PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
The Ultimate Edge: Establishing Emotional Benefits
Do you know why customers buy your products and services? Or what
motivates employees to do their best and stay with your firm?
Chances are the answer isnt in the tangible description of
your products or the salary you offer your employees. Those attributes
tend to be short lived. They are important, for example, only until
your competitor matches your products features or another
company offers your employee slightly more money.
The key to establishing a lasting relationship with your customers
and employees lies in understanding the emotional benefits that
your company or brand offers. Emotional benefits enable the consumer
or employee to say something positive about him or herself as a
result of using a product or service or belonging to your staff.
These benefits are the vehicle for establishing an emotional connection
between the product/service and the user or employee. The emotional
connection builds the trust that leads to loyalty. With the connection
firmly in place, loyal shareholders, customers and employees will
be less likely to abandon the brand because they know they can count
on it. In the end, this emotional connection can help retain or
gain market share.
Say Something Nice About Me
For example, the following are emotional benefits we have observed
when conducting qualitative research for a range of clients:
Knowing that I can receive on-the-job training to
advance to store manager makes me feel successful just like the
guy down the street who went to college and works for IBM.
When I prepare a whole turkey from scratch, I feel
like more of an accomplished mom.
When my employer produces training materials in Spanish,
I feel they are recognizing me as a Hispanic and reaching out to
me. That makes me feel important and pay more attention to what
they are trying to get us to do for customers.
Working with a pharmaceutical company that has a history
of standing behind their products tells me that I can trust them.
That level of trust allows me to focus on the patient and ultimately
be a better physician.
Being in the Elite Member Club gives me prestige. When
I bring friends to the Club as my guests, I feel proud like a
very important person.
Case Study: Establishing an Emotional
Heres an example of a practical application of emotional benefits.
When public relations agency Kemper Lesnik introduced Renova, a
Johnson & Johnson prescription drug that reduces wrinkles, JRS
Consulting, Inc. conducted focus groups to explore how women felt
about the aging process. Our in-depth discussions revealed that
when it comes to wrinkles, women think beauty and not
medicine. The emotional benefit associated with using
Renova was that women would feel more attractive if they reduced
their wrinkles. However, feeling attractive was more associated
with a setting that suggested pampering and self-improvement than
the clinical image of a physicians office.
To convey this idea, Kemper Lesnik effectively positioned Renova
as a cosmetic rather than a prescribed medication. They offered
dermatologists in Nordstroms cosmetic counters and booked
dermatologists on the air to link skin care and beauty with Renova.
According to Kemper Lesnik, Renova prescriptions increased dramatically
as thousands lined up at Nordstroms cosmetic counters. Understanding
the emotional benefit that women associated with Renova allowed
the PR firm to position the product in a way that established an
emotional connection with the end user.
By the way, we are seeing a further trend in this area with the
recent increase in medical spas. This new concept combines
cosmetic procedures administered by medically trained professionals
with the more traditional spa treatments such as manicures and pedicures.
Day spas are expanding their services to offer medical procedures
administered by medically trained professionals such as Botox injections.
At the same time, some cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists are
including massage and nail care among their services. Clearly, the
cosmetics and medical worlds have discovered that promoting the
emotional benefits of their products and expertise are very powerful
Communicating Facts With Feelings
When we conduct focus groups or interviews to explore reactions
to products, services or communications, we probe to get at the
emotional reactions that lead to identifying potential emotional
benefits. By understanding what lies beneath what people initially
tell us, we can help our clients to identify the most compelling
way to tell their stories.
For example, when senior executives in business-to-business research
responded indifferently to promotional materials describing a specific
geographic location as a potential area for business expansion,
we probed to further understand their objections. We discovered
that the executives considered the site under discussion to be unsophisticated,
with an untrained workforce. The examples presented in the materials
of thriving automobile plants only emphasized that image. This
article suggests early 1900s labor, explained a financial
executive. It doesnt sound sophisticated. The
solution: Create materials that emphasize the areas skilled
labor industries such as telecommunications and medical electronics,
and promote the populations level of education and cultural
Another initiative involved exploring employee reactions to a hotel
chains attempt to deliver better customer service. We were
originally retained to explore employee reactions to the customer
service training materials that the hotel had prepared, including
aspects such as clarity and accessibility. However, our research
also uncovered emotional benefits associated with the new focus
on service. Specifically, employees described feeling empowered
by the new training their employer had instituted, leading to increased
commitment to their employer.
When hotel staff implemented the service actions they had learned,
they were rewarded by the improved way hotel guests treated them,
leading them to feel valued and better about themselves and their
work. For some employees, these positive feelings led to an increased
commitment to stay with the organization and work to advance to
department supervisor. Other staff members said that hearing hotel
guests make comments about the improved service made them feel proud
to work for the chain. Overall, our exploration of emotional benefits
showed that the hotel chains attempts to improve customer
relationships with better service had also resulted in more
Last but not least, we have found that even our own market research
offers clients emotional benefits. In a casual conversation recently,
one of our clients noted, Jenny, you help companies develop
a kind of magnetism that attracts customers and employees.
For this client, our product communications consulting
based on research offered the emotional benefit of a feeling
of increased confidence in ultimate success.
The bottom line here: To establish a lasting relationship with your
customers and employees, think less about what you make in the plant
and more about what these important audiences want from you. Understanding
the emotional benefits of your products and services leads to the
invaluable ability to translate share of heart to market share.
Jenny Schade is president of JRS
Consulting, Inc., a firm that helps organizations build leading
brands and efficiently attract and retain employees and customers. Subscribe to the free JRS newsletter on www.jrsconsulting.net/newsletter.html
© JRS Consulting, Inc. 2007