The Importance of Quantifying 26 Consumer Emotions for Effective Brand Positioning

By Aaron Reid
October 6, 2014
In order for brand managers to effectively position their product in the marketplace, they must have a deep understanding of the specific consumer emotions they’re looking to target.
Watch as Dr. Aaron Reid, Chief Behavioral Scientist at Sentient Decision Science, illustrates how recent advances in implicit research technology can quantify 26 distinct emotions to provide deep insights into the drivers of consumer behavior.
>>Dr. Reid: Implicit association solutions, on the other hand, offer the opposite of these. We can measure, in our case, up to 26 discrete emotions. We’re going to show you how to do that today.
They’re cost effective, they’re fast, they’re mobile, they’re globally scalable, you have representative samples, you can integrate them with all of your other great conscious measures: choice-based conjoint, max diff, all your NPS scores, those kinds of measures. They’re integrated seamlessly. So it has different kinds of strengths than neuro and bio measures.
So when we think about discrete emotions, I think it’s important to talk about what those different emotions can be. When you typically think of emotional response, a lot of people talk about valence, which is positive to negative or negative to positive, and arousal. And you can characterize emotion along those two continuums. You have positive to the right, negative to the left; low arousal on the bottom, high arousal on the top.
But as marketers, we need more information about the discrete or distinct emotion that our brands, our products, our packaging are evoking; rather than just overall positive/negative or high-arousal/low-arousal, we want to understand the nature of the emotion.
So I’ll give you a few examples. Upper left hand corner: an emotion that might fall into that quadrant could be shame. That’s a high-arousal emotion and it’s negative in valence. But it’s very different, in nature, than anxiety.
So if your brand or your marketing communications are trying to alleviate anxiety, you’re going to message in a very different way than if you’re trying to alleviate shame. So understanding the discrete emotion that consumers are feeling gives you an advantage from a messaging perspective.
We’ll do the upper right hand corner: pride, for example, is a high-arousal, positive emotion. But it’s different in nature than happiness. If the benefits of your product are trying to evoke pride, you’re going to emphasize those in a different way than if you’re trying to evoke a sense of happiness or associate that with your brand.
Same is true in the lower-right hand quadrant. That might be relief. It’s positive in valence, low in arousal, but it’s different in nature than a steady state of calm. Relief is literally a lifting of the shoulders. It’s the opposite of anxiety.
Can anybody think of a product or brand that might be in the business of providing relief?
AUDIENCE: “Pharma.”
Dr. Reid: Pharma. That’s a great example; very literally, and figuratively.
AUDIENCE: “Laxative.”
Dr. Reid: A laxative? Another great example. Insurance, for example.
You get a sense, those brands, those categories, and brands within those categories need to evoke a specific emotion in their target audience to be effective. And that’s different than producing a steady state of calm, where everything is right in the world.
Lower-left hand quadrant: negative in valence, low in arousal. This might be an example of sadness or dejection. It’s very different, in nature, than boredom. Also low in arousal and negative in valence.
So if all I have are approach or avoidance, or arousal and valence, I don’t really have as much information as I need to effectively position my brand product in the marketplace.
Bio and neural measures will give you arousal, and if you couple them with other measures, valence, frontal asymmetries can give you valence, but implicit association measures can give you all of these discrete emotions.

26 Consumer Emotions

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Aaron Reid


Founder & CEO, Sentient Decision Science, Inc.



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