• Sean Keenan

How Emotion affects Products, Services, and Devices

Apple is one of, if not the, most famous brand in the world. Even though competing brands such as Android often contain features many tech junkies prefer, such as battery life and customizability, Apple still dominates the perception of the general audience. While there’s many different reasons for this, the biggest one is their ability to utilize the user’s emotion to their advantage.

As this article by Daniel Threlfall of CrazyEgg shows, Apple has a great understanding of their user’s emotional relationship with their product.

The PC vs. Mac ads show that Apple understands the frustrated PC user looking for a better solution. It’s simplistic advertising spoken in a language that virtually any prospective customer could understand. There was no jargon or explanations that could be confusing to a basic PC user, and that kind of approach continues to win over a lot of customers. Other ads show happy people having a great time with the simplicity of their iPads. This consistent display of positive emotion is the driving force behind sales. They’re not selling more storage, or more battery life. Apple is selling the emotion of contented happiness that comes from a simplified lifestyle; a result of owning an Apple product.”

Rather than dumping a bunch of numbers and specs the typical user won’t care much about, Apple instead goes for the heart in their marketing. Their ads are always sleek and simplistic, containing nothing but the product and name. In their Mac vs PC ads, they’re able to directly target frustrations typical PC users have and show that Apple can alleviate those frustrations. Even how the two people are dressed plays at our emotions, as the PC actor is an awkward businessman, while the Apple actor is clearly meant to represent the average user with their casual clothes and “chill” demeanor.

With this in mind, I wanted to take a deeper look into how other products and services utilize the user’s emotions, more specifically mine. For this exercise, I chose a separate product, service, and device, and then described what emotions they typically give me depending on whether or not they satisfy the need that I have.

Product: Ushanka Hat

My winter hat of choice

My Ushanka Hat makes me FEEL NURTURED and CONTENT due to my NEED for WARMTH and SAFETY. I’m a fan of the winter and have wound up collecting quite a few different hats. For the most part, the emotion appeal of the Ushanka specifically is the practicality of it making me not freeze to death. The aspect of the hat that makes me feel nurtured is that it was a gift from my mom for Christmas when I was a child and I wore it all the time as a kid. Due to that, anytime I see or wear the hat, there’s a sense of comfort I feel because of the memories that hat has provided to me throughout the years.

Service: Spotify

I have easy access to any of my playlists, all customized with different emotional states in mind

Spotify makes me FEEL SERENE and COMPASSIONATE due to my NEED for OPENNESS and ACCEPTANCE. For me, I tend to listen to music when in a highly emotional state. Whether that be happiness, sadness, or anger, the right song makes it easier to process my thoughts, as well as gain comfort that I’m not alone in how I’m feeling. Spotify is especially great for this, as I not only have millions of different songs, but can create a multitude of different custom playlists for whatever mood I happen to be in at the time.

Device: Nintendo Switch

What my Switch currently looks like

My Nintendo Switch makes me FEEL ENLIVENED and STIMULATED because of NEED for FLOW, CREATIVITY, and EMPATHY. Video games are often an escape for me and the switch is no different. Whenever I’m bored, anxious, or just waiting around, I can flip it on and quickly get into a flow state much easier compared to other devices. I also love genres such as fighting games and RPGs, as the former has open ended options such as the character choices and playstyles help let people express their creativity in a new way, while the later lets me experience a grander story with relatable and empathic characters.

The creativity is unlimited with this many different characters (Dragon Ball Fighterz, 2018)

The Power of Emotions

The most interesting aspect I found from this task is the new perspective you gain on these products. Obviously I play my Switch frequently because I find it fun, but looking at it through an emotional lense gives a unique perspective.

Beyond the device, I began thinking more about how I interacted with the games themselves. I tried to think about what I enjoy about these games, why I can play them so frequently, and why many larger scale games often stick in my memory for a long time. While the simple fun of the games is appealing, I realized how strong the emotional connection I have to the games is.

Simply hearing this song puts me in an emotional state, often taking me back to how I felt first playing Final Fantasy VII. This is what often elevates many games for me beyond on simple enjoyment and this type of thought process can be applied to almost any interest you may have

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© 2020 by Sean Keenan.