Measuring love: how brands can calculate consumer loyalty

By February 14, 2017Uncategorized

Love is in the air! Or – as we like to call it at Scorch – positive emotional engagement with consumers (for a creative agency, we’re a results-focused bunch).

Most people think true love is immeasurable, but if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So if we want people to fall in love with our brands, we’d better find a way of quantifying that crazy little thing. After all, without being measurable, it’ll be forever an aspiration, not a strategic brand goal.

Here at Scorch London, we believe love – at least where it applies to brands – can be measured, quantified, analysed, and used to drive useful strategic advantage.

So, with apologies for putting annoyingly catchy power ballads in your ear, let’s look at how the power of love can give consumers a rush for your brands.

Caveat: the Scorch blogging team probably isn’t going to solve a challenge witch doctors, dating coaches, and snake oil salesmen have been working on for thousands of years, but we can give you a few useful tips on brand engagement (and provide you with some mild entertainment along the way). So we turned Scorch London’s love gurus on to the nuances of the luuurvve process, and came up with some ideas for fostering consumer-brand love.

The key: love is an emotion. Like any other emotion, it has a basis in biology (feelings are the thoughts of the body). It may not sound like the stuff of candlelight and sunsets, but love is ultimately just chemicals sloshing around in our brains. So if we can understand what happens in the brain when people fall in love, it’ll help us understand how to make people fall in love with our brands.

So how can we light up consumers’ brains with those love chemicals, short of wiring them up to a drip and mainlining the stuff? Here are our findings – with some examples from the FMCG and automotive sectors of how emotive content led to brand love.

The science bit

In neurobiological terms, love is a trio of chemical processes. The pointy bit: if our advertising can stimulate these three chemical processes in the right order, we’ve reached what American teens call “third base”. What are those processes? Let’s label them L, U, and V.

Stage L, lust

Chemically speaking, love begins with the steroidal hormones testosterone and oestrogen (in both men and women). They’re produced in that first rush of desire, that first glance across a crowded room. It’s part of your S1 thinking mode (instinct and evolution) rather than your S2 (logic and reason) one.

So if we want consumers to fall in love with our brands, the first step is to craft advertising that raises their levels of testosterone and oestrogen, by appealing to base instincts.

An insight: exercise, like doing sports, raises both (but so does thinking about exercise). Monitor the brains of men watching Bruce Lee movies, and they experience raised testosterone levels. So that’s Ingredient L of our LUV potion: get consumers thinking about vigorous activity (no, not just that one).

Emotive content example: Pepsi Max’s Volley 360

When Pepsi Max needed an ad agency to lead the way on an interactive brand experience that celebrated PepsiCo’s partnership with UEFA, Scorch London came up with Volley 360. A game created in a custom 70ft arena with one rule: a ball in the goal only counts if you made a volley kick, much more exciting that football itself (we think so, anyway).

That was the idea. The execution was more complex: a custom-built 112-camera surround rig and six high-power football cannons! But as athletes leapt, bound, and backflipped their way onto the leaderboard, it was captured in full immersive 3D – enabling a brand film that brought the audience into the action in a way no single camera could have done.

The added excitement of the 360 concept drove higher engagement and involvement – in fact, the highest Total Engagement Score Pepsi Max had ever seen. So that’s our first stage: foster physical exhilaration.

Physical exhilaration: how to research it

Is your marketing getting this stage right? Try a quick test in your next focus group: ask participants to score your work 1-10 on how physically excited they felt by the advertising campaign. If you’re getting lots of 7’s and above, you’re on the long and winding road to brand love.

Stage U, attraction

Once the initial heart-thump has raised your audience’s testosterone and oestrogen levels, the second stage in the process is all about U – where deepening attraction follows on from initial lust. Three chemicals dominate here: adrenalin, dopamine, andserotonin. They work together to make us seek out our loved one again and again over time – in other words, building the brand relationship!

It’s adrenalin that makes your heart beat and your mouth dry when you encounter the object of your desires, while dopamine sets up a desire/reward dynamic – giving you that intense rush of pleasure on each meeting. Serotonin, meanwhile, acts as the puppet master, by making you think about your lover all the time when he/she isn’t around, constantly seeking that next encounter.

Research shows elevated dopamine levels in couples who’d known each other about six months – when they’d known each other for a while but hadn’t formed long-term commitments yet. To drive up dopamine levels – and form the base layer of your long-term relationship with the consumer – your second-stage emotive content must give consumers a series of reasons to get together with you again and again.

Emotive content example: Citroen’s Perfect Day

Scorch took an interesting campaign extension for carmaker Citroen: after the excitement of its “Perfect Day” films (one featuring a skydiving scene) it invited viewers to spend some quality time with the car – a 24-hour test drive.

Imagine having a new car for a whole day: you’d drive it again and again, to different places, building your relationship over time. We didn’t test respondents for dopamine levels – but if we had, we’re pretty sure they’d be elevated.

(Another example is innovative cooking spray Frylight. Scorch’s TVC was all about families and couples eating together, meal after meal – illustrating bonds that persist beyond the first rush of love. In testing, it gained excellent recall among other food brands.)

That togetherness feeling: how to research it

Ask your research panel how close they felt to the brand a few months in. If you had high scores on stage L but lower ones here, your brand’s in need of a dopamine rush. Look at your customer journey and see what opportunities there are for engaging consumers with content at multiple times.

Stage V, attachment

The endgame of love is getting to the V. The last two ingredients in our chemical romance are oxytocin and vasopressin, found in couples who’ve been an item for some time (Tindr isn’t a big source of these, obviously).

These hugs-and-bunnies hormones – the Smug Marrieds of biology – are associated with, well, association: forming long-term bonds and interdependency. They’re also released during a rather specific biological response; perhaps we should’ve called this the O stage rather than the V stage. But like initial excitement and deepening attraction, emotive content can get them sluicing into consumers at the right moment – by making people think about the culmination of togetherness.

How to research it

This one’s harder to research – but you’ll find the answer among your loyal customers (those who love you already). Try a survey to pinpoint why they’ve stayed with you so long. Are there some brand attributes that are less obvious, or a combination of benefits that act together to build relationships tighter than Simon Cowell’s trousers? What’s the one little moment that makes it all worthwhile, that one spasm of pleasure that confirms your entire relationship?

It might be the pleasing shape of your packaging, or the satisfying clunk of a car door. Look for it, and highlight it in your ongoing customer relationships, to keep reminding consumers why they want to be with you (many marketers forget it, but it’s very important to keep advertising to your existing consumers: they’re the ones who’ll be your most profitable sources of revenue if they stick around).

Why the best emotive content is visual

In our examples you’ll note the common factor: they’re all visual, and that’s the kicker for driving brand love. Scorch does the whole swathe of advertising stuff – from scriptwriting and storytelling to design and animation – but when it comes to driving extremes of emotion in the two or three seconds you have to catch someone’s attention, we’ve found that visual content works best.

Visual content offers the most high-touch, intuitive medium for tugging on your consumers’ heartstrings. It lets you reflect their feelings based on whatever makes them burn with desire. So take a look at your customer personas and work out what makes them to love you. Is it adventure, discovering the new? Is it assurance, that feeling of safety and security? Is it fun and laughter? Or the sense you’re completing them, making them whole?

There are plenty of research methods for finding out what creates that buzz – starting with Maslow’s famous pyramid – but fewer creative agencies able to help. And when it comes to execution, the key factor is that each response has to happen in order. That means more than a hero film or iconic image: it means a campaign, stretched over time and segmented across your audience to hit the right people at the right time.

Conclusion: you can’t hurry it

And that’s difficult if you’re only using mass-market channels like television. So here’s our recommendation: foster brand love as a journey not an event.

You might build initial lust in broadcast media – but then switch to personalised video on YouTube, for the consumers you’ve already excited. Further down the funnel, you might offer an email campaign at heightened emotional times like birthdays and anniversaries. In the endgame, you might offer continual one-to-one personalised offers to keep them engaged. There are countless methods – but the conclusion’s the same: you can’t do them out of sequence.

Gimme all your money, and all your hugs and kisses too

It might not sound romantic – but love’s not an easy game to play. Most important of all: the process has to happen in order. Fortunately, building consumer relationships over time based on emotive visual content is exactly what we do at Scorch London, and not just on Valentine’s Day.

So we’d love to set up a meeting with you, to see if initial attraction turns into a lasting relationship. And don’t worry – we won’t start singing (unless you ask us to). Don’t be shy to make the first move – get in touch with the Scorch London team today on +44 (0) 20 7287 1702 or