Why Emotions Matter in Marketing

Take a few seconds and think of a television commercial. What is the first one that comes to your mind? Perhaps you have one in mind that really made you laugh, or really moved you, or one that you just find very annoying. Chances are you are thinking of a commercial that had an emotional impact (either negative or positive). Many studies show people remember emotional information better. Emotions also drive decision making. Therefore, it is relevant for advertisements to create an emotional message.

Ad Ratings and Emotions

You can see the importance by ratings of commercials in this US ad rater. The number one rated commercial of 2017 is a car commercial featuring comedy star, Melissa McCarthy. As seen in our example report (which you can download here)this commercial also makes people laugh. People really like this commercial and it is likely that this also contributes to their appreciation for the brand. As many studies indicate that attitude towards an ad affects attitudes towards the brand. Sometimes an ad does not get the intended emotional response. This was illustrated by the emotional outrage that followed the Pepsi commercial with Kendall Jenner. The intended message of unity clearly backfired and was criticized to trivialize serious protest. Pepsi subsequently pulled the ad. One wonders whether they could have investigated the emotional response a bit better in advance.

The Use of Facial Expressions

Hence, it is a good idea to test how an advertisement (or other communication message) affects the emotions of your intended audience. This study argues that it is best to do this by measuring the affective non-verbal response instead of the cognitive response. People are usually not watching commercials very consciously. When you ask people to actively judge a commercial this is a different type of situation than they would normally watch a commercial in. People might be inclined to be friendly or have a bias in their opinion when the advertisement is finished. It is therefore better to measure their unconscious response while they watch the commercial, for example by measuring their facial expressions. This study indicates a relation between happy facial expressions and purchase intend.

So why use facial expression analysis? Because emotions matter in marketing. It is important to know the emotional impact of your advertisement.

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