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The Dark Side of Emotional Marketing

Entrepreneur Mike Szczesny reveals how emotional appeal, if not carefully executed, can potentially harm brand perception.

Emotional marketing remains a powerful tool in a brand’s arsenal, capable of deepening connections with audiences and influencing behavior. Yet, this strategy is evolving rapidly, underscored by recent shifts toward influencer marketing and a refined understanding of consumer values.

Photo: Mike Szczesny, owner and VP of EDCO Awards & Specialties | Courtesy

Insights from the last two years shed light on how emotional appeal, if not carefully executed, can potentially harm brand perception.


The Emotional Appeal of Influencer Marketing

Recent trends indicate substantial growth in the influencer marketing industry, which was projected to reach approximately $21.1 billion in 2023. Influencers, especially on platforms like TikTok, have become pivotal in emotional marketing strategies due to their ability to engender trust through transparency and authenticity. This evolution signifies a shift from traditional emotional appeals to those embedded within the digital narratives crafted by influencers, emphasizing the importance of genuineness in brand messaging.

Understanding the delicate balance between emotional and rational appeals is critical in crafting marketing strategies that resonate without alienating. A 2023 study explores the influence of social network emotional marketing on consumer purchase behaviors, underlining the significance of psychological factors such as trust and attachment in this dynamic. This research provides insights into how emotional marketing, when executed on social platforms, can deepen brand-consumer connections, thereby impacting consumer decisions and behaviors in a meaningful way.


Authentic Emotional Engagement Strategies

The landscape of emotional marketing is rapidly evolving, necessitating strategies that foster authentic connections between brands and their audiences. Here’s a look at how brands can navigate this terrain:


Leverage influencer authenticity

The burgeoning influencer marketing industry underscores the shift towards more personal, relatable marketing methods. With their built-in audiences and perceived authenticity, influencers offer brands a unique opportunity to present their messages in a more genuine light. However, the effectiveness of this strategy hinges on the influencer’s alignment with the brand’s values and their ability to maintain transparency with their audience.

It’s not just about the number of followers but the trust and engagement they can foster. For brands, this means choosing influencers who resonate with their core values and can genuinely advocate for their products or services.


Harness the power of live engagement

Live formats like videos, webinars, and podcasts are unparalleled in their ability to create an immediate and authentic connection with audiences. They offer a raw, unedited glimpse into the brand’s world, making the emotional appeal more genuine and relatable.

This strategy leverages spontaneity and interaction, allowing for real-time engagement that can significantly deepen the brand-consumer relationship. Brands should consider incorporating live Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes looks, and live demonstrations to capitalize on this dynamic format’s benefits.


Value-based marketing

The evolving landscape of consumer expectations, particularly in the realm of sustainability, has necessitated a shift towards value-based marketing strategies. In the 2023 study mentioned above, there is a growing emphasis on marketing strategies that resonate with the consumers’ increasing demand for sustainability.

This research underscores the critical role of aligning marketing efforts with consumer behavior and purchase intentions that are increasingly influenced by social and environmental consciousness. By tapping into emotional and life-changing values, brands can cultivate deeper loyalty and affinity among their consumer base, highlighting the importance of a nuanced understanding of the target audience’s desires, fears, and aspirations.


Prioritize emotional over functional appeal

In the face of external challenges ranging from geopolitical conflicts to economic instability and climate change threats, brands are finding new avenues for growth through emotional appeals. Deloitte’s 2023 Global Marketing Trends report illustrates how marketers are leveraging emotional connections to create levers for organizational growth amid uncertainty.

This approach focuses on elevating brand success by integrating emotional appeals that resonate with deeper consumer needs, such as connection, well-being, and self-actualization.

Consider the marketing of glass trophies, a product that might seem purely functional at first glance. Yet, when positioned as symbols of recognition and achievement, they transcend their physical form. Through strategic emphasis on emotional over functional appeals, brands are positioned to not only meet their customers’ immediate needs but also enrich their lives in meaningful ways, thereby enhancing brand perception and loyalty.


Final Thoughts

The insights from recent studies and practices in emotional marketing highlight the evolving landscape brands must navigate. As the role of influencers becomes increasingly central and our understanding of consumer values deepens, brands are offered new pathways to engage with their audiences emotionally. However, this evolution also demands a renewed focus on authenticity, trust, and value-based engagement. By integrating these elements into their strategies, brands can ensure that their use of emotional appeal strengthens their connection with consumers, enhancing brand perception positively.


Mike Szczesny is the owner and vice president of EDCO Awards & Specialties, a dedicated supplier of employee recognition products, branded merchandise, and athletic awards. Szczesny takes pride in EDCO’s ability to help companies go the extra mile in expressing gratitude and appreciation to their employees. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


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