Attention, Memory & Emotion in the New Media Landscape

Our media landscape is noisier than ever before. People no longer simply consume content – they generate, deconstruct, and reflect on it on ubiquitous social media platforms. The younger generations are “digital natives,” having grown up not knowing a world before the Internet, which has developed into a shifting frontier where companies compete for the prize of attention. Attention allows marketers to create a connection, which ideally develops into a relationship between consumer and company.

Marketers and corporate leaders need to ask themselves how do they create deeper emotional bonds with consumers, bonds that transcend functional product attributes.

It’s well established that an emotional connection is key to building customer loyalty, most probably because of the connection between emotions and memory. 1 Do a personal inventory of your own consumer habits and brands to which you return, and you’ll almost certainly find a wealth of emotions and memories from something as simple as a bottle cap.

Science supports this connection between attention, emotion and brand loyalty:

“Scientists have uncovered that humans feel first and think second. When confronted with sensory information, the emotional section of the brain can process the information in one-fifth of the time the cognitive section requires.

Emotions also have a large impact on brand loyalty, according to the Tempkin Group. In a 2016 study, they found that when individuals have a positive emotional association with a specific brand, they are 8.4 times more likely to trust the company, 7.1 times more likely to purchase more and 6.6 times more likely to forgive a company’s mistake. Nielsen released a study in 2016 which revealed that ads with an above average emotional response from consumers caused a 23% increase in sales compared to average advertisements. The Harvard Business Review has also stated that a positive emotional bond with a company is more important to consumers than customer satisfaction.” 2

Companies must look to create this positive emotional bond with new consumers, including the digital natives who are now young adults. Which brings us to one of their major concerns: sustainability. Increasingly, consumers expect companies to positively impact society as well as provide high quality goods and services. They’re looking for an authentic conversation.

Brand Loyalty, Sustainability and the Zoomers

According to Bloomberg, Zoomers (digital natives both in the late 90s and early 00s) comprise 32% of the global population as of 2019. When surveyed, they claim to be willing to spend a substantial 50-100% more for sustainable products. 3

While Zoomers have concerns about money, they are also worried about other things. At the end of 2019, guess what was ranked as the number one issue facing the world by a survey of more than 10,000 Zoomers across 22 countries?

It should come as no surprise that it was climate change. The chaotic reaction globally to COVID-19 has been a preview of the future challenges humanity faces regarding climate change. If Zoomers were worried about climate change in 2019, they are now firmly convinced that more action is needed to reduce our negative climate feedback loop.” 4

As Zoomers ascend in the workforce and drive more consumer decisions, expect to see sustainability become front and center in emotional marketing in every sector. Combined with the growing ubiquity of climate concerns from the political sphere, this presents a unique challenge for organizations both practically and in terms of marketing and communications.

Establishing an emotional connection between your brand and customers is the height of marketing success — but achieving it is complex. Tapping into sustainability is the answer, which is where Soli places our focus.

In the future, there will be two kinds of companies: those that address the sustainability question and emotionally connect with their customers about it, and those who don’t. Beyond the obvious ethical mandate corporate leaders have to meaningfully address climate change and sustainability, organizations that communicate these initiatives to consumers, and moreover involve consumers in sustainability goals, stand to win big in the coming years.

  1. The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory, Frontiers in Psychology, []
  2. Let’s Get Emotional: the Future of Online Marketing, Forbes,[]
  3. The Results are In: Sustainability is Critical for Consumer Brands, CGS,[]
  4. Welcome to the Zoomer Age, Medium,[]