Marketing professors Kelly Herd of the University of Connecticut and Ravi Mehta of the University of Illinois recently conducted experiments that proved the importance of emotional connection to the effectiveness of creative marketing ideas.
According to Professor Herd, the study can be linked to a 2016 report published in the Business News Daily, which found 82% of company executives sharing the belief that there is a strong connection between business results and creativity. The view relates to the current marketing strategy of sourcing new ideas directly from consumers; by asking suggestions about products or services that they want the company to introduce as new product line.
Professor Herd cited how companies like Starbucks, Frito-Lay, LEGO and even the U.S. Army, base their innovation, as well as their research and development mostly on consumer recommendations. The view is that in a highly competitive marketplace, innovation and new products based on consumer recommendations, will enable manufacturers to survive and endure the competition.
Yet mental imagery depicting consumer emotion, used creatively in marketing new products is also of utmost importance. Through their research, marketing professors Kelly Herd and Ravi Mehta, provided new evidence demonstrating the importance of creativity influenced by mental imagery and its ability to affect consumer emotion. They then presented the results in a report entitled “Head vs. Heart: the Effect of Objective versus Feelings-Based Mental Imagery on New Product Creativity,” .
How the Study was Conducted
The objective of the experiments conducted was to show, how giving value to an end-user’s feeling can be a powerful tool in developing designs for new products deemed as solutions to problems found in the marketplace.
The research was founded on the premise that initially focusing on emotions or feelings based on the point of view of consumers creates cognitive flexibility among the designers. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to simultaneously consider matters in different perspectives. In having such an ability, product designers can “shift avenues of thought” when perceiving and processing information toward creativity.
Separate experiments were conducted in which participants were asked to design a kid’s toy, to select ingredients for a new cereal for children and to reinvent a grocery cart for the benefit of the elderly. Half of the groups of participants were instructed to imagine their respective target consumer’s feelings and emotions before starting out with the task. The other half was simply tasked to perform the assignment objectively, without considering consumer emotions or feelings.
Judges regarded as experts in the subject product, were simply asked to identify the most creative design based on their own expertise and knowledge of the subject. They had no knowledge of the objective and the emotion-based approaches that specific groups received as instructions. As the judging results demonstrated, creative product designs that took into consideration consumer-emotions, proved the importance of using product imagery created by way of cognitive flexibility.