Emotional Capital

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How to survive an era of peak disloyalty? Maximise your Emotional Capital

MSQ’s executive director explains how the group’s proprietary research methodology helps brands earn and measure Emotional Capital so they can get closer to their customers

By Kate Howe

It feels like a game of whack-a-mole for brands. As Covid goes down inflation comes up. In December, it jumped to its highest level in 30 years, now sits at an estimated 5.7 per cent and is expected to rise again in the next quarter. As household incomes go down and prices rise it seems inevitable that consumers will exercise their right to choose more than ever. Many households unfortunately won’t have a choice but to do so.

At MSQ we’ve been looking intently at the issue of brand disloyalty. Now more than ever it’s a clear and present danger and will cause brands a headache at a time when brand marketing budgets that have only just been approved are being re-appraised.

But disloyalty doesn’t have to be an inevitability. So in an era where your customers are bombarded by between four and ten million messages a day, how do you get people to hear your brand, to love your brand, and be loyal to your brand?

By ensuring your brand has maxed out on Emotional Capital.

This is not more fluffy marketing waffle but instead a quantified approach to the drivers of deep emotional engagement with brands.

Brand emotions are a rich and ever changing cocktail. Feelings can vary by time, market and place. They can be strong enough to negate a hefty price disadvantage at the supermarket of choice. They can feed the gratification of an 18-month wait for an electric car. Importantly, they can allow a brand to make a mistake…yet come back stronger. And we can all think of brands that have made mistakes.

But the science of a brand’s emotional capital and the decision-making process behind it is something of a dark art - discussed but unmapped, a hunch not a science, a passion of the brand team and not the CFO, absent from the balance sheet.

That’s why at MSQ we’ve invested in a two-year long deep dive, pan-sector research programme to get under the skin of brands’ Emotional Capital. How valuable is the emotional stock that resides with a brand, what are its vulnerabilities and how can it be shored up for maximum resilience and responsiveness?

The end result is MSQ’s Emotor Index and brand development framework. The Emotor Index maps and quantifies the values that matter to people - real consumers in their own language. It ranks brands within and across markets, and provides a roadmap for joined-up engagement and behaviour strategies.

At the heart of Emotor are five powerful drivers of Emotional Capital, five key qualities that will help brands get closer to customers. We call them the CLOSE drivers. C for Coherent. L for Literate. O for On the Level. S for Self Aware. E for Ethical.

They’re the product of in-depth conversations with customers and brand -owners and have been road-tested across the UK, Ireland and China with further studies underway.

Using the Emotor Index analysis we can see precisely, by audience segment, what attracts them to your brand and what repels them. We can see how strong those forces are and understand specifically what actions we can take to improve, enhance or - where they are repellent - to negate them. And we can rank brands against their competitors to understand true brand strength in the marketplace and spot the weaknesses in others. What’s more, we can predict likely future brand performance based on these measures.

The Emotor Index helps to bring science to feelings to truly understand your customers’ values and expectations and to quantify potential. By understanding each of these five CLOSE drivers through a joined-up lens we can transform marketing from an interruption to a service that leaves people feeling truly good about a brand and inclined to be loyal, no matter how the economic environment is affecting them.

As marketers, data and technology are integral to modern marketing and can get us close to customers like never before – but we have to deeply understand the role of Emotional Capital in the mix. Now is precisely the time to move beyond digital transformation to the complete transformation of marketing. We’ve designed MSQ’s Joined-up operating model specifically to capture and mine data for true insight, use technology to turbo-charge the customer experience, and harness creativity to develop big ideas that turn heads. Joining these three up in a way that optimises your brand’s Emotional Capital is your best shot at surviving this imminent era of peak disloyalty.

Kate Howe is executive director of MSQ


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