How do you feel about your car brand? Loyal, irritated, safe, frustrated? Have you ever given it a second thought? And how do those feelings/emotions about the brand impact your decision making when you’re picking out a new car? Of course, certain brands evoke different emotions in their customers – but how actively, and how effectively, are car manufacturers managing the emotions associated with their brands? And how can a brand take advantage of these emotions (or manage them) to sell more cars? Let’s dive in.
First, we’ll take a look at two major brands that are successfully utilizing emotions: one that classically has strong share in the US, Toyota, and one that has been growing in recent years, Jeep.
To get a baseline for analysis, you need to look at each brand’s Martec Emotion Score, or MES. MES is a number that indicates the degree of pleasant versus unpleasant emotions that surround a brand. The higher the MES, the stronger the pleasant emotions. Using MES allows companies to translate consumer feelings into a quantified value, to see how they stack up against competition or to integrate emotional data with other loyalty and key performance metrics. It also helps differentiate between – and measure – intensities of emotions, providing context for the reasoning behind rational consumer behavior, such as likelihood to purchase, recommend, etc.
Both of the brands we’re looking at do well in terms of MES, with Toyota having an MES of 77, and Jeep an MES of 76. With an MES only 1 point apart, the two brands both elicit strong pleasant feelings in their customers. An interesting find, but we still need more context to fully understand the implications here. We need to go deeper.
Looking beyond the surface level of pleasant vs. unpleasant, you can see a breakdown of the emotion categories that fall under pleasant emotions. Emotion categories give a more detailed picture of the specific types of emotions that are present and knowing the specific types of emotions each brand’s customers are feeling allows us to understand their unique emotional profiles. This is key to unlocking a more personalized approach to messaging and advertisements, enabling you to connect with customers at an emotional level so the message really “hits home.”
That said, let’s look at the emotion categories present for our two brands. Toyota customers most strongly feel Serenity – an inward (about me), passive emotion – like wanting to sit back and enjoy a sunset at the beach. Toyota customers’ feelings of serenity are driven by feelings of security (safe, secure) and worth (good, smart, trustworthy).
Jeep customers also show a strong sense of Serenity, but Jeep scores higher in Joy than Toyota. Joy is obviously pleasant as well, but it’s an inward, active emotion – like wanting to dive in the water and body surf at the beach. The Jeep customers’ feelings of Joy come from feelings of happiness (happy, fun) and confidence (strong, adventurous, powerful).
Analyzing what the implications of these characteristics are gives a much more complete picture of the customer than simply stating that the customer feels pleasant emotions toward Toyota or Jeep. This enables you to create buyer personas, informs the different stages of the customer journey, and results in better messaging and advertisements that forge stronger connections between you and your customer.
From these insights, we now understand that although both brands are well positioned emotionally, the key is how the brands are leveraging these specific emotions in ways that fit with their emotional profile. While Jeep consistently markets the fun and adventure of being a Jeep owner, Toyota’s campaigns emphasize the worth and security of buying Toyota.
This leaves us with a question for the rest of the auto brands: which emotions does your brand currently evoke and are they the emotions you want? We’ll explore other brands in our next blog and look at a few that could use a little emotional boost.