Add Value to your Brand through Empathy Marketing

Is your business trying to relate to customers on an emotional level? Empathy can be a very powerful tool, but it should not be forced. Defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,” empathy is something you give to customers; it’s feeling with people. If you’ve been watching brands like Ikea, McDonalds or Home Depot, then you know it can be a challenge to hit the right emotional chord with customers. There is a fine line between utilizing real emotional connection and being insensitive. When done correctly, empathy marketing can build trust in your brand for years to come. Before your business starts using empathy marketing to engage customers, there are some things you should know:

Empathy Is About The Customer’s Needs

The key is to add value by relating to the wants and needs of the customer. Your goal is to clearly communicate that you understand your audience’s struggle; the sell comes later. Apple has consistently done empathy marketing well. Their company focuses on empathy and anticipating the needs of their customers. By connecting people in the moment, Apple has chosen to empathize with customers through sentimental avenues.


Empathy Marketing Isn’t Something New

A quick Google search on “empathy marketing” shows that this buzz word has been floating around for a few years. And if you watched this year’s Super Bowl (or read our blog on The Big Marketing Strategy Insight from Super Bowl LI), you know that empathy marketing was huge and is on track to be the big marketing trend of 2017. At Super Bowl LI, 84 Lumber told an emotionally engaging story of a mother and daughter fleeing Mexico to the United States that tugged at viewers’ heart strings. This campaign was clever because it required viewers to visit the company’s website to see how the story ended.

Empathy Can be Done Wrong

You don’t own empathy. Just because you think you know how someone feels or will respond to something, does not mean you will get it right. Push too hard for the emotional connection, and you may end up turning people off to your brand. McDonalds was an example of empathy marketing gone very wrong. They attempted to sell fish sandwiches by capitalizing on “grief” in an advertisement that depicted a child going to the restaurant for his dead father’s favorite meal. The whole thing was in bad taste and people quickly retaliated against the company.

Empathy Can Be Fun

Ikea empathy marketingA lot of times we think of empathy as relating to someone’s sadness. But it can also be fun! A great empathy tool is education. Your customers want knowledge or skills, so give them tutorials, or life hacks. Home Depot does a great job of this with their DIY infographics and blogs. Ikea has also gotten a lot of press for their “Retail Therapy” campaign which does an excellent job of relating to customers in a fun way.


Empathy marketing shows customers you want to connect with them, first and foremost. For an effective empathy campaign, the customer’s wants and needs have to be put first. The desire to connect needs to come before the desire to sell, otherwise, your empathy will not be received well. You and your brand don’t own empathy, the people do. But if you put the customers needs first and address their hopes, fears, and dreams, you can build a successful connection through empathy marketing. Need help getting started with a branding strategy or a new advertising campaign? BlueTreeDigital’s team can help!