Consumers buy things they don't need to achieve emotional comfort. It is the feeling of satisfaction, the gratification of having bought something desired, the happiness of purchasing something that perfectly expresses one's identity. It is the enjoyment of a beautiful home that provides safety and comfort to one's family and the challenge of being exposed to new ideas or learning new things. It is the fun of seeing the latest movie, playing the hit parade's top-selling song, or having the latest and greatest computer gadgets. It is exercising one's consuming will to buy and possess.
Consumers buy things they don't need to achieve emotional comfort.
The art of branding is all about building an emotional connection with the consumer. While some categories are perceived as not demanding an emotional response from the consumer, no matter how mundane or low involvement the product category, consumers usually are emotionally invested and connected with their favorite brands.
Remember the introduction of New Coke? It was so logical from a left-brain marketer's perspective, so carefully researched to find just the right combination of sweetness and tartness for today's taste. Yet cries of outrage from loyal consumers greeted New Coke. "How could you take away my Coke?" The brand belongs to the consumers, not the company, and they own it in a visceral, emotional way.
This level of emotional involvement is the envy of all consumer brand marketers. Any brand manager who invests in understanding the emotional links between his brand and the consumers—their needs, drives, desires, consuming fantasies, and passion—can achieve this level of emotional involvement for the brand. Few brands can span the breadth of a mass-market brand like Coke, but they can go equally as deep into their more narrow market segments by connecting with their customers on an emotional level and never letting them down.
Emotional satisfaction drives both men and women equally in discretionary spending. Consumers aged 25 to 54 are most influenced by emotional satisfaction in shopping. Consumers aged 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to claim that emotional satisfaction is of little or no importance when they shop. Blacks are more concerned with achieving emotional satisfaction through shopping, as compared with whites or Hispanics. Consumers living in large households of three or more individuals place a higher priority on emotional satisfaction as a reason to buy.
Connecting emotionally at the most important times in people's lives.
Hidden deep in the annual report of Brown-Forman, the wine and spirits company best known for its Jack Daniel's, Southern Comfort, and Korbel Champagne brands, is a marketing success story called Lenox. The flagship brand of Brown-Forman's consumer durables segment, Lenox, along with other segment brands, including Gorham, Dansk, and Kirk Steiff in tabletop, Lenox Collections direct marketing, and Hartmann Luggage, generated $30 million in operating income in 2002 on sales of $581 million.
What accounts for the strength of the Lenox giftware brand? For starters, Lenox enjoys nearly a 40 percent share of the fine dinnerware market, thus ensuring its position as the leader in the fine china business in the U.S. Further, Lenox's brand reputation has made it the dinnerware choice of the U.S. presidents. Stan Krangel, president of Lenox Inc. boasts: "Lenox has delivered no fewer than five official sets of White House china for five presidential administrations. The world's leaders dine on Lenox." Even more impressive, each and every citizen of this country participates in Lenox as one Lenox crystal bowl is given to each president as the official inaugural gift from the people of the United States.
The Lenox brand, however, extends far beyond market share dominance and official gifts of state. Krangel explains: "Lenox is a brand consumers think of to commemorate the important celebrations in life— weddings, anniversaries, family holidays, new baby, showers, parties and entertaining, as well as more personal celebrations. Lenox serves the consumer at all these emotionally laden times of life. Lenox is a brand that people trust as a gift. For the gift giver, Lenox instills confidence in one of our most practiced rituals. For the recipient, Lenox represents appreciation of how much he or she is valued by the gift giver. Giving Lenox and owning Lenox represents American quality at its best."
With the core brand value of Lenox being "Lenox Gifts That Celebrate Life," the company targets distinctive areas in consumers' lives for their products. "Lenox's core equities are divided into four primary categories: gifts, entertaining and mealtime, home décor, and collecting. Each of these areas is driven by one form or another of celebration—the key emotional ingredient in Lenox's brand identity," Krangel says. "In essence, each of our core equities [is a form] of gift giving. Entertaining is one of the greatest gifts we share with our friends and families. Home décor and collecting are expressions and practices of self-giving. Lenox is the brand of choice for consumers' most special occasions."
The emotional connection fostered between Lenox and the consumer becomes the springboard to consumer loyalty. Lenox dinnerware patterns are designed to offer continuity at the table, as well as other giftware and decorative options. Lenox communicates with its customers through in-store support and displays, a Gold Club loyalty program, the company's Internet Web sites, and consumer catalogs. The key message Lenox sends to the consumer, according to Krangel, is: "Lenox is here to help you celebrate again and again." What could be a better marketing strategy than to link up with consumers during all of their memorable life occasions?