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Emotional IQ: Why Emotional Intelligence Drives the Evolution of Products (and Brands)


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I wish I had been born with a higher EQ.

Thanks to Daniel Goleman’s release of Emotional Intelligence in 1995 (when I was 25 and not particularly emotionally intelligent) our culture’s EQ, along with my own EQ, continue to evolve.  Perhaps mine has just been a tad slower, with more peaks and valleys.

In my role working with companies on strategy and research, I have seen how behaviors in meetings have changed from somewhat cold and stodgy interactions in the 1990s, to today’s more fluid conversations that are filled with humor and compassion.  In my opinion, today’s more humanized interactions lead to much more effective strategy development, planning, and basic decision making.

Emotional IQ and its evolution impact our purchase decisions, too. 

While the importance of emotion in purchase decision-making has been well understood since the dawn of advertising and the first Sears Roebuck catalog, the role of emotion in brand and product choice is more sophisticated today. 

Pulling on emotional heart strings of consumers requires greater depth of understanding of the customer experience and decision process. Our customers expect us to understand them more completely and have more emotional range. Emotions are not only part of the brand, they are part of the product design itself.

I’ll give you three examples.

Yellow Cab vs. Uber in San Francisco

  • The emotional need of not having the stress of waiting for a cab is taken one step further with Uber.  Uber makes users feel like they are in control of how quickly they will get to their destination.

Google Maps vs. Waze

  • Avoiding the fear of getting lost is addressed by Google maps, but this isn’t quite enough.  Waze has a loyal following and is more popular with many because it is user created, making it feel like you are getting personal directions and creates fun or joy rather than simply avoiding fear.  Google found this compelling enough to buy Waze.

Hilton vs. Airbnb

  • While Hilton has loyal customers, large reach and has successfully addressed the emotional need for comfort while traveling, Airbnb takes this one step further by giving you the comforts of home and personal connection.  And, with the reviews process, we also feel we are in control of the experience.

So, stretch your emotional muscles and understand the nuance in how your customers are using their emotions to make purchase decisions.

And, consider how you can give them control over the experience.

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