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05 September 2019

Hooked on a feeling: why tapping into consumers’ emotions is essential for growth

Packaging that triggers “excitement” is just the start, considering what we know about brand psychology today. Equator's group creative director, Michael Duffy, explores further...


So you want to achieve greater standout in a crowded marketplace? While you’re probably somewhat satisfied by scoring the odd impulse buy, most companies seek the kind of consumer devotion that leads to long-term sales growth and expansion.

To nurture relationships with your target market and create meaningful connections, you need to address a concept that’s often perceived as a bit slippery in the staunch corporate world: emotion.

Brand psychology goes far beyond simply making a product appear exciting, though that is certainly part of it. Connecting with consumers’ emotions is complex, and can be accomplished in myriad ways – brands can offer nostalgia, storytelling, problem-solving, community or help in achieving a closely-held aspiration. The more artfully and subtly this is accomplished, the better, since the least effective bid for emotion possible entails brand messaging that looks and sounds like marketing.

If this sounds tricky, it doesn’t have to be. Virtually any product can carry emotional impact if it helps to solve or ease the consumer’s pain point. As a simple example, beauty shelves are full of products that claim to lighten, tighten and rejuvenate, and these all satisfy a very similar pain point relating to our desire to feel confident and (somewhat irksomely) our insecurities around unattractiveness and ageing. Convenience food and drink help us to save time and stress, while healthy foods and sustainable goods can give us a boost while alleviating guilt around fat, carbs and a negative environmental impact.


Building trust

In this moment, we are living through a singular point in history. Work schedules and connectivity have changed the way we work as well as our family lives, while changes in government and leadership have led to global destabilisation. Cumulatively, the fluctuations and speed at which things are moving have led people to seek stability and to stick by elements that are the most consistent and trustworthy.  

According to Adweek, consistency is key, since consistent experiences over time lead to trust. This is something we learn in our personal lives and professional lives, as we learn to trust friends who we can rely on to be consistently supportive and available. Trusting a brand is different, argues Adweek, because it involves the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or the frequency illusion, which makes it appear that once you’ve seen something, it seems to appear all around you. Buyers are experiencing your brand online, offline, and seemingly all around, while “consistent taglines and an unchanging brand promise make it easy for your target audience to remember and embrace your product or service”.



Brands that are perceived as caring about consumers and “trying to make the world a better place”, are more likely to gain traction with the consumers of today. As consumers find more ways to maximise their resource, ie to accomplish more with the money they are spending, they are wielding their purchasing power to get behind brands they believe in.

For brands, however, getting ahead necessitates more than just showing willing. To have impact, brands need to demonstrate that they are walking the walk, and make it clear that what they project on the outside is a central ethos of the company from the top down. Social responsibility begins at home, so to speak. Whether it’s donating a portion of their profits to established charities or mobilising do-gooders to create their own fundraising programmes, it’s now becoming a common belief that the larger a company becomes the more it should be doing for communities and individuals in need.

It’s also a lifeline for PR purposes, since it can help to mitigate foibles and missteps on the part of the company. For example Starbucks has experienced its fair share of public relations snafus, from alleged unfair scheduling policies for its employees to racial bias. However, its literary campaigns and its initiatives for sustainable coffee cultivation and the hiring of refugees have helped to steady the ship.

Since brands have to communicate more of their messages within a narrowing span of attention, educating consumers via packaging and at the point of sale has never been more important. Communicating consistency, commitment to community, as well as how products make consumers feel good and relieve pain points, told across digital and more traditional touchpoints and using the frequency illusion, create brands consumers truly believe in.

So, are you ready to get inside the head of your target market? We can help. Contact Equator to gain more insight into the latest packaging trends and learn more about what we can do for your brand.