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Tender Hearts and Big Eyes
by Barry Feig

If you want a big share of market
for a long time to come,
be sure you first gain
share of heart.

As marketing people, we're constantly talking about shares. There's share of mind, share of market, share of stomach, and, in the credit card industry, there's even something called share of wallet. But I want to introduce the most important share of all, because it causes the other shares to happen.

It's share of heart. Share of heart is how the consumer responds emotionally, as opposed to physically, to your product. It's where you put all the elements of your product together to create something that's more than the sum of its parts. You achieve share of heart when you instill your product with something of great personal value to the consumer.

If positioning is the heart of the product development process, then share of heart is the soul. Although people can't always get reassuring hugs from their mates or congratulations and security from their bosses, they can always count on their favorite products to come through.

Share of heart is the triumph of heart over head. Consumers won't admit it, and most often they don't even realize it but the heart overrules the head on almost every purchase decision.

Why do people choose a product anyway? Of course it has to have some kind of physical benefit and be priced within reason. But consumers choose many products because they appeal to their self-image, not be cause they fit a budget. We all want to be special. Self-deception and ego gratification isn't all bad, even in these supposedly more serious times. By satisfying a more "spiritual need," or even a good old-fashioned greedy materialistic want, product can help consumers feel special.

You can't factor share of heart into a spreadsheet. You can't pull share of heart out of a quantitative research study (usually).

It's hard to sell share of heart to management be cause it's difficult to back up with hard numbers.

And they almost never teach share of heart in business school because you can't quantity it. But share of heart is something special. It's marketing magic, especially to the bottom line.

Emotional involvement is what builds brand loyalty. It's what makes consumers buy your product even when they have run out of coupons. It's what makes consumers choose your product over a parity product, even when it costs them more money.

Share of heart means adding to your product through imagery and association. It answers the two key questions that are part of almost every purchase. How is this product going to reach out and touch the consumer? How is it going to improve the consumer's life? It's about adding a touch of salesmanship to your product through subtle clues.

Look at the success of bottled waters. It's a triumph of heart over head. Why should anyone pay premium price for water when they can get it from their tap, virtually for free? Because it makes a consumer feel better for having bought it. It looks good to be carrying a bottle of Evian to the health club. (Did you know that Evian spelled backwards is naive?) It sounds good when you order it at a bar or restaurant. It's especially illogical when you order bottled water chilled with ice-made, of course, with ordinary tap water.


Share of heart is a key to impulse sales. In an impulse product, all rationality in the purchase decision is short-circuited. The consumer has no time to think, only to react. You have to do everything you can to spur that reaction. That's how L'eggs pantyhose became the dominant force in the women's hosiery market. In a way, share of heart conquers the information overload we talk about by substituting images and feelings for words. Say Godiva, and you instantly call up chocolate imagery. Say Chivas Regal and you are talking about a prestigious drink.

But share of heart is more than just a slogan, and it's too important to be left to your advertising agency. It should be manifest in all parts of your product-from the packaging to the product itself.

Pet food producers and baby food marketers have (or should have) learned a special packaging trick that develops and reinforces share of heart: big eyes. The most effective packages in these categories feature babies and puppies with eyes that are wide, large, and open.

There's something in our genetic programming that makes big eyes effective and irresistible. Want proof? Check out any Steven Spielberg movie. The good guys, usually aliens, have large, vapid eyes, while his villains, like the shark in Jaws and the monstrous creations for Jurassic Park all have tiny eyes.

There's a delicate balance between the emotional and the physical. Having a new product that works better or does a new consumer trick is not enough anymore. You've got to feed the ego. Consumers need to feel good about themselves and fulfill their own self-images, it's a basic human need.

Give the consumer a vested emotional interest in the product you're selling and you have a winner in the marketplace. While marketers are selling from the mind, consumers are usually buying from the heart. The good taste or performance of a product can last six seconds or less, but the good feeling it provides can last a long, long time. You are what you buy.

Mr. Feig is president-creative director of New Products Workshop Inc. This article is one of several that was published in Food & Beverage Marketing.

For More Information Contact:
Barry Feig:
Telephone 800-707-0739
Santa Fe, NM 8750