerful and descriptive language that has an emotional impact on people. Full-service B2B web design agencies like Aiminity also employ great designers who are able to apply the principles of color psychology to the website’s core design as well.

The process of knowing how to create and present a “brand identity” that matches the vocal and influential members of the public is key.  Many of them offer a free strategy call where they discuss how further growth is possible.  

Such services have traditionally been reserved for purely web design and web development-oriented, along with services like SEO, Advertising, and Analytics. However, many B2B web design firms have learned to branch out in unique ways to help companies incorporate marketing psychology into their strategies.

 

2. Targeting Emotions via Brand Image 

 

Most people are aware, at least on an unconscious level, that companies try to associate the product with a particular lifestyle or status.

Such an approach targets the core emotions of pride and envy.  Take, for instance, a luxury clothing brand. The public is aware that the quality of materials is not what makes them expensive. 

It is not the production process that makes it expensive, nor any of the other usual factors that would rationally be responsible for such extravagant prices.

By pricing products in such a way that the only people who would buy them are the rich, companies are able to create a self-contained brand loop, which only exists to create an image of: “These products are for the wealthy.” 

Such a seed, once planted into the minds of people, is often much more powerful than strategies that might beg the customer to see the value or true worth of their products. 

People are more likely to save up money and even overlook products that they can afford simply because status and social standing are such attractive prospects. 

This tendency even has a term in sociology and economics called “Conspicuous Consumption.”  It allows people to indirectly tell others: 

“Look at me, I am wealthy enough that I can pay extra money for no reason except that I choose to.” 

By taking advantage of this trait, many companies, particularly in the luxury niche, have been able to influence their customers to such an extent that they no longer sell products. They sell something much more valuable. They sell status. 

 

Conclusion

Psychology is one of those fields where it is pretty difficult to predict behavior on an individual basis. However, the power of marketing psychology has shown us that, as a group, humans can be more predictable than we think. 

Being able to recognize patterns that can be used to grow a business or a company might seem like a grey area and a bit unethical at times. Even so, marketing inherently involves some form of social influence, and as long as such influence campaigns are targeted at adults, it isn’t as morally questionable. 

The next time you see a company espousing a view, take a closer look not at what they are saying but at what their statements are making you feel as a consumer. You can learn so much about effective marketing by simply reflecting on how you find yourself reacting to companies and their efforts at social influence. 

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