Today’s brand marketing and PR can be an emotional roller coaster—at least it shouldbe, if brands are doing it right. In fact, brand communicators might need to trade in their data analysis hat for a behavior analysis hat to figure out how their customers “feel.” New research from customer insights tech firm FocusVision found that feeling is 1.5x stronger in influencing customer buying decisions and loyalty, outweighing any other factor measured in their study.

According to the firm’s new study, How Customers Think, Feel, And Act: The Paradigm Of Business Outcomes, conducted by Forrester Consulting, when a brand understands the real motivations underlying customer decision-making, or their “Customer Truth”—how they think, feel and act—they can connect their story to their customer’s story and drive business outcomes like revenue, advocacy, and loyalty upward.

Why understanding emotions is a key driver of business predictability for brands

Today, companies over-rely on big data to understand their customers

Brands have misconceptions of which data properly measures how customers think and feel. As a result, 56 percent of brands say their strategy is informed nearly or fully by big data—and this over-reliance has led to challenges in customer understanding, technology, and organizational communication. The research found that brands using small data as a basis for their knowledge of how customers think and feel are more likely to say they know why one customer chooses to buy while another doesn’t.

Brands currently rely on metrics like loyalty (60 percent), revenue growth (60 percent), and brand awareness (46 percent) to track their success with customers

As stated in the study, “Our research is conclusive: How people think and feel determines how they act. What appears to be a simple notion has eluded marketers for decades; dyed-in-the-wool brand marketers have been reluctant to let go of inside-out marketing principles focused on product, pricing, and promotions.

Why understanding emotions is a key driver of business predictability for brands

“In the last several years, a growing movement of psychology-influenced marketing, behavioral economics, and proof points … illustrates the importance of emotions in consumer decision making,” the study continues. “The first step to collecting the right data and performing the right research is to frame the issue correctly, and organizations looking to impact consumer decision making must afford primacy to how people think and feel.”

There is a disconnect between how brands perceive customer behavior and how customers actually feel

While over half of brands believe they understand how their customers think and feel, only 38 percent strongly agree they know why one customer chooses their brand while another does not, despite realizing how their business benefits from this knowledge.

Why understanding emotions is a key driver of business predictability for brands

Small data is better at translating “Customer Truth”

Fifty-twopercent of brands agree that small data is better than big data at helping brands understand the why behind a customer’s actions, but nearly half of brands agree they don’t have enough small data insights on their customers.

Why understanding emotions is a key driver of business predictability for brands

Customers will seek out and pay for personal brand connection

Ninety-one percent of brands believe customers want convenient and highly personalized experiences with a brand and 93 percent agree that consumers are more likely to spend money with a brand they feel connected to. To accomplish this, brands must know their Customer Truth to understand why customers act and create this connection.

“At FocusVision, we help brands find their Customer Truth™, to understand how customers think and feel, and why they act,” said Zlatko Vucetic, CEO at FocusVision, in a news release. “The findings of this study reinforce that data-driven brands need to operationalize how to look at Big and Small data holistically. In turn, they will gain a deeper customer understanding and create a more sustainable business model from loyal brand advocates, not just one time purchasers and create predictability in their business–a goal for every business today.”

Download the full study here.

Why understanding emotions is a key driver of business predictability for brands

The study is the result of two surveys: The first included 522 US consumers who were asked to recall and describe how they thought, felt, and acted throughout a memorable brand experience. The second surveyed 228 US B2C marketing and customer insights decision makers, including 54 CMOs, to gain insight into how they seek to understand their customers and what key challenges are holding them back.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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