Love is in the air – and it’s a lucrative business. With a market valuation of $17.3 billion, Valentines Day is the apex of emotional consumer spending. 

The National Retail Federation reports consumers will spend an average of $133 on Valentines Day this year, and while purchase decisions aren’t as manic as Black Friday, they are highly emotional transactions.  Tiffany’s has a legacy of capturing this warm and fuzzy sentiment – coincidence it’s one of the biggest brands in the world?

No Rocket Science Here

It’s no surprise consumers are engaged by the notion of love. Its warm, euphoric, and commercially positive elements give people hope for greater happiness, fulfillment, admiration and solidarity toward the future (for example: life, work, and relationships). And so, they flock to “things” able to harness and project these values – whether experiences, products, or services. Over recent decades, economic consumption has shifted from needs to wants, objective to subjective, and functional to emotional. We now make purchase decisions based on how we feel, using emotion to make the purchase and logic to rationalize it. It’s an incredibly powerful influence.

This is why brands able to connect on emotional levels are the most successful. Consumers love love – but more so – they love to feel moved, captured, inspired, hopeful and enlightened.

On the contrary, emotional connection can backfire, apropos to Nationwide’s Superbowl commercial whose grim message enraged viewers coast to coast. That said a passionately angry customer is better than no customer: if they are mad, you’ve likely retained a sliver of loyalty, in which case, right those wrongs and beg forgiveness. Sound familiar?

The consumer-brand relationship is just that – a relationship – where consumers experience the brand physically, intellectually, or emotionally. In turn, this relationship develops emotional connections, such as love, hate, frustration, faith [loyalty], and envy. The deeper the emotional connection, the stronger the consumer-brand relationship. This is what’s referred to as brand loyalty, and this is how it works:

Brand Loyalty > Brand Ambassadors > Brand Awareness > Brand Equity Engagement + Demand = Sales

May seem audacious, but the claim that emotional branding drives results is true. Consumers “in love” with your brand are aligned with its values and lifestyle – and they want to talk about it. In turn these ambassadors cause twofold increase both in awareness and equity. Thus, when your brand becomes the talk of the town, consumers want it, and it sells. Emotional brand relationships translate directly to the bottom line – which begs the question – why doesn’t everyone do it?  

For most, the biggest challenge is reallocation of spend to “lesser proven” mediums, analytically speaking. It’s hard to draw tangible cause-effect between brand and sales, but just as it takes vulnerability in human relationships to succeed, brands need a little courage to invest in “soft skills” to build a solid foundation of trust with consumers. 

What About Status Quo?

As Interbrand (the world’s leading brand consultancy) explained, top-ranked and high-performing brands are those able to persuade, influence, and inspire. Brands able to face the future with bold ambition, courage, and vision are those who grasp their purpose, drive relevance to customers, and possess the confidence to stand out. 

This year we’ll see continued evolution in branding. As the bold continue investing in brand, authenticity, experience and engagement (read: shifting from status quo), so too will they reap the rewards. Already we’ve seen new entrants like Kit and Ace storm the market, generating extraordinary growth and take rates since inception. They’ve got attitude. They refuse to conform. They live and breath brand personality…and it shows. 

Regardless of your value proposition, there’s always room to add emotion in strengthening brand-consumer relationships. They want to be surprised, delighted, and made to feel special and unique. Roses may not be the best way to your consumer’s heart – but if you know them well enough, you’ll know what fits best.