Understanding Customer Needs: Feel Your Customers’ Emotions

  • What emotions do your consumers experience in the context in which your product or service is used?
  • Do their emotions change before, during and after an experience with your product or service?

 In order to build lasting relationships with your target audience, you first have to understand them. Learning how your consumer feels in the context of using your product or service goes a long way in making a meaningful connection with them.  You must then demonstrate you understand their needs through product / service design and your marketing communications to ensure their loyalty.  Ideally, you would want your customer to say after using your product that this brand/company understands me.

A complete understanding of the emotions experienced during your product’s usage will help you create superior products and effective communications for your target audience.

 For example, I conducted storytelling and metaphor elicitation research on the event of getting a cold.  The team uncovered a multitude of emotions and states of being that occur from the beginning until the end of a cold.  When someone gets a cold, they may experience denial, frustration, anger, despair, misery, a desire to be normal and, finally, relief upon a return to health.  This research helped us to identify comfort as an important need and state of being desired by cold sufferers.

We concluded that pampering and comfort were higher order benefits desired by someone who was sick and feeling miserable.  This insight led to identifying novel ways to make the product we were working on more comforting.  This understanding also resulted in top scoring concepts as the team focused on communicating comfort as the benefit to consumers instead of focusing merely on an improvement in a product attribute.

Parting Thoughts

  • Identify the negative states or emotions that the consumer wants relieved and the positive states or emotions they are seeking to attain.
  • Empathize and feel the emotions your target audience experiences in the situation where your product or service is used.  This will help you to better understand “where they are coming from.”
  • Honestly evaluate, does my product or service alleviate the negative emotions and/or deliver the desired emotional states?
  • Ask yourself, have I effectively communicated that I understand their needs and my product / service offering satisfies that better than any other available offering?