Friend or foe?

As a brand, what type of friend are you? Are you the friend who never stops talking about yourself? Are you only available when you want something? Do you remember what your friends told you just a week ago? Harnessing and acting on emotional data can help brands move beyond CX, basic customer experience, into the broader, deeper connections that make up human experience, or HX, becoming the kind of friends they need to be.

Below you will find best branding practices gleamed by Deloitte’s new research study, Exploring the value of emotion-driven engagement, as it relates to the work we are doing for our upstarts at Match Design and Match CMO.

"The ability to recognize and use emotional data at scale is one of the biggest, most important opportunities for companies that we work with at Match Design." --Jane Lalonde, CMO

Intuitively, it’s easy to understand that emotions play a role in shaping customers’ experiences with brands and service providers. And yet, beyond marketing, very few organizations are adequately thinking about their customers’ feelings, or more importantly, acting upon how and when emotions impact connection and loyalty to a brand. In today’s highly personalized consumer landscape in which people have grown to not only expect but relish in authentic and responsive interactions with brands, this represents a potent opportunity.

Deloitte’s new research study, Exploring the value of emotion-driven engagement, offers compelling, actionable findings about how emotions influence customer behavior and brand loyalty at key moments that extend well beyond marketing. In addition to conducting primary research with more than 800 consumers, we developed an innovative multimethod approach that integrated social listening, an online panel, and data meta-analysis to contextualize results. The research, which sought to understand how and why brands can humanize post-purchase interactions to drive lasting profitable relationships, yielded four key themes with repercussions for brands seeking to deepen customer connections.

Get sticky

Our research considered three elements of connection between consumers and brands: emotional responses, rational considerations, and shared values. We found that when consumers initially interact with brands, rational considerations such as price, loyalty programs, or promotions are top of mind. These rational influences also tend to prompt the end of a brand relationship. The majority of people who leave while using a product or service leave for rational reasons like increased prices, faulty products, or wrong orders.

Emotional responses, on the other hand, are paramount to almost everything that lies between the beginning and end of a consumer’s relationship with a brand. They inspire brand “stickiness” or loyalty, as well as advocacy. It’s telling that well over half of long-term customers use words like love, happy, and adore about their favorite brands. That’s the same way they talk about their family, friends, and pets.

We find it fascinating that while shared values are clearly helpful for marketing and brand positioning, these shared values reflect a need that is satiated at the beginning of the brand relationship. In fact, only a tiny percentage of people would recommend a product or brand to others based on the company’s values or corporate responsibility principles—whereas nearly half would do so based on emotional criteria.

Clearly, there is business value in collecting and using the right kind of data to strengthen emotional connections with consumers. However, achieving this will be contingent on having a cohesive technology ecosystem in place that is capable of dynamically translating human insights into actions.

Got strategy?

Customer engagement needs to be contextually appropriate, consistent, empathetic, and responsive.Given the sheer quantity of touch points between customers and brands—online and offline—the challenge of collecting, reading, and reacting to every emotional cue in appropriate ways is enormous and very strategic.