Advertisers should consider employing “both rational and emotional appeals” in campaigns rather than using arbitrary divisions between these messages, according to a study in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Hyuk Jun Cheong (Akita International University) and Yunjae Cheong (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies) discussed this subject in a paper entitled Updating the Foote, Cone & Belding Grid: Revisiting the product classifications of the FCB Grid for online shopping and contemporary consumers’ decision making.

And one recommendation from their work is that brand custodians “should use both rational and emotional appeals for their advertising campaigns”.

Such a proposition suggests that marketers “should not comply with the common myth that advertising appeals should mirror the thinking or feeling product type” that has long split items into two broad categories.

The base point for the study was the Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) grid, dating back to 1980, that uses two dimensions – high/low purchase-decision involvement and think/feel purchase decision types – to create four quadrants.

And they are: high purchase-decision involvement and “think”; high purchase-decision involvement and “feel”; low purchase-decision involvement and “think”; and low purchase-decision involvement and feel.

Cheong and Cheong’s main study featured 1,104 consumers – all over 21 years of age – in the US. The average age of participants was 49 years old, and the gender split was almost even.

More specifically, their survey covered 35 categories – ranging from groceries and electronics to financial services, cars and home buying – and over 115 product examples.

Participants in the survey reported their level of purchase-decision involvement for the product type, perceptions of whether it was a “thinking” or “feeling” purchase, and if they preferred shopping for it online or offline.

One result of their work is that a “think purchase” and a “feel purchase” should actually be “perceived as separate purchase dimensions”, leaving space for more nuanced understanding of emotional and rational decision-making.

A body of research, for instance, has claimed that “emotion and rationality can occur simultaneously”, and various neuroscience studies have challenged the idea that separate hemispheres of the brain respond to stimuli exclusively.

Equally, Cheong and Cheong’s study recommended removing the assumed dichotomy between the four quadrants in the FCB grid, as purchase involvement and the think/feel dynamic are a “continua” and not discrete categories.

When “planning their brand promotions, practitioners should not depend on the myth that consumers exclusively consider products’ emotional values (e.g., design, colors, and brands’ sign values) or functional benefits (e.g., practicability, durability),” they proposed.

“In reality, consumers may find products’ emotional as well as functional benefits almost equally important and evaluate them simultaneously when shopping for a product.”

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff