Cars are among the few non-impulse buys with a significant emotional component.
With electrification in full throttle across automobile groups' line-ups, the time is now to establish the emotional appeal of EVs that is distinctive of your brand. Now is the time to seize the wonder, amazement, excitement, and shared vision of a greener, quiet future that electrification promises.
And yet, from the consumers' viewpoint, there's a sense of uniformity among the 450-plus EVs on sale today. Consumers are instead weighing the value of EVs in terms of engineering specifications, features, and price more than emotional appeal.
Why, then, does technology outweigh emotional appeal?
As the advantage of electrification becomes less novel over time, the consumers' focus on technology, engineering, and features results from an evident lack of emotional associations with the brand and its line-up of branded EV products.
It's time to tackle the emotional aspects of EVs to gain a competitive advantage.
Consumers value emotional and subjective matters more than functional ones.
In our recent global research, consumers' topmost purchasing criteria for premium and luxury EVs were emotional ones. They were "fits my lifestyle," "fast-looking," "comfortable interior," "makes me feel attractive," "I feel cocooned," and "my own private reboot space."
These types of emotional expressions hinge on the distinct embodied values of the brand (including its products). It drives the emotional associations, giving rise to meanings and feelings that consumers can latch onto, superseding specs and features.
Let's look at how meanings and feelings come to be understood and felt.
The consensus in the industry is that strong emotional appeal leads to superior brand affinity and activates significant value delivery leading to higher sales and secure margins.
But in our experience, the problem that needs addressing is delivering a coherent and consistent story that consumers can rally behind.
The brain is a storytelling organ that constructs stories to make sense of the things we encounter - who's the protagonist? What is the story's meaning, and how do I feel about it? What challenges do they need to tackle? What change are they looking for?
Without finding a story, the brain focuses on measurable and comparable things, such as technical specifications.
Three pillars support consumers' meanings and feelings - specific brand attributes, unique product attributes, and universal human experiences.
Let's put it all together.
Meanings and feelings are the building blocks of emotional appeal. And that appeal, in turn, is based on the three pillars. Here are the steps to do it:
1. Brand and Branded Products Audit
Investigate your brand's vision, heritage, and activities to identify the core concepts and ideas that evoke meaning in the brand. Attention to detail is critical. Audit elements of your branded products and identify the factors that make the branded products distinct.
2. Universal Human Experiences
Define a compelling future vision of your brand and branded products based on universal human experiences expressed uniquely and creatively to make it your own. Avoid trends and focus on desirable human outcomes.
Take the finding from steps 1 and 2 (meanings) to define the storytelling (feelings) behind the EV category. Here, emotionally vibrant storytelling is crucial to resonate with consumers. Here's a hint on crafting beautiful storytelling: it's about the consumer. Not about you.
4. Uncover the truth
Conduct qualitative research to uncover consumers' meanings and feelings about your brand and branded EV products. Use this input to hone your meanings (steps 1 and 2) and feelings (step 3) to arrive at a more robust set of meanings and feelings based on real-world findings. Perform a quantitative study to validate the results.
5. Perception shift
Develop a strategic perception shift strategy to go from current beliefs, meanings, and feelings to the enhanced meanings and feelings arrived at in step 4.
It's important to emphasize here that to be genuinely evocative, the technical specifications and features of the EVs must be top-notch. The emotional appeal will evaporate without it.
Creating emotional value based on real-world evidence will not only ensure the meanings and feelsings will resonate with customers, but will enable EVs to rise above the tech spec comparison fracas. You'll be building enduring bonds and increased LTV instead.