“We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.”

Antonia Damasio

Most of us are taught from an early age that good decisions are made with a cool head supported by sensible, logical thinking. 

Yet, have you ever experienced a moment where, despite a well-researched (and probably tedious) cross-comparison of product features, you ended up going with your instincts and choosing the options that felt right, over that which lined up on paper?

Or perhaps the cheapest option available created a sense of doubt in your mind that it would come with issues. Pay cheap, pay twice, right?

You may already have a few brands that you love and trust, and are happy to pay more for even without a meticulous analysis of their manufacturing process?

In these instances, you may have applied a ‘psychological’ solution to your selection process.

As we emerge out of lockdown, and begin to build the bridges back to normality, businesses must understand the psychological desires of their target market and build these into an offering that focuses on utility, benefits and price. 

As we’ve seen before, a recession affects minds before it affects purse strings and the Covid-19 crisis has impacted on how we ‘feel’ in an unprecedented way. 

Only 30% of consumers want to see brands offering discounts and promotions.

A survey of 35,000 consumers globally by Kantar Insights

During the lockdown period, despite a rise in financial concerns, retail therapy has been an important comfort for Brits. We may complain to our friends and family that the outside world resembles The Hunger Games, but when we have a package on the way, our message to couriers and drivers is, “May the odds be ever in your favour!”

According to a survey by YouGov in early May, over half (53%) of Britons have ordered a parcel delivered directly to their home for non-essential reasons, despite a large percentage also believing that this could increase the risk of delivery staff catching Covid-19.

By comparison, only 8% had ordered groceries to their home, despite 81% believing that Supermarket workers were a coin toss away from catching the virus. 

The psychological benefits from the thrill of a new item of clothing being delivered, even when we literally have nowhere to go, outweighed a more logical decision to secure finances during a looming economic crisis, or more simply the logical decision to channel your cash towards groceries and have them delivered to your home.

Blending the logical and psychological

When working with our clients on their Value Propositions, we blend a number of logical and psychological factors through three lenses called Jobs, Pains, and Gains.

By looking at customer motivations with a more complete perspective that includes their psychological drivers, we can build a proposition that creates a deep emotional connection to the more ancient and powerful part of the brain that drives desire.

Value Proposition Design – Alex Osterwalder

What jobs are your customers trying to achieve?

Now a ‘job’ does sound like a very practical, logical, and tangible thing. 

But let’s take for a moment the simple job of needing to tell the time. If telling the time was the customer’s raison d’être, they could achieve this by buying a £2 digital watch, or not buying a watch at all and just using their mobile phone. Something we do on average 52 times a day. 

Yet, the watch market is dominated by people wanting to gain social status by purchasing a watch that billboards imply will make us look like Leonardo DiCaprio. 

From a psychological perspective, it is vital to look at the social jobs customers are trying to achieve, along with the emotional jobs where they seek to ‘feel’ a certain way by choosing a product or service.

What psychological pains do your customers have that you can solve?

Pains describe anything that annoys your customers – before, during, and after trying to get a job done. They provide real opportunity to look at your service benefits as answers to these. 

Pains can come in many forms, from something simply not working as promised, to more emotional issues.

In general, customers are usually quite good at telling you how they feel right now, but not so reliable in explaining exactly why. So, it’s important to understand why an aspect of your service causes them to feel the way they feel. You may not be able to remove the problem, but you could deal better with the symptoms. 

A good example is the improvement in communication when taking delivery of a significant purchase (e.g. a new car, or even a washing machine). Previously, you might have been given delivery details comprising of just a date, with no more accurate timing than AM or PM.

This created issues, as it would normally mean having to take at least a half-day off work. However, this still creates tension, as without a specific time, you feel like a prisoner in your own home. You can’t pop out to buy milk or go in the shower just in case the delivery man shows up.

However, with more accurate information, such as a text to say “David will deliver your order between 10 and 11am” you know exactly when to put some clothes on to give David the impression you’ve been busy for hours—and, actually totally forgot that your impulse-bought set of Jamie Oliver chop sticks were even arriving today!

Creating ‘Emotional Gains’ for your customers.

Gains describe the outcomes and benefits your customers want. Gains include not only functional benefits, but also social gains and positive emotions that can add premium value in comparison to your competitors. 

Beats by Dre were, for a time, the most coveted and expensive headphones around. Their mission was brilliant: to bring the emotional value experienced when listening to music back, by enabling the user to hear the music as it was intended, rather than through those white, Apple earbuds that are always getting tangled up in your pocket with your keys. 

Photo by Parag Deshmukh from Pexels

Beats was sold to Apple for $3.2 billion. Their ultimate value was not based on how technically advanced the headphones were (many reviews panned the ultra-premium product), but on the associations that were created by their founder and Music producer Jimmy Iovine, who used his position to get music artists to wear the headphones in music videos. In addition to an ultra-cool promotional channel, the target market would also buy into the associations with the music artist as well as their mission statement.  

Photo (CC) Philip Nelson, www.PhilipNelson.org

By addressing the psychological and logical needs of your customers, you’ll have the foundation of a differentiated Value Proposition that you will not need to discount to attract sales. 

By studying your customers’ psychological motivations and building those into your value proposition, you will not only be able to differentiate yourself from the competition, but also avoid a race to the bottom. 

If you would like to discuss how you can build in psychological motivations into your customer considerations then feel free to contact us for an initial chat.