How to perfectly balance technology with emotions to connect with consumers

Our guest columnist says that technology is now a catalyst for bringing emotions to life.

Royal Enfield unleashes the traveler in us and Nike summons the much-needed adrenaline rush. We can now agree that Marketing 2.0 goes beyond selling a product and is more about creating a targeted connection with consumers.

As renowned American entrepreneur and author Seth Godin rightly said, “People don’t buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories and magic.

Today, we stand at the precipice of an era where technology has moved beyond its role as a means of analyzing and communicating emotions, to becoming a key catalyst for bringing those emotions/stories to life.

This transformational marketing can be attributed to the massive change in marketing technology. Channel-focused solutions, including websites, social and mobile platforms, content management tools and search engine optimization, are fast becoming yesterday’s news.

As part of the growing trend beyond marketing, organizations are adopting a new generation of mar-tech systems to deliver unprecedented levels of customer intimacy, targeted engagement, and precision impact.

A very relevant example that comes to mind is Shanghai, where Starbucks offered its customers to experience the coffee roaster through augmented reality (AR) through their app. The customer could simply point to key elements around the café, such as the barrel, which will display new information, and act as a tour guide. Customers could also explore the space and collect virtual badges. Once they’ve all ordered, they’re given a personalized roasting social media filter to share.

This just reiterates the shift that, by deploying new approaches to data collection and analysis, companies today are delivering much more personalized, end-to-end experiences for their customers. These experiences, in turn, help create deep emotional connections with products and brands, thereby building brand love and memory.

Bring the two together

Marrying technology and emotions, requires brands to have a constant pulse on consumers and their ever-changing preferences. A fitting example that celebrates the combination of this is an intriguing pop-up that eBay launched last year.

The e-commerce brand, alongside technology company Lightwave, installed booths equipped with bio-analytical technology and facial coding software. Guests were invited inside a booth and were asked to browse a selection of items from eBay’s ‘donation page’, while the technology would detect which items they liked and which towards which they felt most negatively. After leaving the booths, guests received a personalized emotion report to help them understand and choose the items they connected with the most.

Also in India, several startups are working proactively to gauge consumer sentiment by detecting facial expressions, eye movements, and even brainwave mapping.

Closer to home, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with #HowFarWillYouGoToMakeThemBlush, our campaign for Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk. To create sweet moments of love, we introduced real-time personalization via AR for our consumers. This allowed them to unlock TV spots, newspapers, billboards, and even open spaces at home to view personalized messages sent by loved ones in an immersive 360-degree virtual environment.

Even in other campaigns, including ‘Not Just A Cadbury Ad’ and ‘Perk Disclaimers’, the marriage between technology and emotion has remained seamless. This is what we at Mondelez call “empathy at scale”, in which we examine various patterns of consumer interaction through data signals, helping us arrive at the best strategy that will affect sustainably our consumers.

Although there is an accelerated adoption of technology by brands today, what is interesting to note is that it is not only used to create a sentimental connection, but also to create experiences more immersive. Beyond advertising, the use of technology has also driven a drastic growth in gamification, making it an extended arm of consumer experience within a brand’s virtual universe.

What was once just a simple collaboration between two brands is now transforming into brands creating exciting experiences for their customers in real time, creating microsites and landing pages for consumers to engage directly with the brand only on the content they want to consume.

Crystal gaze into the future

It goes without saying that in this ever-changing industry, technology will continue to be an invaluable asset for establishing a dialogue with the public as well as for building a solid relationship with the brand. However, it is important to note that brands have survived the tides of time through the thread of emotion.

All communication should have a central purpose, which can then translate into a myriad of emotions, exclusive to the platform or channel. The end goal is to create lasting moments of joy that can be enjoyed by the consumer, while clearly presenting the brand message.

As the COVID pandemic has allowed technology to play a bigger role in communication, it is only expected to grow further. Today, brands are already harnessing technology not only to evoke emotions, but also to create sensory experiences like smell through mental triggers.

Now that the world is also entering the kingdom through the metaverse, with shopping, entertainment and even weddings being a virtual experience, who knows, one day we might be able to taste our favorite chocolates or try on high-end clothes via one of the worms!

However, through it all, it will always be essential to have the perfect balance between emotions and technology, the secret ingredient to building lasting bonds.

The author is Media Manager at Mondelez India.

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