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Rational and emotional appeals in advertising

Marketers use various methods to affect the consumers’ purchasing behavior. Advertising is one of the most common methods used to grow customer base and drive higher sales by persuading customers to buy from a specific brand. How good a job an advert does at attracting people depends on some unique factors. While some adverts are more effective, others are not depending upon how effectively they persuade the buyers. How do these ads persuade customers or how do they influence their buying decisions? Advertisements are used either to inform consumers or to affect them emotionally to persuade them. Based on that, advertising appeals are classified into two main categories that include rational and emotional appeals.

Rational appeal in advertising:

In the case of rational appeal, the advertisers try to appeal to logic and reason rather than emotions. The focus is on persuading the customer by appealing to his senses that making a particular purchase is more reasonable. Generally, the advertising messages that are product feature-based carry a rational appeal. For example, an advertisement highlights the features of a product mainly and how these features are superior to those in other products. Another advertisement may highlight the benefits and the lower price. This is called the use of rational appeal. You can frequently come across such appeals in the adverts for home appliances or automobiles. An ad that states that your car is the most fuel-efficient and safest carries the rational appeal. 

Since just making a claim is not sufficient to persuade the customer, advertisers also use stats and facts to back up their claims. In many cases, advertisers include customer reviews in their ads to support their claims regarding the product features. Many times you will come across an ad for an automobile highlighting its safety ratings. This is done to persuade the customer that it is more logical to buy the advertised car since it is safer than other models in the market.

The use of rational appeal can be very effective in particular cases but not in all. To make it effective, advertisers must back up their claims using stats, facts, and imagery to substantiate their claims. Otherwise, the ad will not be very effective at persuading buyers. Advertisers should not use typical stats that can fail to impress their audience. It is crucial to publicize some outstanding facts about the product or brand for the ad to succeed. 

However, since rational appeal alone often does not prove highly effective at eliciting the correct response, advertisers run campaigns that use rational and emotional appeals. Many times they mix the two in the same advertisement to make it more effective. It is also an excellent method to appeal to a larger target audience at the same time. Many people, while making a purchase, weigh the facts and stats before making a purchase. Others consider the emotional aspects before making a purchase.

Emotional appeal:

The focus of emotional appeal in an advertisement is to elicit a strong emotional response rather than reason or logic. The use of emotional appeal is made to connect with the customers at an emotional level. An ad can evoke a variety of emotions, including fear, anger, love, and passion. Many times emotional appeals in an advert are just meant to make the consumer feel valued and special. Emotional appeals work because while many customers can control their emotions, emotions control most of them. While many times fear may help elicit the proper response, at other times, love or passion is required to connect with the customer.

The life insurance brands commonly make use of advertisements with an emotional appeal and mostly they make use of the fear factor to drive sales. However, the use of fear appeal is also common in the case of health products. Apart from that, while some ads may have a strong fear appeal and include imagery that evokes fear, others may try to do the job at a more subtle level.

For example, brands also try to exploit the hidden fears of customers to drive their messages. The fear of being left behind or being called dull or simple, or the need to stand out are all examples of the fears hidden inside people. Advertisers exploit them to drive sales but without clearly using a fear appeal. A fear appeal will not always work because some customers may reject such ads vehemently. Therefore, advertisers try to connect with the positive emotions of customers. 

Nike’s advertising strategy is a great example of the use of emotional appeal in marketing. The brand frequently uses emotional appeal in its videos to connect with its millions of fans and followers worldwide. Since Nike is a sports brand, emotional appeal works better than rational appeal in its case.

Nike ads mostly have an emotional appeal. Lose Count | Stronger Than One | Nike.

However, it is not just Nike’s case because several other celebrity brands like Pepsi and Coca Cola also depend on emotional appeal to win their customers’ hearts. In many industries, the emotional appeal becomes essential due to factors like competition, the type of purchase, the size of purchase, and the level of brand awareness. The emotional appeal works better when the level of brand awareness is already very high, and people trust your brand. In the case of new players, they need to use rational appeal before connecting at an emotional level. 

Many times advertisers mix the two types of appeals to generate the best results. If ads depend solely on rational appeal, they can fail to connect at an emotional level, which works better on various audiences, including adults. The same applies to emotional appeal, whose success also depends on brand awareness and other factors like the type of target audience and the market scenario or competition. Using both the elements and balancing them properly can help advertisers garner higher success and influence their audience with higher effectiveness. However, advertisers must consider all the important factors while creating ads. Considering the target audience is one of the most important steps before creating an advertisement. It helps you decide which types of ads will work best and what kind of appeal will be most influential at drawing the expected response.

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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