The role of emotion in consumer decision

The Role of Emotion in Consumer Decision Making

By John Cassidy-Rice

The Silent Symphony of Emotion in Commerce

Ever walked into a shop for ‘just a look’ and exited with more than you intended to buy?

The world of commerce is intricately woven with our emotions, and every sensory stimulus plays its part.

Let’s unravel this symphony.

The Multisensory Landscape of Shopping

Beyond just visual aesthetics, modern shopping experiences are a melange of sights, sounds, scents, and textures. These multisensory stimuli have a profound impact on our emotions. Consequently, our purchase decisions.

“The alignment of visual, auditory, and olfactory elements in a store environment can create a harmonious experience, amplifying positive emotions and intentions.”^(1)

Emotions – The Invisible Strings

The research in “If it tastes, smells, sounds, and feels like indulgence…” delves deep into how sensory experiences evoke specific emotions. For instance, the warmth of a café, coupled with the aroma of fresh coffee, can induce feelings of comfort and nostalgia, making a visitor more likely to indulge^(2).

Case in Point: The Starbucks Experience

Starbucks isn’t just about coffee; it’s an experience. From the signature scent of freshly brewed coffee to the ambient music and store layout, every element is meticulously designed.

The goal? To evoke emotions of comfort, community, and indulgence. It’s no wonder customers often stay longer, purchase more, and even work or socialise in their spaces.

“Multisensory stimuli significantly influence consumer behaviour. The interplay of auditory, visual, and olfactory stimuli can enhance or diminish consumers’ emotional responses.”^(1)

Navigating the Emotional Minefield

Understanding and leveraging emotions is a powerful tool, but it’s not without challenges.

Challenges and Solutions

  1. Overstimulation: Too many stimuli can overwhelm consumers.Solution: Strive for balance. A soft background track is inviting; a loud one is jarring.
  2. Generic Experiences: Relying on broad stereotypes can miss the mark.Solution: Personalise based on in-depth market research. What works in one region or demographic may not resonate with another.
  3. Authenticity: Consumers are adept at sensing when brands are disingenuous.Solution: Ensure that the emotional environment aligns with the brand’s core values and promises.

“Authenticity is key. Consumers are not just buying a product; they are buying an experience, a story.” ^ (2)

Emotions: The Last Frontier in Marketing

As commerce evolves, tapping into the emotional psyche of consumers will be paramount. Those who master this art will not only foster brand loyalty but also create memorable experiences that consumers eagerly return to.

Applying Insights to Your Business

Every sensory detail, every emotional tug, plays a role in a consumer’s journey.

As you reflect on the interplay of emotions and multisensory stimuli, consider: How can these insights be woven into your business narrative? How might your brand environment, both online and offline, evolve to create richer, more resonant experiences?

We’ve unveiled the silent symphony of emotion in commerce. Now, the stage is yours to craft a masterpiece that speaks to the heartbeats of your consumers.

^(1) “Emotional Responses to Multisensory Environmental Stimuli”,SAGE Open,
Eliane Schreuder, Jan van Erp, Alexander Toet, and Victor L. Kallen

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