Emotional Marketing: Why Puppies and Babies Sell

Puppies & babies over rule logic in emotional marketing


Want to sell more products? Use puppies and babies!

Think I’m kidding? Yes and no. The joke that puppies and babies will sell more products has been around for a while, but it taps into the idea of emotional marketing.

What is emotional marketing?

Emotional marketing takes advantage of the idea that consumers make purchasing decisions based on emotion rather than logic. To a certain degree this deals with impulse buying, but even planned purchases can be swayed by emotions.

Here are a few examples of emotional purchases you may have made yourself:

    • Toothpaste, laundry detergent, soap: if you’re purchasing the same brands that Mom did, you are purchasing emotionally.
    • If two products are similar, but one is $1 more and donates to breast cancer research, do you purchase the one associated with the cause? If so you are again purchasing emotionally as it makes you feel good about yourself to support a charity.
    • How many times have you known you needed to purchase something – be it dinner, dog food, a toy for your nephew, and your purchase was swayed by an ad? Or you picked a certain product off the shelf because the packaging appealed to you? This is emotional marketing in action.

How do I utilize emotional marketing in my digital presence?

We’ve been talking about puppies and babies which appeals to the sappy, loving, THAT’S SO CUTE! side of emotions. But we all know we experience more emotions than love:

    • Greed – we want THAT, whatever that is. Maybe it’s more money, maybe it’s the latest fashion.
    • Envy – we want to BE like that. Perhaps wear what a celebrity or athlete is wearing.
    • Pride – we want to feel like we’re the best, so if we can buy something that will make us smarter, cooler, better looking or more successful that’s a win.
    • Altruism – we want to feel good about ourselves. If our purchase make us feel like we did a good deed, it’s a bonus.
    • Fear – we fear lots of things, most of all being left out of the next best thing.

There are endless ways to appeal to consumer emotions, so if puppies on your website doesn’t fit with your professional image, figure out what emotion you can tap into.

Powerade with LeBron James and Derrick Rose:

Powerade - Emotional Marketing with LeBron James


Don’t think this is emotional? It’s actually hitting you on a number of levels:

    • Envy: Anything with a celebrity is meant to inspire a degree of envy. But they are allowing you the chance to at fulfillment: if you drink Powerade, you’ll be doing the same thing as LeBron.
    • Pride: They are also empowering you. Drink Powerade and you will be like these amazing athletes.

Don’t have a million bucks for a celebrity endorsement? No problem, try tapping into:

    • Dreams: have a baby, buy a home, go on an exotic vacation
    • Military support or veteran programs have a lot of good will. If your company can connect to the country’s pride in the military, if only through holidays like Veterans Day, you can leverage emotional marketing.
    • Style icons: have products that will let your customers be the next Jackie O?  Give examples of what your products can do and how they make your customers feel special.
    • Nostalgia: does your company have products that bring people back to a different era? Leverage images and ideas that people can connect with.

I’d love to hear how you’ve gotten emotional with your clients. Please feel free to share in the comments.


Nicole Krug is a marketing strategy consultant specializing in digital brand management, social media, web development and email marketing. Since founding Social Light in 2009, she has helped clients hone their digital marketing strategies to bring more exposure to their brands and boost their bottom lines.

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