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Sam Langley-Swain, Strategy Director

We regularly get asked by our clients to consider the different customer types going into their stores, but another really important layer is to consider their emotional state.

We know that by 2020, there will be approximately 9.7 billion displays on Earth, serving up 5,000 ad views per day per urban person – a 25% increase since 2015 (Max Planck Institute, 2016). This will not only affect our ability to absorb this amount of information but at the same time, brands need to do what they can to sustain our emotional interest, to avoid a daily consumer overload!

The global emotion detection and recognition market is expected to grow from $5.66bn in 2015 to $22.65bn by 2020 (Globe Newswire, 2016), but in the meantime, brands are finding more instinctive ways to appeal to consumer emotions:

Human quirks in technology

Electronics and tech brands are increasingly relying on cute design to make emotional connections with consumers and to compete for shelf space. In the case of the Be My Mother range these design traits can also make mundane household tasks more enjoyable; with a robotic vacuum cleaner that “poos” when full; a toaster that “sneezes” when it has too many crumbs in the tray; and a bin that “hides” when it needs emptying.

Product packaging aligned to emotional human agendas

No stranger to social commentary and political messages, ice cream leader Ben & Jerry’s 12-month Democracy in Your Hands campaign, preceding the 2016 US presidential election, features ‘Empower Mint’ ice cream, emphasising the importance of the individual vote.

Ben Jerrys Empower Mint

Mood measuring apps that improve decision-making

Moodnotes is “an app that promotes emotional wellbeing by helping you understand and improve your thinking habits”. With a friendly and simple interface to avoid intimidation of use, the main aim is to enable consumers to avoid negative thought patterns using the app through an iPhone and/or Apple Watch.


Other initiatives

A couple more initiatives include US sports brand Under Armour’s Healthbox, a system originally designed for elite athletes, now appropriated for a mainstream audience with emotional motivation at its core and Albert Heijn’s partnership in The Netherlands with The Royaal Zorg Care Organisation to train its staff to spot signs of dementia, but also forgetfulness, loneliness or self-neglect in older customers, to guide them to healthcare volunteers in-store.

Our retail learnings

The innovations above confirm that emotion now plays a pivotal role in the way consumers react to products and services. We see more of the emotional components of design being overtly articulated whilst brands are adding emotion tracking to their retail practices to iterate and learn.

Combining consumer purchasing and demographic data with more subjective, emotionally driven preferences present the opportunity to engage at a really deep, personal level in-store. The emotional elements of retail design are also becoming more paramount in store propositions, including tactility, co-creation and community.

We have most definitely moved beyond matching demographic profiles to a store look and feel.