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Logic v emotion in decision making

The Impressionist painter, Pierre Auguste Renoir, famously said that "Art is about emotion; if art needs to be explained it is no longer art."

This got us thinking. We have heard so much about "following the science" during the lockdown. It surely makes sense. Science is the opposite of art. It uses facts to explain a situation. That makes us feel so much more comfortable. Or does it? One of the features that separates us human beings from other animals on the planet is our ability to feel, use and display emotions. It got us thinking as to whether emotions can sometimes be more important than science, at least in driving our actions.

Let's think about how we are influenced by art. Sometimes we hear a piece of music that makes the hairs stand up on the back of our neck, sometimes we read words that bring tears to our eyes, and sometimes we are stirred by waves of pleasure when we see a painting. We are hugely influenced and yet have not been subjected to a single measurement or scientific explanation. This doesn't mean to say that facts and figures are useless. Of course they play an important role. Science is a systematic methodology that enables us to build our knowledge and understanding of things. It leads to inventions. The science of physics, chemistry and biology has resulted in the electronic marvels that enable you to read this blog online and the medical breakthroughs that will soon immunise you against the coronavirus.

So what has all this to do with customer experience? It has everything to do with it. The products and services that we offer can be promoted with art and science. We can tell our customers that our product lasts longer, perform better, and are better value for money. For sure, these facts and pseudoscientific explanations will resonate. But, if we can connect with the emotions of our customers by identifying their deepest and most profound needs, we will have a better chance of achieving the sale and their long-term loyalty.

Emotions are a reaction to how we feel. And how we feel can be more important than what is logical. We can know everything there is to know about something and yet ignore it. Facts can be staring us in the face and yet we can take the opposite direction. The heart very often rules the head. We need to bear this in mind when communicating with our customers. Of course we need to make sure that our offer is scientifically sound. It should do what it says it will do, it should be widely available and at the right price. But crucially, we need to use every artistic device we can think of to reach our customers’ emotions. And if we have to use explanations for this, we will have missed the point.

1 Comment

Dec 15, 2020

A critical point that marketers really should take to heart. Too often they try to sell their offerings with lists concrete attributes on which their products/services excel. But often, when we employ a derived importance or other type of driver analysis we find that the most compelling messages are emotional. These may relate to the offering itself, like "from a company I trust" or "tried and true." Or they might correspond to the benefits the end-user derives from the experience, such as "made for people like me" or "makes me feel secure."

Just to pursue your arguments down another rabbit hole, it's worth considering the relationship between art and science. While science describes objective reality, and we often say that…

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