Emotion analytics is unlocking better health decisions

There is a vast disconnect between what we know is good for us when it comes to our health and wellbeing, and what we actually do. And the key to closing that gap, is emotion. 

Emotion is at the heart of every decision we make. Fear of bad news or of too much knowledge prevents people from seeing their GP, and personal setbacks that leave us feeling low can result in unhealthy choices. If healthcare providers can access and understand those emotions, they have the potential to help drive behaviour in positive new directions.

“It’s about getting the right message to the right people; understanding the individual’s healthcare journey, then figuring out how we can be there at the right moments in time,” explains Dahlia Stroud, Asda’s Senior Buying Manager for Healthcare. “That’s our strategy – to be there through a person’s lifespan.” 

Key to accessing those decision-making moments, is emotion analytics. Our own tool, StarMaker, homes in on emotive language in millions of online comments and offline data, uncovering the underlying frustrations and moments of excitement that move consumers to action or apathy. It can be applied to any challenge – it’s helped Nomad uncover how people feel about the frozen food category, and revealed excitement around emerging trends to inform L’Oreal’s future beauty launches. In health, we’ve used StarMaker to help Sanofi identify areas of consumer motivation for probiotics, and used the emotion analytics to support GSK’s work on the future of toothbrushes.

People are driven by emotion when they have an immediate need – when it’s longer term and preventative it’s hard to tap into the emotion because they are not thinking about tomorrow.

Dan Williams, director of commercial strategy and implementation, Perrigo

When it comes to health, purchase choices are the result of either emotional or rational decisions, and whether a consumer sees an issue as an immediate need or one for later, says Dan Williams, director of commercial strategy and implementation at pharmaceuticals company Perrigo, which has collaborated with Asda. In a survey of 3,500 consumers, Perrigo discovered people tend not to buy medicine or take preventative healthcare measures because they believe the issue is not severe enough (25%) or will pass quickly (26%). The answer to overcoming those barriers lies in accessing emotion. 

“We found ‘emotional/later’ doesn’t really exist,” says Williams. “People are driven by emotion when they have an immediate need – when it’s longer term and preventative it’s hard to tap into the emotion because they are not thinking about tomorrow.” 

“That is changing, though. People are thinking more about the future and taking more of the right steps. We have all the facts and figures and logic that say it’s what we should be focussing on. But it is more difficult to tap into their emotions to drive that.” 

This is where StarMaker can help. 

Data analytics tools alone will not solve consumer needs. But by looking at their emotional drivers our innovators can help formulate an action plan to drive better decisions based on what we know induces excitement – an emotion that drives consumers towards purchasing – versus frustration, an emotion that very much deters them from purchase. 

Asda and Perrigo are already acting on their discoveries around consumer emotions. Pharmacists were placed front and centre of the healthcare environments in-store during a trial, after it was revealed emotional shoppers are more interested in education and engagement with people. 

“The key is to help people make better choices,” says Williams “It’s not for us to force people into certain things, we just need to make sure they have access to the information, the pharmacist and different types of products that will enable them to feel confident and empowered when it comes to self-care choices.”

StarMaker has already helped Reckitt Benckiser, GSK, Sanofi and others in the healthcare space. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch here: EllenT@Happen.com