Emotional Marketing: Scientifically Proven Ways to Increase Sales and Reduce Churn

What does emotion have to do with creating loyal, enthusiastic customers?


To turn casual customers into more powerful brand ambassadors, you need to give them a compelling, emotional reason to invest in your brand.

When you leverage emotional marketing to connect with customers, you reach those customers on a meaningful level. That crucial emotional connection stays in a customer’s mind long after the purchase.

There are six important types of emotional appeals:

  • Self-esteem
  • Authority/Experts
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Fear
  • Anger and Disgust

Let’s look at what makes emotional marketing so powerful and how you can use marketing psychology to connect with more prospective customers, create more loyal customers, and increase sales.

What is Emotional Marketing?

Emotional marketing is marketing and advertising that primarily uses emotional appeals to make your customers and prospective customers notice, remember, share, and buy your company’s products or services.

For example, there’s an intricate psychology involved in designing memorable, unique custom business logos. Similarly, emotions play a crucial role in product packaging design.

Even the name of your business plays an important role in creating emotional reactions in your customers and prospective customers.

There are many different emotions but the eight primary ones are anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy.

Robert Plutchik’s psychoevolutionary theory of emotion illustrates different emotions through a “wheel of emotions”.

Does emotional marketing  influence what we buy?

Studies show that powerful memories come from intense emotional experiences.

Marketing efforts that tap into those memories access intense emotions. Those emotions are often responsible for that pricey purchase made on a whim.

The emotional content in advertising is far more influential than its informative content. David Frenay, Co-Founder at Emolytics, writes:

Thanks to many millennia of evolution at work, our emotional responses are so intuitive and deeply ingrained into our brains that we instinctively “react” before thinking or rationalizing a decision. We often don’t recognize how irrational many of our decisions are. And if asked, many people will insist that they favor logic over emotion.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) looked at 1,400 case studies from the past three decades to explore what types of advertising campaigns were the most effective.

IPA compared the effectiveness of persuasive advertising that focused on making an emotional appeal and advertisements that focused on information and logic-based arguments.

The marketing with emotional content was twice as successful as the marketing using the informative content.

Image credit – NeuroScienceMarketing.

Why is emotion more persuasive than information?

Our brains are great at processing emotions. Brains understand and interpret emotions quickly, and the memory of those emotions persists for a long time.

As for facts… I challenge you to remember the capital of each of the United States.

Compelling, emotional stories can work well across cultures and languages.

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For example,  “Giving” is a 3 minute commercial for Thailand mobile phone service provider True Move. The story begins with a young boy caught stealing medicine for his sick mother. A nearby small restaurant owner helps the boy by buying the medicine and also gives the boy soup to take home to his mom.

Watch the video to see the story unfold – it’s a powerful and emotional message conveyed in very simple, short video. Your tears won’t be from cutting onions.

What are the different types of emotional appeals?

Which emotions should your business use to boost the power of a marketing message?

You have a range of emotions to consider, but they can easily be broken down into two categories: positive, feel-good emotions, and negative emotions like fear and anger.

You might think that positive emotions are a better choice, but that is not always the case.

Positive and negative emotional appeals can be equally persuasive.

Think about your business and which of the following emotional appeals would work best for your brand’s identity.

Lane Bryant’s advertising uses self-esteem messaging throughout to help speak directly to its target audience, plus-sized women. Image courtesy of Lane Bryant


Appeals to self-esteem target the customer’s desire to feel good about themselves.

Plus-size clothing chain Lane Bryant tapped into this with their “I’m No Angel” and “This Body” campaigns.

Adweek reported the ads resonated with women on social media:

“The Lane Bryant #IMNOANGEL initiative celebrates women of all shapes and sizes by redefining society’s traditional notion of sexy with a powerful core message: ALL women are sexy,” the brand says.

It’s a direct dig at Victoria’s Secret, and social media is loving it. Women have jumped on the trending hashtag, posting their own photos and declarations with #ImNoAngel.

Creating these feel-good emotions increase your customer’s positive impression of your product. Using an emotional marketing message feels more genuine.

Focus on messages that feel personal to your audience, and tap into a message that resonates with them in a positive way.

Authority / Experts

Credibility and unbiased opinion can have massive sway over consumer opinion. Nielsen research shows:

  • 85 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase.
  • 69 percent of consumers read product reviews written by trusted experts before making a purchase.
  • 67 percent of consumers agree that an endorsement from an expert makes them more likely to make a purchase.

Hearing from an expert on a subject makes a claim more believable and carries more weight with consumers.

Trident gum’s “4 out of 5 dentists” campaign began in the 80s, initially appealing to customers using an expert opinion. Trident revived this campaign in recent years to excellent effect and introduced a new spin on “expert” marketing. They launched a series of irreverent ads that examined “the 5th dentist” and capitalized on authoritative opinion with an entertaining spin.

Find an expert with enough name recognition that their words carry weight, or create your own expert using a tongue-in-cheek approach.

Apple’s marketing often centers around positive, good feelings, and this classic campaign for Apple’s iPod is a great example of that in action. Image courtesy of Apple.


Campaigns that conjure up good feelings, joy, and happiness are powerful ways to connect with consumers.

A study by the New York Times examined their most shared articles. Articles that created a happy reader response were shared more often than those that prompted negative feelings.

Apple uses this power of happy emotion in their recent marketing campaigns.

Apple’s move toward a joyful marketing approach is evident in their “Practically Magic” ads. They use color, magic, and joy to emphasize what their products will make consumers feel.

We agree – those red balloons make us pretty happy.

That happiness makes us eager to spread our joy.

Enthusiasm is contagious.

That’s one reason why positive business taglines, for example, create stronger brand identities, compared to negative taglines.

Try to incorporate positive language into your marketing: fun, success, achievement, joy… This will give consumers a positive and pleasurable association with your brand.

And then, they’ll share the love.


Marketing that makes people feel sad is powerful.

None of us will ever forget that ASPCA commercial featuring Sarah McLachlan.

Devastating images of dogs and cats paired with McLachlan’s tearjerker “Angel” will never be forgotten by heartbroken viewers everywhere.

You might wonder why any company would intentionally break the hearts of their audience.

The New York Times reported the ad was the ASPCA’s most successful fundraising effort. They raised approximately $30 million from the campaign.

In marketing, creating sadness can persuade people to act.

Show consumers a problem and demonstrate how sad and difficult it is.

Then provide them with the solution, and move them from sadness to empowerment.


Fear is a primal emotion that marketers use to motivate a change.

Fear appeals are impactful, but they need to be used carefully. Appeals that are too intense or harshly presented can sometimes backfire.

One reason for this is that people tend to avoid unpleasant or upsetting imagery.

But fear is motivating because we are biologically programmed to run from scary situations.

Our bodies and minds compel us to act when we are faced with fear-inducing things.

In marketing, you can illustrate a vivid threat – like lung cancer to smokers – and then offer viewers the way to escape it.

Always’ Like A Girl campaign. Image courtesy of Always.

Anger and Disgust

Anger and disgust are negative emotions, but they can still provoke a positive reaction if used properly in a campaign.

Always’ “Like a Girl” campaign took a demeaning, anger-inducing phrase and transformed it into a positive and memorable experience.

Many companies will also use anger, but they will put aim that anger toward their competitors.

When Dollar Shave Club illustrated the frustration of buying commercial brand razors, they tapped into a common problem. Then they offered their solution.

Using anger toward your competitors is a great strategy to encourage your customers to try out your brand instead.

Wrapping up

Every business should understand how to connect emotions to their brand, and which emotions can best support what their brand offers.

A well-thought-out, emotional appeal to your customers is a highly effective marketing strategy that connects you with customers in a meaningful, lasting way.

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