Are Consumers Really Demanding That Brands Meet Their Rational, Emotional and Societal Needs?

Marketign NonsenseAccording to a recent Edelman study, “brands that are able to meet these three need states (rational, emotional and societal) can expect a greater inclination on the part of consumers to recommend and share brand content, defend a brand, and purchase from the brand.”

Yeah, that’s why McDonald’s has been one of the world’s most valuable brands for the past 30 years. Unhealthy, low quality, cheap, fast food… low wages and no benefits for unskilled workers… no commitment to the local or global agriculture or environment. That is the trifecta of meeting the three need states.

I am quite confident that many people – maybe most – choose certain brands (say a Jaguar F-Type or Apple iPhone 6) because they either project or reflect a particular need, be it emotional, rational or societal. But I am also fairly certain that virtually no consumer is calculating which brands to choose and defend and share based on how they meet their core needs.

No one is that gullible, simple or stupid. And no one has time for that. It is true however, that people want to feel good about the decisions they make. Conversely, they don’t want to feel bad about the decisions they make. So, you pick a car you like and look for things about the company that agree with your need states… or you choose a hamburger place you like and do your best to overlook the not so good things that company does.

And yes, I am certain there are some hard core consumers who only use certain brands… until they find out that there are no perfect brands (since brands are like people). Remember the original “Made in America” campaign? I had friends who swore up and down that they would never, ever buy any product that was not 100% made in America. How did that work out?

Brands should just do their best to be true to themselves. And consumers should just buy the brands they like. Everything else is just a lot of silly nonsense, which is fine now and then and in small doses.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.