Affect Heuristic

🤔 Did you know…

Jolie, the showerhead company, made headlines with a jaw-dropping $4M in their first year.

But this wasn’t beginner’s luck. Jolie understood something critical about marketing a new product—emotion sells.

Let’s explore how you can leverage emotion to turn browsers into buyers…

Special offer from our sponsor Ignite Digital and Sparktoro SparkTogether ❤️

Imagine this…

You’re having a reallllllllllly rough day.

First you sleep through your alarm and you’re late for an important Zoom meeting.

Then you burn your breakfast sandwich in the toaster oven and nearly set your house on fire.

While running to turn off the smoke alarm… you trip, fall flat on your face, and your phone goes flying out of your hand.

You pick it up to investigate and—yup—the screen is cracked.

Faaaaaaaaaaaak 😖

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse your phone pings.

It’s an email about your book proposal. (The one you spent the last month working on.) Your book idea is rejected.

Deflated, you sit down on the kitchen floor in a pile of sadness.

After feeling bad for yourself for a few minutes you finally pull yourself off the floor and saunter over to the fridge.

You still need to find something to eat for breakfast.

You scan the contents of your fridge and see three choices: chickpea salad, bacon & eggs, and leftover triple chocolate fudge cake.

What do you have for breakfast?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy 🧠, we’ll explore the Affect Heuristic —why we make decisions based on our emotions.

Let’s get into it.

The Psychology of Affect Heuristic 🧠

Have you ever noticed you’re more likely to make impulsive decisions when you’re emotionally charged compared to when you’re calm and rational? You’re not alone.

Social scientist, Robert B. Zajonc, first proposed emotions alter perception in 1980. Twenty years later, Paul Slovic published a paper, the ‘Affect Heuristic’ which documented the impact our emotions have on decision-making.

In a nutshell? People make decisions based on how they feel.

Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95% of buying decisions are based on emotion. Sort of wild right?

Affect Heuristic may explain why people buy red convertibles during a mid-life crisis and why others eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

Buyers make decisions based on emotions.

Behavioral scientists discovered emotions ‘carry over’ from one situation to another. That’s why you must understand your buyer’s ‘emotional landscape’ (we just made that up) when crafting your offer.

A somewhat impossible task? Maybe. But you can design your offers and buyer’s journey based on the emotions you want people to feel.

When people feel the right emotion… they’re more likely to spend.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?


Use negative emotions to shock the audience

Disgust is typically a marketing tactic most companies steer clear of. But, if you get it right, repulsing buyers can drive sales.

In its first full year of business, Jolie hit $4M in revenue.

One smart thing they did was collect email addresses with their ‘free water report’.

Jolie showed potential buyers all the yucky stuff hiding in their local water supply. Prospects went from curious about their water to disgusted. And Jolie bagged the sale.



Stir up nostalgia with old classics

Nothing hits like a cup of nostalgia.

Whether it’s a song that reminds you of high school, that perfume from your past, or that film that you watched on repeat as a kid.

UberEats knocked it out of the park with this throwback to the box-office smash hit Harry Potter. Even if you’re not a die-hard Potter-Head, you probably can remember a time when the world was raving about the boy who lived.

And that’s all UberEats needs to stir up the emotion inside.

Retail & Hospitality

Use storytelling to make people feel something

The smartest brands know that emotion triggers purchases.

How do you evoke emotion? You tell stories. Stories about what your brand represents.

Airbnb nails it with its ‘Let’s Keep Travelling Forward’ ad campaign.

The ad pulls viewers in by asking them to ‘imagine a world without travel’. And all of a sudden, we’re looking at things from a whole new angle. We’re starting to appreciate how much travel has impacted our lives. And we’re having all the feels.

This ad gets bonus points for using authority bias in the film.

Service Businesses

Design ‘strange’ services that cater to emotional states

Businesses that understand their customers and how they feel can get a competitive edge.

For instance, many people go to the salon because they’re feeling burnt out. They don’t want to spend their “me time” making idle chitchat with their stylist, but no one wants to be rude either.

That’s why one very smart salon launched “the quiet chair”. Requesting the quiet chair entitles clients to a haircut in silence. It seemed strange at first but it quickly became a salon trend.

Embrace delegation

The Short of It 💥

Buyers make purchasing decisions based on emotions.

And those emotions can spill over from situation to situation. So if you wanna sell more stuff, make sure you keep emotion front-of-mind.

Until next time, happy selling.

🐦 Your Brainy Tweetable

Marketing tip: think emotion.

According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchase decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind.

Forget logic. Focus on feelings.

Tweet this now >



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

When you’re ready, there are a few ways we can help:

Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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