Selling emotions as a competitive advantage

1 Dez

In Danny‘s article „Cross-selling ist kein Garant für Erfolg“ he presents 6 conditions, which firms are assumed to meet in order to be eligible as a successful Cross-Seller. Daniela&Andrea (Authors of the Blog „German CopyCats“) examined various firms with the help of the 6 stated points with the result: all preconditions are met – firm is successful!

The key to success

The key to success

This fact raised the following question: aren‘t these preconditions necessary for the success of any kind of business or do they only apply for cross-sellers? And when we talk about preconditions: aren‘t these 6 points only the basics / the framework for a business? But if so, what is the real key to success?

I started my research and read through all the comments below Daniela‘s article. Some of the comments said, that offering a pleasant atmosphere (e.g. in a kiosk or in a bank) is very much appreciated by the customers. Due to the nice atmosphere, they spend more time in the store, maybe buy more articles or more often in that store and eventually become a loyal customer.

Now having loyal customers is one of the main goals of enterprises. But how do firms achieve customer loyalty?

Is it possible to sell emotions?

Customer satisfaction can be achieved when the customer‘s needs and expectations are exceeded by an added value (for more information about customer satisfaction see Danny’s article from November, 8th). Creating a nice atmosphere makes the client feel positively about a firm. Now the positive feeling, when buying in a specific store, is the added value to the primary product a client is buying.
Selling emotions – a flash of genius! Unfortunately I was not the first one to discover this secret formula…

Emotional branding would be the headline for this phenomenon. Organisations strategically create these good feelings and with it build customer loyalty.
Nowadays people‘s buying motivation is much more hedonistic than it was 20 years ago. We are more aware of brands and the values proposed by these brands.

According to Lake, 2009, „a good brand delivers a clear message, confirms the credibility of the company behind it, motivates the buyer, concretes the users loyalty and connect your target prospects emotionally“ (Lake, L. (2009) Branding Basics,

A brand lives within the hearts and minds of the customers and builds the sum of all their experiences and perceptions.

10 Commandments for Emotional Branding

„Today‘s most successful companies are said to build relationships with customers by engaging them in a personal dialogue that responds to their needs“, says Marc Gobé, the Godfather of emotional branding. In his book „Emotional Branding: The Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People“ he introduces 10 commandments for emotional branding.

Marc Gobé

Marc Gobé

1. Surcease the thinking of the consumer as an enemy and start viewing them as individuals, persons or people, who do not only buy but live.

2. Try to sell experiences instead of products. Buying a product fulfills a need – buying an experience fulfills desires, which allows the development of positive associations.

3. Move from honesty to trust. Honesty, to some extend, is the basis for the consumer‘s decision to re-purchase a product, but only trust builds a connection to the customer.

4. Quality has to be one of the principal features of your product, but if your product is being preferred over others, this is a major key towards success.

5. Create emotions for your brand, that consumers bear in their mind. Notoriety is not enough. Being known does not mean that you are also loved. If you want to be desired you have to connect to people‘s aspirations.

6. Move from identity to personality, which means that you should not only try to be recognized but also to have character and charisma, because only these features evoke an emotional response from the customer.

7. From Function to Feel! Sensory experiences over the basic requirement of functionality. There are many brands who achieved to create sensory feelings as Apple iMac, Gillette or Absolute Vodka.

8. Emotional presence is not achieved through ubiquity. Ubiquity is about quantity, whereas emotional presence is something people feel and which can only be achieved through a memorable experience.

9. Build a relationship over a service and

10. a dialogue instead of one-way communication

„Marketers that understand the power of building deep connections to customers are builders of real brands“ (Speros, James D., 2004). If they conceive that the rational component of a purchase decision is important, but that it is only the emotional side that makes customers come back, they will be able to sustainable relationships which enable them to benefit from long product life cycles and revenue streams and brand can withstand competitive attacks.

This video describes the importance of emotions in the buying-process. Antonio Damasio is a professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California. His research has helped to explain the neural basis for emotions and has demonstrated that emotions play a significant role in decision-making.

Why the Harley brand‘s so hot…

One brand is the role model of building emotional connections to their customers: No other brand has the degree of „unshakable loyalty and advocacy“ as the Harley-Davidson Motor Co.

Harley Davidson machines are the World‘s most recognizable motorcycles and are deeply connected to the American culture and values.

If you buy a Harley you don‘t only buy a motorbike, but a whole lifestyle. Harley Davidson motorcycles symbolize individualism, freedom and rebellion.

People who buy a Harley don‘t buy it as a mode of transportation – they want to be part of the Harley Davidson Family – „a community of free-spirited adventure seekers“.

Love brand

Love brand

And there are lots of these love brands. Think of Apple, which has a great community, Starbucks, where the coffee is nice but people actually go there because of the atmosphere, Nivea, which is a real family brand, Haägen Dasz, Google, Audi…

To sum it all up…

I would like to point out that it is possible to induce a cross-selling effect by „selling“ emotions and feelings. People‘s buying motivation is more hedonistic, i.e. pleasure and experience oriented, than 20 years ago. Creating positive emotions for a brand is crucial for gaining customer loyalty. Customer‘s loyalty stabilizes the brand‘s position on the market and can be a competitive advantage.

American Marketing Association,
Gobé, Marc (2001) Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to people, allworth Press, new York
Gobé, Marc (2001) Making the emotional connection, Brandweek January 29, 2001, Vol. 42 Issue 5, p. 23
Speros, James D. (2004) Why the Harley Brand‘s so hot, Advertising Age, March 15, 2004, Vol. 75 Issue 11, p. 26
Lake, L. (2009) Branding Basics,

Love Marks by Saatchi&Saatchi
Love Marks by Saatchi&Saatchi


Interested in that topic?

Click here to learn more about lovemarks by Saatchi&Saatchi!

Click here to learn more about Antonio Damasio!

4 Antworten to “Selling emotions as a competitive advantage”


  1. Customer, business models, internet, strategies & market leaders – what should you do? « Coffee in a box - Dezember 2, 2010

    […] Lena wrote in her post: Selling emotions as a competitive advantage, Apple knows exactly how to get the attention of their fans. It touches the emotions of the shopper […]

  2. Coffee in a box - Dezember 6, 2010

    […] diesem Beitrag möchte ich thematisch an meinen vorangegangenen Artikel „Emotional Branding as a competitive Advantage“ vom 01.12.2010 und Danny‘s Artikel „Customer, business models, internet, strategies & […]

  3. This week on Coffee in a Box… « Coffee in a box - Dezember 7, 2010

    […] Selling emotions as a competitive advantage, by Lena, 01.12.2010 Der vermeintliche Schlüssel zum Erfolg: Hier wird ein Ansatz geboten, der das Phänomen der emotionalen Bindung des Kunden an ein Produkt und die Bedeutung von Kundenloyalität untersucht. […]

  4. Diversifikation, emotional selling & branding – Sybille Hein « Coffee in a box - Dezember 8, 2010

    […] für Diversifikation und emotional Branding bzw. selling emotions. Wie Lena in Ihrem Artikel Selling Emotions as a competitive advantage beschreibt, nutzt auch das Team um Sybille Hein die emotionale Bindung der Leser um weitere […]

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