Your Marketing Strategies Aren’t Complete Without This Sentiment

In a world of low prices and robotic responses, empathy connects consumers to your brand

Adebisi Adewusi
February 07 2019

In marketing, empathy means putting your customer’s needs before your own. If this feels less like business savvy and more like martyrdom, fret not; this approach also benefits your bottom line: 82% of consumers purchase from brands with whom they share high emotional engagements, and 70% spent twice as much money on brands they felt emotionally

Research shows that empathy is positively correlated with growth, productivity, and earnings.  The top 10 companies in the 2016 Empathy Index, for instance, increased their market capitalization more than twice that of the bottom ten.

Establish and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with your customers by incorporating empathy into the following four marketing realms. 

Content That Hits Home 

37% of marketers cite content creation as one of the top three reasons for stagnation, a clear issue for the 60% of consumers who believe that branded content is irrelevant or fails to deliver. Introduce empathy into your strategy by producing content that and helps customers solve problems.

Kate Spade showed an empathetic trait by taking the time to answer customers’ questions and share expert tricks. In their YouTube series Talking Shop, store associates reveal new products, share style tips, and answer real shopping questions from customers. This past year, average watch time increased by 39 seconds and earned views grew by 500%.

Nike recently relied on storytelling to evoke empathy from its customers. In an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, the controversial athlete is featured as a hero who gave up his career to fight for a just cause.


This emotion-driven campaign drove Nike to the top 15% of ads on Power Contribution and the top 10% for distinctiveness and enjoyment.

Channel empathy by connecting your brand to a powerful (and on-brand) message, whether you’re an athletic equipment company, or women’s clothing retailer.

Campaigns That Resonate

Creating campaigns from the POV of the brand will likely alienate customers, as your perspective may not reflect their reality. This means looking at the world through your customers’ eyes, understanding what matters to them, and using these insights to create campaigns that customers can connect with.

Research shows that inclusive advertisements are 25% more effective and emotionally engaging than non-inclusive creatives. Not surprisingly, the least inclusive advertisements generate the most negative emotional reactions.

In 2015, H&M created the Close the Loop Campaign, which hinged on diversity and inclusion. Advertisements featured models of different looks, sizes, styles, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  The message? In fashion, everyone should feel free to express themselves however they wish.

When you recognize customers’ pains and join the fight to solve the issue, your target audience will feel recognized and eager to support your brand.

Awareness of the Main Issue

Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, and Rent the Runway have a few things in common: they understood their customer’s pain points, solved them, and went on to disrupt their respective industries. Innosight’s research estimates that three-quarters of today’s S&P 500 companies will be replaced by 2027.

An empathy map can help you visualize your customer experience and better understand the challenges your customers might face when interacting with your brand.


The map is a tool for discovering solutions and simplifying the customer experience. 55% of consumers claim they pay more for a brand that delivers a streamlined experience, and 64% say they’d recommend a brand with simpler communications.

Though they may seem similar, empathy maps aren’t a replacement for customer journey maps. Rather, empathy maps make it faster and easier to understand what your customers are thinking and feeling.

With startups wreaking havoc on traditional retail, identifying what customers want and need is crucial to staying in business. And the best way to understand your target audience is to channel the customers themselves.

Deliver Empathetic Customer Service

When things go wrong, customers don’t want sympathy – they want empathy. For 40% of customers, that means better service. Adopting an empathetic customer service approach can mean the difference between losing or retaining a customer.

Empathy-based customer service requires a deep understanding of your customer’s frustration, active listening techniques, and a satisfying resolution process.  This approach makes customers feel understood and appreciated.

Apple Geniuses, for example, are trained to practice empathy toward customers. Their “The Power of Empathy” training course educates representatives to employ the “Three F’s” during customer interactions: feel, felt, and found.

And Apple’s training is paying off; according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 2018 Household Appliance and Electronics Report, Apple earned an ACSI score of 83 in 2018, holding their lead over Amazon, Samsung, and other ubiquitous brands.

Empathy is one of the most valuable assets your customer service team can have. Use it to mitigate the blow of a negative interaction.

Put Customers First

Talent and creativity alone aren’t enough to reach customers at an emotional level. Inch toward an empathetic-driven strategy by using customer data to understand and illuminate their impressions of your brand. In marketing, choose topics and messages that align with your messaging and relate to your target audience on a deep level. Without first putting yourselves into the shoes of consumers, it’ll be almost impossible to create a campaign that truly resonates, no matter how ground-breaking it seems.



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