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Emotional Marketing- An Effective Strategy during COVID

COVID has brought about unprecedented changes in the global economy. Traditional business practices no longer hold weightage in the "new normal" COVIDIAN world, and new opportunities need to be explored to combat the difficulties organizations face in their operations and activities. Marketing endeavours need to be reconstructed from a “push” strategy to a more empathetic, mindful awareness of consumer needs. Rather than focusing on profit-earning opportunities only, brands must focus on the larger issues that affect society in the times of the COVID. Due to the pandemic, people worldwide are suffering from distress, anger, confusion, and sadness. Brands need to build positivity around their products/services, so that consumers feel a sense of warmth and optimism, to be associated with that parent brand. In fact, consumers would be more likely to purchase from a brand that they can emotionally relate to. If brands can seize this opportunity to associate positive emotions with their offerings, there is a higher probability of long-term ROI and stronger consumer loyalty in these stressful times. Thus, emotional marketing can be used as a useful tool to build stronger connections with consumers during COVID and ensure that brand loyalty is maintained.

The "Thank You for Not Riding" campaign from UBER is an example of how an advertisement can create a strong emotional impact on consumers. UBER suffered losses during the COVID lockdowns as nobody was willing to travel. However, it still promoted the idea of staying at home and not venturing out, for the greater good of society. The advertisement showed how people could make their daily lives enjoyable through hobbies, domestic chores, and interactions with families and friends through social media sites. The commercial's tagline was "Stay Home for Everyone who can't," and was a direct reference to frontline workers, who had to relentlessly put in efforts for others even during the peak COVID season. The advertisement is cheerful and optimistic. It uses bright colours, soothing music, and smiling faces to drive home its message. Thus, consumers will feel a strong sense of loyalty for UBER because the brand addresses the broader issue of COVID precautions, even at the cost of its own opportunity costs. When a brand strikes an emotional chord with consumers, the latter are more likely to avail of its products and services at any cost. In this case, people will ride UBER cabs once they start going back to their regular routines because they feel that the brand is socially responsible and cares for its consumers. They would want to be associated with such a brand and use its services as much as possible. UBER will develop stronger relationships with consumers through its responsible stance during the pandemic and its emotionally-enriched advertisements.

There are six core emotions associated with the human mind. These are happiness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness. Since contemporary times are gloomy, it is even more essential to evoke happy emotions than depressing ones. However, some brands might also play on the fear associated with COVID and promote their products as safety or reassurance measures. Consumers should feel confident in instilling their faiths in the brand, even amidst the pandemic, and post these problematic times too. The advantages of emotional marketing are that it makes advertisements more memorable. Imagine a brand that understands your mindset during the COVID; be it your apprehensions or future expectations. Won't you remember that brand, beyond its advertisements, social media campaigns, or video posts? Of course, you will. You will seek the brand out, purchase its products, and share your feedback with others, to increase the brand reach in the future. Emotional marketing inspires consumers to take action, be it sharing the advertisement with friends or leaving positive feedback on the product page. If an emotional trigger is involved in the marketing process, consumers feel much more connected with the brand. They will take positive actions that can benefit themselves as well as the brand. Relationships will go beyond purchases and will be much more long-lasting and permanent. As brand loyalty increases, consumers will be

willing to pay higher prices for the brand and will promote it on their own. Consumers will shell out premium prices for brands that they feel familiar with, and even during COVID, they are less likely to deter from their buying behaviour. Even if people have lesser disposable income at their disposal during COVID, they will still stay loyal to the brand and purchase its products, when they can again afford to.

Recently, AMUL released an advertisement on celebrating Raksha Bandhan via social media, during COVID. While the brother is alone on this day, due to social isolation protocols, his sister delivers Amul chocolates and a rakhi to him on time. It is a beautiful advertisement that shows the love between siblings and how Indian festivities can be celebrated, even during COVID, via AMUL products. Similarly, WhatsApp came up with an advertisement that depicted how an old, lonely woman was motivated to paint, through the voice messages and video calls from her nurse. It shows how WhatsApp can keep loved ones connected, even when they cannot be close geographically. While AMUL and WhatsApp an established brand, even new companies can use emotional marketing as a useful strategy during the pandemic. The focus should be on highlighting the brand's usefulness during COVID while catering to a person's feelings.

The ways of using emotional marketing as a tool during COVID are:

1) Create a sense of reassurance that things will change for the better soon. But while COVID persists, the products/services of the brand are available for consumers to use, following social distancing protocols. Even if a brand is not functioning during COVID, consumers should feel assured that the services will be back soon!

2) Make the advertisements personal and convey a story through them. Show how families are connected, through social media, and people are just a call away. Depict

that people can stay happy and cheerful through good and healthy activities and interactions with others.

3) Make marketing campaigns interactive and engaging. Consumers can post their experiences and stories for a campaign, and these can be interwoven as shared experiences for the brand. Brands can host live events to interact with consumers over ZOOM or SKYPE. Through such activities, people will feel a sense of belongingness, and brands can collect feedback more easily.

4) Flash safety precautions in the marketing campaigns, and motivate consumers to take care of themselves and others around them. Promotions should be tied to the safety precautions of COVID. Through such promotions, consumers will be more likely to understand that the organization is involved in consumer welfare, rather than just profits.

5) Use colours, music, and props engagingly, to evoke emotions in people. Ensure that people like the presentation of the advertisements and the visuals, audio, etc. should justify the main idea.

6) Use nostalgia and make people reflect on the good days of the past. As people are stressed about the current pandemic, brands can create a sense of nostalgia by a throwback to their old advertisements and making consumers emotional about the days gone by. Such nostalgic triggers can improve brand loyalty even more.

In conclusion, it can be said that when genuine emotions are involved in marketing, it does not seem like marketing at all. A brand that has an emotional connection with people seems like a part of their personalities. Humans build and thrive on emotions. When a brand recognizes this, it appeals to these human feelings and gains a long-term payoff. Especially in turbulent and disturbing times, such an appeal to human emotions can create strong bonds between consumers and brands. It's a relief for people to know that somethings don't change in life, and their favourite brand is one of them. Brands should let this trust, love, and belongingness grow with emotional marketing, during the COVID phase and henceforth

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