Anupam Vasudev
Guest Article

Of Cognitive Consonance And Selling Dreams

Branding lessons from the desk of a telecom marketer.

Human behaviour and decision-making processes have always remained an unsolved mystery to the world despite the most advanced scientific technologies. The unpredictability in human actions often gives veteran marketers nightmares. With advancement in technology and the fast-paced expansion of global consumer markets, marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to gauge the motivations that drive a consumer into buying a particular product.

Of Cognitive Consonance And Selling Dreams
Anupam Vasudev

It is often debated whether purchase decisions made by a consumer are deliberate, well-thought out or impulsive, spur-of-the-moment decisions that spring out of sheer loyalty for the product, stimulated by the subconscious mind. Anyway, nobody has been able to give a satisfying answer to this question, which is still being passionately discussed in academic circles.

However, most academicians and marketers believe that consumer buying decisions are often made consciously and subconsciously, resulting from a deep-rooted emotional attachment for a brand or a product.

Understanding Emotional Motivators

However, in order to communicate to the subconscious mind, every brand should have some psychological goals that could potentially stimulate the desire for reinforcement in the subconscious mind and elicit a prompt response, leading to an instant purchase decision.

A recent article published by Harvard Business Review on ‘The New Science of Customer Emotions,’ reveals that the most effective way to maximise customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level, that is, to tap into their fundamental motivations and fulfil their deep, often unspoken emotional needs. We connect more easily with concrete characters than abstract concepts and often form a relationship with them.

Of Cognitive Consonance And Selling Dreams
Andrex ad

For example, Andrex, a British toilet roll brand, used a puppy in its television campaign. The campaign was a massive hit and later on, the puppy became synonymous with the brand and its persona. Customers have a relationship with the brand; this emotional attachment was further solidified through the puppy and its appealing looks. As a result, Andrex continues to dominate the European market with unrivalled performance.

Emotional motivators often provide better understanding of the amount of a value that a prospective customer could bring to your company, including brand loyalty and emotional attachment with your brand. Generally, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. Moreover, emotionally connected customers contribute significantly to your brand’s growth, profitability and performance in relation to your competitors.

However, it is important to keep in mind that both conscious and subconscious minds play an equal role in a complementary way that often leads to a win-win situation for marketers. Therefore, one cannot be overlooked for the other.

Don’t sell products, Sell dreams and emotions

All the successful and well-established brands in the world today have an emotional connect with their customers, something that builds cognitive consonance, which helps customers justify their purchase decisions.

“Customers who feel a genuine emotional connection with a particular brand generate disproportionate value for that brand. Those who are ‘fully connected’ emotionally are 52 per cent more valuable to brands than customers who are ‘highly satisfied,” reports Harvard Business Review.

Understanding how the subconscious mind works and reacts could help companies successfully market their brands and products. When there are no strong emotions involved, we are more likely not to make a decision – at least immediately. Therefore, in order to maximise marketing results, marketing needs to evoke an emotional response in the prospective client’s heart and mind.

Of Cognitive Consonance And Selling Dreams
John Lewis ad

John Lewis is another global brand that's been successful in establishing a strong connect with its customers. The brand did this through its famous Christmas ad campaign, first launched in 2007. Today, the campaign has become a part of popular British culture and is one of the harbingers of Christmas.

Emotional connection is always preceded by a warm customer experience and is therefore seen as a driver of emotional attachment. But the fundamental question here is: How can marketers gauge the emotional behaviour of customers? For this, marketers should, first of all, identify the emotional motivators such as the desire to feel a sense of belonging, be thrilled by the shopping experience, and have a sense of freedom and independence. Once marketers are able to identify and cater to these needs, an emotional connection is gradually built and customers become more convinced that the company or product understands them and their unexpressed needs.

And this is when a successful brand or a company is born.

(Anupam Vasudev is Chief Marketing Officer at Aircel)

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