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Monday, January 10, 2011

Emotional Design 2 - Unconscious Desire

When I finally was able to upgrade my mobile phone, the decision to buy an iPhone was very easy, in fact, I believe my unconscious mind made that decision for me long before it was time to enter the credit card number to close the sale on the shopping cart web page. The truth is that our unconscious mind has the majority of influence in purchasing decisions, and our poor conscious and rational mind is left to justify the decision so we can explain our actions rationally to our spouse and friends. So what is our mysterious unconscious mind considering when it makes decisions?

There are at least two key questions that must be resolved in the unconscious mind as it navigates the decision process. The first question, and perhaps the most important one is related to personal image, “does this help me be who I want to be?” All day, from the time we wake up to the time we fall asleep, we are managing the impression we make on others. When we see an ad, a new product, a new store, web page, etc., we are always relating that new thing to our personal image. We are seeking those things that can help us project the image we unconsciously seek to display. When something very strongly resolves the image we are seeking to project, we have a strong desire to own that object.

Emotion is at the core of the second question. We sum up all the emotions we associate with that thing. We ask ourselves; “how we would feel if we owned that product?” To answer this question we sum up the emotions we have stored in our memory associated with that product, the brand it is associated with, and other things we relate to it in some way. So if you have had bad emotional memories associated with a specific brand, it may be hard for you to consider any product from that brand, even if it closely connects to your image. If the product is associated with primal, reptilian emotions such as those affiliated with sex, the appeal can be very strong.

For products to perform at a high level in the market, the product and the overall experience associated with that product must resolve these unconscious considerations. Therefore every aspect of the offer must be in tune with the image the consumer is seeking to convey, and evoking the emotions the consumer wants to feel. Understanding how consumers perceive products and brands in their unconscious mind is not easy.

Highly skilled researchers, designers and creatives can leverage these unconscious needs in the development of products and brands. To do so, they use methods that get to the unconscious drivers, and convert them to attributes to be designed into the offer. Skilled creative resources can utilize this insight to develop concept proposals. These proposals can then be carefully evaluated by consumers in a way that determines if these unconscious needs are being met. Through refinement and optimization, the offer can be crafted to strongly resonate with the consumer’s conscious and unconscious mind.