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Faculty | Apr 01, 2015 |

Does empathy belong in marketing? Center says yes.

Attendees at the Conference for Positive Marketing participate in an exercise in which they explain what is in their purses and backpacks.

Attendees at the Conference for Positive Marketing participate in an exercise in which they explain what is in their purses and backpacks.

Listening and observing are keys to a more empathetic way to conduct marketing, said presenters at the recent Conference for Positive Marketing held at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center.

“You’ve heard us say this before at the center that marketing is about people. We must understand people – what they want, what they need and what will empower and energize them,” said Dawn Lerman the executive director of the Center for Positive Marketing.

Christine Chastain and Tim McKnight, who both work for Cigna, said marketers don’t always get a complete picture just from what consumers say. They often must dig deeper in interviews to elicit “storytelling” moments that present a more complete, as well as more empathetic, picture.

Stacy Graiko, director of qualitative research at Firelfy Millward Brown, said pursuing a deeper understanding of the consumer can help to provide what are known as high quality connections, those short interactions with people and products that leave consumers feeling better about themselves and their lives.

Ultimately, such interactions and trust of brand can lead to “brand love,” said Aaron Ahuvia, a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, who said brand love shares some of the same characteristics of human love – passionate involvement, anticipated separation distress and a positive emotional connection.

Creating such emotional connections takes research, in-depth interviews, innovation and organizational coherence, Chastain and McKnight said. And positive reactions to brand such as trust can be developed.

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