The secret to unlocking feel-good emotions

It's easy to get cynical about advertising. The AMC series Mad Men highlighted the tricks used by big business to sell cars, cigarettes, nylons or beer. “While it was only a TV show, there were some fascinating truths revealed”, admits Paul Ringsell of Beyond.

You are the product. You feeling something. That's what sells.” Don Draper.

And it's true. According to Dr Jeffery Schwartz, a research psychiatrist at UCLA, “buying and selling are brain-to-brain processes.” We like to make and see patterns and are programmed to look for visual and emotional cues that trigger our responses. If you can trigger your customers into a reward state, they will most likely buy from you because it makes them feel good.

How do you make the customer feel good?

Dr Schwartz believes it's all about creating environments that enable us to experience those feel-good emotions which eventually lead to greater customer engagement and loyalty.

Some the ways to create a reward state are:

  • Alleviate uncertainty
  • Connect emotionally with the customer
  • Include the customer in your brand's vision
  • Provide a contrast to allow for choice
  • Show how you can provide a tangible solution

One Step Further

Of course every business wants to employ these strategies to sell, but we go one step further", says Paul Ringsell founder of Beyond, "we not only embrace feel-good strategies, but we select feel-good brands to work with. Brands that we feel actually contribute to our quality of life.”

Feel-Good Brands are intrinsic to a healthy lifestyle, they inspire us, uplift us and form positive emotional connections with their audience. They might make high quality, nutritious food, or sports products which help us perform better, fitness services and wearables that help us stay strong or offer unique health benefits.

“We chose this direction because it helps us do our job better. We feel genuinely positive about the products and services we represent.” Andy Brattle (Director, Beyond)

Research carried out by COIN and Beyond defined some of the key principles of what it means to be a Feel-Good Brand;

  • Creating an positive emotional connection
  • Touching people on a unique and personal level
  • Understanding how to trigger feel-good emotions
  • Reaching out to customers in real ways
  • Providing transparent and useful methods for engagement
  • Being honest and genuine about quality, value and price
  • Allowing the customers to help shape your brand

Their report is a manifesto for how and why this Feel-Good approach can, and should, be part of your brand strategy. Download the report for free.

Creating an Experience

Like Don Draper said, feeling something is what connects us to the brand. Scientists have discovered that having an awe-inducing experience makes people feel better and act nicer. “Awe has an important collective function,” says Paul Piff, an assistant professor of psychology at University of California, Irvine, “It helps people fold into their groups by helping them feel less entitled and clueing them in to bigger things like [the relative insignificance of] our species.” And of course feeling part of something bigger and belonging to a group is a key factor to feeling good.

Sponsors of the 2011 ING New York City marathon, Asics implemented ‘Run with Ryan’, a campaign that invited the public to physically engage with the record-breaking long-distance runner Ryan Hall. They wanted fans to truly experience the champion runner's 6-foot-10 stride length and 4:46 mile pace.

A 60ft video wall was set up in Columbus Circle subway station where fans and punters could have a go at running alongside Ryan. Few could keep up, even for only 60 feet, and then they were hit with the fact that Ryan could run this fast for 26.2 miles. This fact would have left those who took part or even just observed feeling in awe of this champion sportsman.

“What would begin with excitement and competitive feelings would have led to thrill, surprise and then end with shock and admiration" Ringsell comments on the impact of the campaign, "that's a powerful message that's not just heard but felt with every pounding heart beat and heaving breath”.