Emotion Mining - Capturing, Understanding, and Leveraging the
Emotions Underpinning Brand Behavior
by Greg Thomas
Diving into Emotions
it be great if you could really understand your customers? Reach
deep down into their psyche and latch onto the right emotional
buttons to trigger their buying decisions? Better yet, reach down
there and test their reactions to the brand you are putting on
the table, your latest promotion, your customer service, or even
the new layout of your store. It's not as far-fetched as it sounds.
fact, Liam Fahey and Dr. Tom Snyder of Emotion
Mining Company are already doing it.
described their methodology at a Forum sponsored by The Institute
of Brand Science at Emory University.
an adjunct professor of Strategic Management at Babson College,
is Executive Director of Emotion Mining Company. He previously
taught at Northwestern and Boston universities. Dr. Snyder, the
founder of the company, is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist with
MD and PhD degrees from Stanford University. He invented "Emotion
Mining" to measure emotions and prioritize the "(subconscious)
heart of the matter" in work with his therapeutic clients.
Stimulate Emotions and Emotions Stimulate Brand Behavior
1989, when it became evident to Snyder that his methodology could
reliably identify how to motivate and inspire new interest and
new behavior based on uncovering unappreciated but recognizable
feelings and thoughts, he began to consult with major corporations.
The results, especially those derived from understanding both
customers and employees, provide critical input in determining
marketing strategies, advertising programs, and sales approaches.
joined Snyder to develop a web-based implementation of the methodology
to capture emotional responses. The Result? "Emotion Mining"
- a versatile research, communication and decision-making system
that can be employed to capture and analyze emotional responses
to any facet of a brand, including name, icon, attribute, functionality,
experience, service, quality, ideal, etc.
Beyond the Focus Group
groups have traditionally been used in marketing to explore consumer
attitudes. However, focus groups have limitations. Typically people
cannot tell you the nuances of the emotions they are feeling,
either due to inhibitions in an open setting or simply their inability
to adequately describe things or even know what they truly feel.
Mining uses a different approach; it uncovers hidden - unappreciated
but recognizable - subconscious emotions and motivations. Remember
Freud's iceberg from Psychology 101? Our most intense feelings
are buried deep beneath the surface. With simple training, subjects
can identify and explain these feelings through a set of self-expression
steps on their computer screen. The data gathering method only
requires the subject to relax and play, and draw and type in a
of us know that brands go to the heart of building value for the
customer," says Fahey. "Think of all the major issues
concerning brands. The question of emotions always comes into
play. What has been needed is a sensitive, rigorous and reliable
discipline to plumb emotions."
happens if we don't understand the emotional context of a brand?
What investments might be in peril?" asks Fahey. "We
find that companies are largely unaware of the depth and strength
of the emotions customers feel about brands - both positive
and negative. Do you think this gets the attention of the
in-depth interviews, and focus groups only take us so far,"
says Snyder. "These methods are suitable until we run into
something like 'I think it, but I won't say it' or 'I sense it,
but I can't articulate it'. Emotion Mining overcomes these limitations
by providing a way around interpersonal and personality biases,
and thus is able to obtain the "heart of the matter".
Mining: Amassing Customer Perceptions Above and Below the
Mining uses a specially designed "sonargram" to plot the breadth
and depth of conscious and subconscious feelings towards a brand
or concept. On the right side of the diagram, positive emotions
are plotted; the left side plots negative emotions. Externally
focused emotions are on the top half, and internally focused are
on the bottom. Once all emotional results are plotted on the diagram,
the result is a profile of the customer's emotional feelings about
a brand or concept - in fact, why and how to motivate and inspire
new interest and new behavior. This information can be used to
build emotional "bridges" between customer needs and experiences,
and the products developed by a company with its own definable
Mining Sonargram: High Level View
Emotional Understanding: The Golden Fleece
Through Emotion Mining, a marketer not only gains the ability
to better understand brands, but also the ability to (1) discern
unmet customer needs through deconstructing the customer experience;
(2) explain product/service failures, deficiencies, and vulnerabilities
- as well as successes, strengths, and advantages - in customer
language; and (3) prioritize the emotional, rational, and social
aspects of a brand to guide external and internal marketing investments.
Sensitive emotion benchmarks can be established to continually
improve and inspire brand positioning, product enhancement, and
example, Emotion Mining can aid the sales process by showing what
specific emotions are "in play" on both sides of the
table. Customers and employees experience different emotions.
When employees exhibit a stronger emotional competency in dealing
with clients, they greatly improve their productivity. Snyder
and Fahey believe that organizations have much to gain in developing
an integrated understanding of customer and employee emotions.
Interrelated outcomes can be expected on many fronts, including:
dramatically improved customer experience, increased sales, enhanced
employee job satisfaction, reduced employee turnover, and lowered
employee training and development costs.
is no small feat to uncover and unravel the complexity of emotions
that a single customer experiences during a brand experience.
Through use of such clarified emotional reference points, brand
managers can focus on the gaps in the delivery of brand experience,
and use these insights to create new customer value and enhanced