The era of emotional marketing: Schmitt’s theory

“An artist is someone who uses bravery, intuition, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally (all of it: the product, the process that created it, the reactions of the people with whom he is trying to connect).”
Seth Godin

Emotional marketing is ever more on the offensive in today’s commercial landscape; thus, being a manager and, at the same time, becoming a professional artist is the new requirement in today’s commercial reality. Marketing artists endeavour, through various means, to overhaul the traditional canons of communication between company and customer and focus on emotions as the real and tangible proof of the message’s truthfulness. Advertising becomes the pretext used to involve consumers emotionally; living the product’s experience means perceiving its concrete functionality.

Emotional marketing is a branding technique that was already known and widespread in “face to face” strategies: make up companies—and those selling home appliance or other goods—employ the figure of the promoter to sponsor the brand or product by adopting a direct and personal approach with the customer. Multisensory stimulation becomes the means through which the promoter promises consumers an experience and gains their confidence. This way, consumers have the chance to try out the product and purchase it with more awareness, concentrating more on the desire to own it thanks to the experience and to the emotions felt in the moment.

In his book “Experiential marketing: How to get customers to sense, feel, think, act and relate to your company and brands”, Professor Bernd H. Schmitt (1), of Columbia University, describes the difference that exists between traditional and experiential marketing: the former, underpinned by a more analytical ideological basis, focusses upon consumer spending power stemming from more or less satisfying product features and related benefits; the latter, on the other hand, considers customers as human beings who, in a wholly rational fashion, are hungry for a plausible emotional involvement.

‘’Experiences provide sensory, emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and relational values that replace functional values’’(2).

According to Schmitt, experiences need to be made holistic—i.e., we should not limit ourselves to sell a shampoo to wash hair—we should expand the concept; that is, think strategically about all the product’s functional declinations in daily situations and about how the product’s packaging, advert, scent, and characteristics could put consumers at ease, improve their experience and ensure their retention (3).

Strengthening ties with consumers means gaining their trust, retaining them, and becoming a conscious choice as a ‘product I would not swap for any other’.

An example of Feel Experience is provided by the Krumiri biscuits: the synaesthesia—i.e. the pairing of separate sensory spheres—stimulated by the product becomes its strong point; recognising the biscuit through all five senses guarantees its uniqueness.

A particularly emotional spot is that of Mc Donald’s, which centres its marketing campaign on strong and touching feelings, such as those of loss and grief experienced by a child who has lost his father and who is desperately looking for a likeness that will keep the tie alive; he is happy when he finds that the one thing he has in common with his father his is taste in food.

Unfortunately, we are looking at a case of emotional advertising that has gone beyond plausibility, pulling emotional strings too sensitive to be treated cynically in the context of a mere commercial promotion. For this reason, the spot was pulled.

Coca Cola also dispenses virtual experiences: its marketing campaigns convey emotions, happiness, memories of summer…

Myriam Caccavelli

If you liked this post, you might be interested in one of these masters: Marketing & Sales, Digital Marketing and Business Transformation or Marketing and Corporate Communication

1 Source:
2 Source:
3 Source:

© Rome Business School. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy - Cookie Policy
Request information