Emotional reaction vs emotional transaction: why measuring emotion needs to go beyond simple understanding

November 23, 2016

There is vast difference between an emotional reaction and emotional transaction from consumers. Only an emotional transaction understanding uncovers the subsequent behaviour and outcome of consumers. Here, Research Director Crispin Boon explains why understanding emotional transactions are so important and how measuring these outcomes are easier than ever before with Emotional Positioning System™.

Emotion is becoming increasingly important to brands.

Our experience tells us that emotion has a big part to play in customer loyalty. It means that understanding the emotional reaction of customers is becoming fundamentally important to the success of brands.

But consumers often do not or can’t say what they mean – and it’s giving rise to new forms of market research focused on measuring emotional reactions.

Emotional reaction vs emotional transaction – what’s the difference?

Emotional reaction research gauges how a customer feels at any one time before, during or after an experience – and when coupled with big data and analytics, can begin to piece together why consumers act the way they do. But it’s only a starting point and involves a degree of subjective reasoning to find the story behind the results.

Instead, Emotional transaction research accurately measures ‘the why’ behind behaviours and purchase decisions – it goes beyond just understanding a reaction and uncovers the meaning of that reaction using Emotional Positioning System™ methodology.

It understands why consumers do what they do and arms brands with the insight and results to effectively influence further behaviours and drive a positive experience – with three separate outputs; emotional decision, emotional understanding and an emotional frame of reference.



Three clear outputs from Emotional Positioning System


Case study; the importance of understanding emotional transactions

For example, Emotional Positioning System™ was used as part of an in-depth study into the effectiveness of a particular advertisement for one of the world’s largest coffee brands. EPS™ – alongside two other supporting methodologies – reported that the ad was clever, engaging and evoked a positive emotional response.

But Emotional Positioning System™ also revealed that the advert would do nothing to help grow the brand and increase sales, despite being positively received.

All three approaches found there was a strong positive emotional understanding communicated via the advert. But what other methodologies failed to find was that the advert was doing nothing to change consumer’s expectation that instant coffee is nothing like a freshly ground cup from the local coffee shop. The overall emotional result from the EPS™ was disinterest – which explained the declining sales of the brand.

In summary, the coffee brand discovered ‘the why’ behind their declining sales by measuring both the emotional reaction and transaction – the subsequent meaning that is the sole driver behind particular behaviours – by using Emotional Positioning System™. To see an impact in sales, they would need to shift consumer’s frame of reference – their expectations about instant coffee.

Measuring the emotional transaction

Emotional Positioning System™ is the only methodology that allows brands to understand the emotional drivers behind behaviours and effectively target customers with the insight and results.

It is truly a world-first – it is the only digital visual semiotics tool that can effectively measure and quantify emotional transactions and uncover hidden meanings to brands, products and other stimuli on a mass scale. While other technology – such as facial recognition – can decipher reaction, this is the only emotional measurement technology that reveals the reasons behind those reactions.

Emotional Positioning System™ uncovers what customers expect emotionally and whether or not brands have met those expectations to reveal what they will do as a result. It taps into a customer’s emotions and allows them to express what they can’t or won’t say elsewhere.

Emotional Positioning System™ in action

We recently used our Emotional Positioning System™ tool to uncover the emotional connection consumers have with supermarkets – and in particular, the sector’s biggest retailers, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Emotional Positioning System™ provides insight into consumer’s emotional frame of reference, emotional understanding and emotional decision making and provides a complete view of emotional states and the behaviour they are driving.

Rationally – and fundamentally –Sainsbury’s and Tesco have a similar position on the same on the market spectrum. But if both brands are so similar, then why do so many consumers choose to shop at one or the other?

Emotional Positioning System™ identified the hidden differences between each brand and how consumer’s purchasing behaviour is affected by their non-conscious, emotional reaction.