Listen to the Feelings

03 October 2019

Emotions. We all have them. REM reminds us that ‘everybody cries’. Mozart famously said that he followed his own feelings over the praise and blame of others. So, whether you wear your heart on your sleeve, or bury your feelings deep, one thing’s for sure – for those of us concerned with loyalty programmes, understanding customer emotions is critical to maintaining a relationship with members. In fact, Cap Gemini suggest that emotion is the single biggest driver of loyalty engagement[i]. And this is part of a common mistake – to try and find one single thing that drives a member to be loyal to a product or service. Some say that loyalty is best identified by customer satisfaction[ii], others point to reward and redemption. What we do know, however, is that humans are complex beings. So why wouldn’t our loyalty to a brand be complicated, too? 

Loyalty is a type of emotional attachment[iii] which also includes rational factors. When we process emotions into feelings, context is involved, including rational factors such as price. A recent Forrester Report[iv] suggests that it’s specific emotions that we want to engender – integrity, honesty, trust and belonging. And, if you want to meaningfully activate these, you need to consider how you think about them and the techniques and tools you use to measure them.

For example, programmes that bombard members with messages about scarcity may not see a change at first, but a recent survey by Trinity McQueen suggests that strong emotional words such as ‘disgust’ and ‘contempt’ are associated with seeing this kind of prompt[v]. So rather than a getting a positive response driven by fear of missing out, brands are evoking negative emotions.

In the world of loyalty, we can’t live without considering member emotions, but remember that our members also want to make sensible choices that appeal to their rationality. The best way to achieve this is to collaborate with customers and have a two-way conversation that appeals to rational choices and also the emotions that we should be proud for our loyalty programmes to reflect. So, don’t worry – everybody hurts, sometime. In loyalty, remember to listen to the feelings as well as the context. 


Written by Lou King, Data & Analytics Consultant


[i] ‘Loyalty Deciphered: How emotions drive genuine engagement’, Cap Gemini, Dec 2017

[ii] Curran, J. M., Varki, S., & Rosen, D. E. (2010). Loyalty and its antecedents: are the relationships static? Journal of Relationship Marketing, 9(4), 179-199.

[iii] Colin Shaw, Beyond Philosophy

[iv] ‘Harness Marketing’s Most Powerful Tool: Emotion’, Jim Nial, Forrester, 2019