Data shows emotional connection increases consumer action

To thrive in today’s competitive landscape, it is essential that brands cultivate an emotional connection with their customers, according to a new YouGov online survey of 2,013 GB adults.

Commissioned by leading customer experience provider Webhelp, the study looks at what brands need to know about emotional connections with customers. Survey findings plus exclusive content from experts, sector leaders, academics and frontline employees can be found in this whitepaper, part of Webhelp’s Disruptor series tackling customer experience industry challenges.

The survey reveals some startling figures for the impact of emotional connection on customers. In fact, 54% of respondents who recall an emotional connection to one or more brands would pay slightly more for their products/ services, 63% would recommend a brand, and 66% would be more loyal to the brand because of an emotional connection with a brand.

Another standout amongst the findings is the degree to which brands that demonstrate human qualities and satisfy personal motivators appear better positioned to create emotional connections. On the flip side, brand popularity does not seem to have a significant impact on emotional connection, which may serve as a wake-up call to marketers and others who believe popularity is all-important.

In fact, popularity (7%) scored lowest amongst characteristics that consumers say connect them to brands – with more “human” qualities such as being honest and credible (40%) scoring highest. Between the highest and lowest are: understanding/meeting needs and having positive feelings/associations (both 27%), rewarding customer loyalty (25%), responding to individual needs and wants (22%), representation via marketing, communications and values (19%), giving personalised rewards (18%) and makes me feel important (8%).

David Turner, CEO for Webhelp UK, India and South Africa, said:

“These results establish the importance of humanity, responsivity and understanding in consumer/brand relationships. At Webhelp, we design and use technology to augment human performance – to help advisors have great conversations which build true connections. People really do buy more, remain loyal and recommend more if they are emotionally connected to a brand. And we see just how crucial customer experience is to forming these highly profitable emotional connections.”

Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer, Webhelp UK, India & South Africa, commented:

“The holy grail for all organisations today – increased spend, loyalty and recommendation – can be achieved when an emotional connection between brands and consumers exists and ‘human’ CX holds the key. If you don’t care deeply about and anticipate your customers’ wants and needs, then you can’t expect them to emotionally connect to your brand and buy and recommend your products and services.”

Top sources of emotional connection, most important human attributes and positive brand experience

Of those who had an emotional connection to a brand, the top five sources of emotional connections with brands are: overall customer experience (53%), easy to deal with (38%), values similar to mine (34%), quality of interactions (26%) and the brand is ‘human’ (22%). A brand being “human” was also considered important by over two thirds (67%) of respondents and a majority also said it increases the likelihood (net more likely) of taking positive actions towards the brand.

The most important human attributes for a brand are: being honest (23%), authentic (15%), friendly (11%) and highly responsive (9%).

Factors that determine positive brand experience are: responsive to me when I need it (36%), send me clear, understandable messages (34%), show they value my time and business (32%), communicate with me using my preferred contact method (32%), speak like a regular person (26%), show empathy (23%) and communicate with me at convenient times (21%).

Emotional connection by sector follows a similar pattern

Honesty and credibility remained the strongest attributes across all sectors with brand popularity still a low scorer – with some variance in “the way the brand represents itself through marketing, communication and values” for insurance, lifestyle and media.

Sectors that scored highly with consumers for emotional connections include grocery/supermarket (45%), clothing (41%), technology (33%) and beauty (26%). Banking (21%) and automotive ( 20%) performed better than travel (16%), lifestyle and telecoms (both 15%) and media (14%) which reported only modest levels of emotional connection. Utilities (9%) and insurance (4%) ranked lowest, perhaps a result of a myriad of price comparison sites and aggregators

Similarities and differences within age groups

Overall, 54% of consumers who feel an emotional connection to a brand would pay more for their products/services, 63% would recommend and 66% would be more loyal as a result of emotional connection.

While brand popularity is not a major factor for any age group when considering if they are emotionally connected to a brand, younger age groups (18-24) are more likely to consider all factors more important than the oldest age bracket (55+). And while all age groups have a similar pattern, including honesty and credibility scoring highest, there is a striking difference between the degree to which certain factors (e.g. “if the brand makes me feel important”, “the way the brand makes me feel” and “the way the brand represents itself through marketing, communication and values”) influence brand connection amongst the younger and older age groups. In each of these instances, the younger group gives these attributes far higher scores.

Additionally, 62% of 25-34 year olds are likely to make additional purchases from a brand if they feel emotionally connected, versus 47% of those 55 and over.

Survey Methodology

This survey has been conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov Plc UK panel of 1 million+ individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,013 GB adults.

Editor’s Notes

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,013 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st October – 1st November 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).