Beyond Return on Investment
Return on Investment (ROI) has long since served as one of the primary metrics to calculate business success. Whilst there is no denying the value of the KPI, recent innovations from the neurosciences to social media have expanded the definition of profitability to encompass more than just sales figures or profit margins. It is in this context that firms looking to create sustainable customer relationships must increasingly consider developments in the field of psychology and focus on the emotional needs of consumers.
Human emotion and motivation are intangible and extremely complex notions. Although businesses are increasingly embracing the value of emotion, this is typically limited to marketing activities promoting their products or services. Even when conducting research, few businesses seek to dig beneath the surface in order to understand customers’ emotional reactions that lay hidden within their responses. This is where qualitative research is especially useful, in trying to help brands understand the intangible and often irrational thought processes and feelings of consumers.
In his book “Empathetic Marketing- How to Satisfy the Six Core Emotional Needs of Your Customers”, Mark Ingwer explores different aspects that can help businesses gain faithful customers. Broadly speaking, these relate to control, self-expression, growth, recognition, belonging and care.
Ingwer observed that consumers treat brands much like they treat relationships. As such, brands that are able to maintain trust and establish positive relationships with customers are subsequently rewarded with higher levels of loyalty. More specifically, the author noted that firms that are able to engage with customers along the six points, in a genuine manner, are likely to see a tangible return on empathy. In the long-run, this means that relationships with customers are more likely to withstand and even grow past changing trends to deliver lifetime customer value.
The integration of customers’ emotional needs represents a key way of building sustainable relationships in an age of diminishing customer loyalty. Firms that understand this are more likely to generate a notable ROE- return on empathy- in turn, gaining valuable, loyal and satisfied customers. Research, in particular qualitative research, can help brands build a deeper understanding of consumers and ultimately help engage with them on an emotional level.