Let's Get Emo!

By Isaac Wilson
(Text Ferret CEO/Founder)

Understanding humans is tough.

We all know this; we often struggle to even understand ourselves!

As a marketer I have always been interested in the real psychology of what makes people decide to buy what they buy. This started back in university where the study of buyer behaviour fascinated me, but the ability to translate attitudes to behaviours was always such a sketchy process. The methodologies used 30 years ago were always fraught as they relied on asking people what they thought, how they felt and then asked them again what they actually did. There are many opportunities for bias, and this was always hard to detect.

Then along came the big data game, finally we had the ability to actually measure what people did. We had consumer purchase decisions from transactional purchase data, we had web click data, we now started to join the dots between the ads and communications people were exposed to and then what they ended up doing. This was revolutionary. We could now predict the likelihood of certain behaviours based off a whole raft of independent variables. This was the age of reason.

Data driven marketing had arrived.

But this still was only dealing with the two ends of the process – stimulus and behaviour. We still had no way of actually understanding the decision-making process that linked these two extremes of the buyer behaviour process.

Understanding decision making means we can truly understand the person, isn’t this what true customer centricity is all about?

But first, what is decision making actually made up of? There’s been lots of research about this, but essentially it boils down to two main processes – the rational and the emotional.

The rational process is the analytical decisioning that weighs options, thinks through consequences, and influences the final decision.

Emotional is that reactionary, gut feel, instinctive element that impacts what we actually do end up doing. The interesting thing is that in most consumer decisioning, the emotional drivers make up 90% of the influence on the final decision.

This is incredible. Here we are out there thinking how rational and analytical we are at deciding how we run our lives, but in actual fact we are heavily driven by emotion and feelings - stuff that we often don’t even admit to ourselves!

So, what does all this mean? Well, it means if we want to get customer-centric we need to understand emotion. But this is tough. No one wears their emotions on the shirt-sleeve, and more importantly there is no data footprint of emotion. Well, is there? This is what has changed. Over the last 20 years we have had huge increases in the volume of data transactional data contained in all this IT system, good behavioural evidence. But within the last 5 years unstructured data has surpassed the volume of structured data, and the kicker is that emotion is hidden in this unstructured data.

Just think about it, where are people bearing their souls? Where do we flair up and offer opinion? Our society has produced the means for us to communicate each and every whim with each other. Social media. This is emotion as data.

But up until now, this emotion has been locked in the written word, this is not structured, this is not easy to analyse, this is not available.

The game changer is now with the latest AI tech we can extract meaning from unstructured data. This means we can extract emotion from society’s log of human communication. Bringing emotional insight into the consumer purchase decision understanding is now enabling organisations the ability to become truly customer centric by not just seeing what they do, but by understanding why they do it. Subtle but critical. Brands that have superior customer centricity bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors (Forbes).

It is time to take notice of emotion as this is the piece of the consumer behaviour jigsaw we have been missing!

Brands that have superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors.