Emotion and logic are two fundamental sides of the same coin that all sentient life possesses. We are well versed in both sides in daily human interactions, with both conversation and action being intrinsically created from both logical thought and emotional opinions every single time.
This is also true for interactions we have with businesses; it has been validated time and again in sales experiences that we buy with emotion and then justify that action through logic. And when brands manage connect with consumer emotions, then the “payoff can be huge”, so it has been encouraged for a while now that businesses should build impactful strategies with emotion and logic both at the heart. With the two concepts so intimately intertwined in each experience, why do we proceed to separate the two in market research?
In the insights industry, our methodologies, tools, tactics and ways of thinking have separated these fundamental factors into two clear distinctions, and researchers everywhere research the two unconnectedly. This can be seen in the very fibres of the fabric that makes up market research: it’s qualitative or quantitative, consumer behavior or opinion, system 1 or system 2 thinking, and the more we think in these dichotomies, the more we will see.
Both emotion and logic have their unique place in market research, with emotion being typically seen as the harder one to capture in insights, and logic being seen as the easiest but somewhat harder to trust. For researchers, separating these two concepts has always seemed natural for most research projects due to the nature of the tools we have created that cater towards one or the other – never both. Until now.
Why Should We Investigate Emotion and Logic Together?
Investigating both logic and emotion in one research project with tools and methodologies that have been built to research them separately them is a tricky task; it has become increasingly apparent separating these two fundamental aspects of human life in each stage of technological innovation has led to an industry built on inefficient processes and ways of thinking.
From the point of view of the stakeholder, consumers logically understand they need something, then tie in their emotions throughout the buying process. They have their go-to brands that they will check first, based on emotional instinct – it’s safe, familiar and they already know how they will feel going through the customer experience with them. When a brand is unfamiliar, this is where logic kicks in alongside the emotion. Subconsciously, they will want to replicate the customer experience they’re familiar with as close as possible, and so this will dictate the logical elimination of each new brand they come across through reviews, familial connections and opinions, as well as the other factors such as price, convenience and delivery speed.
Understanding the high-impact emotional motivators that drive consumer behavior can make or break a business on their own, but tying them into the logical reasons behind them only enhances the insights needed for stakeholders to make the best business decisions consistently across their organization – a target for many if not all business professionals across all industries. If we take some inspiration from Harvard Business Review’s New Science of Consumer Emotions article, they have a great table that shows us how businesses should be responding to certain emotions and desires, let’s take a look at a few quickly:
- Consumers want to stand out from the crowd, they want to be seen as special, so this is what businesses should make happen. Emotionally, being seen as special gives us a great exulted feeling, and logically, being seen as special will give us the attention we believe we deserve.
- Consumers want to have confidence in their future, a logical notion and confidence in the future will calm any stress that might occur in the present. So, we should generate a brand identity of positivity, as well as safety and reliability, and these customers will come to that brand for that security.
- Consumers want to enjoy a sense of well-being, similar to the confidence in the future goal, this one is more a wish for broad happiness in all aspects of their life. Businesses can contribute to that by providing easy customer experiences, eradicating pain points and developing products and services that directly help consumers achieve this goal.
But researching emotions is tricky, because insight experts are trying to understand something that consumers themselves might not recognize is a present influence. There are a lot of consumers who don’t fully understand their emotions, what they feel and why, and so trying to understand this from an external point of view seems to be nearly impossible. Equally, researching these emotions uncovers a wide variety of sensitive topics that should be handled with care, for instance, these consumers might be neurodivergent, or emotionally underdeveloped, or have trauma that is hindering them from feeling emotions as others would.
And so, this is where logic comes into play. Researching both logic and emotions in tangent can help insight experts approach topics such as these with a more agile approach. Where emotions fail, we can count on logic to step in and start to uncover the layers of emotion without harming or hindering any healing progression. Psychology is a great tool to draw on when faced with these types of conversations with consumers, we can use some techniques that psychologists use in order to unveil both logical and emotional truths in consumers.
Embracing Both for the Good of Insights
Embracing the two both separate and together has the potential to create better, more accurate and powerful insights that stakeholders will listen to more often – emotional connection both in research and to the brand being researched is crucial for insight teams and stakeholders to gain accurate insights to action.
So how do insight and business professionals achieve these actionable insights? One way is to map customer emotions and logic to see where they intersect and better understand how they bounce off each other in different scenarios. In this investigation, we will discover essential contextual influences and gain continuous feedback for trend tracking over a good period.
While the recent sentiment has been to focus on research into consumer emotion and behavior – mostly because we do not fully understand which emotions are at play when driving certain desirable behaviors and they’re very changeable – we should never forget about the importance of logic throughout the consumer decision-making process even after the transaction with the business is complete. It is what stops people from returning items and regretting interactions, it helps consumers justify their emotion-driven actions and keeps them coming back for more. Without logic, we would never be able to make sense of emotions, our own and those of customers.
So, while our instinct is still to separate the two, we’re on the right track, but bringing them together at the end to create truly informed insights is the best result we could give to stakeholders.
This is why understanding both the emotion and logic behind customer behaviors is crucial to the success of a brand whether they’re new, established or even rebranding. Insight experts are here to help stakeholders take tried and tested research methodologies and use them in such a way that explores the logic and understand key emotions driving crucial consumer decision-making processes, for example:
- Quantitative methods such as surveys are being adapted every day to include more qualitative answer options to gain more detail into previous answers.
- Qualitative methods such as focus groups are being twinned with quick polls to ensure customer engagement, but also gain quantitative data to further explore in real-time.
- Fast and slow research strategies are being combined to create one agile strategy that is capable of providing real-time, quick insights as well as well-thought-out and considered insights from longer-term studies.