Jonah Lehrer, over at The Frontal Cortex, has another great post this week, “Reason, Emotion, and Consumption.” The primary focus of the post is a paper published in the Journal of Economic Research, “In Search of Homo Economicus.” This is cutting edge consumer science with huge dividends to be paid to those who learn its lessons.

The research, conducted by a number of behavioral economists (including Dan Ariely, a graduate of UNC and Duke, both within minutes of our office here in Durham), sought to understand the role cognitive and emotional drivers play in the consumer decision making process. Interestingly, when consumers used unconscious emotions, their decisions were more consistent than when they relied on cognition.

The key here is consistency of decisions made. Brand loyalty is built on consumers consistently choosing the same product. Understanding that emotion, and not cognition, will be the facilitator of loyalty, goes a long way in helping us foster consumer loyalty. We can’t always rely on consumers as rational agents; sometimes we have to appeal emotions that many consider irrational. We must continually strive to know as much about our audiences as possible. This must go beyond demographic and socioeconomic profiling, and focus on psychographics, emotions, behavior, etc. Though a product/offering/company may be superior on paper, it will find little fanfare if it does not adequately stir up the emotions of the consumer.