Why are people getting so emotional about Amazon.com?


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Global research firm Harris Interactive recently released the results of a consumer survey which rated companies on their “emotional appeal.”

Johnson & Johnson topped the list – no surprise, given the hallowed place J&J products hold in the minds of most consumers. For most people, just catching a whiff of a J&J product evokes pleasant memories of their childhood (or that of their kids). It’s one of the reasons consumers hold the company in such high regard and demonstrate intense loyalty to the firm.

But it was the second company on Harris’ ranking of emotional appeal that may surprise you: Amazon.com – an internet retailer that has no in-person contact with customers, no brick and mortar presence, and largely serves as delivery channel for other companies’ products.

Amazon’s #2 ranking on this list helps debunk a common misconception – that only certain types of companies can stir intense positive emotion among consumers and enjoy the ensuing loyalty that that triggers.

The thinking is that such emotional connections are the sole domain of businesses that, by design, exist to create happy memories (such as destination resorts or entertainment companies). Such connections, the theory goes, are out of reach for less glamorous businesses, like a CPA firm, a sanitation service, or an internet retailer.

Amazon’s placement in this survey demonstrates that you don’t have to be Disney to create intense emotional appeal among your customers. And this is important for all businesses to recognize, since customer experiences laced with positive emotion are much more likely to generate loyalty.

What makes Amazon so emotionally appealing to consumers (and what gives all those other, seemingly unglamorous industries, reason for hope) is that they are extremely adept at cultivating positive feelings and mitigating negative ones.

Think of it this way: Amazon has built a business around making it effortless to shop.

They free consumers of negative feelings – frustration with fighting traffic to get to a mall, stress trying to find a parking spot, anxiety about wading through an infinite sea of product alternatives.

At the same time, they promote positive feelings – relief at the ease of finding the right product for your needs, peace-of-mind knowing exactly when it will be delivered, and joy at the time you save throughout the process.

This combination creates a very appealing emotional outcome for most people, and helps explain how Amazon – in the seemingly mechanical and mundane business of internet retailing – earned the #2 spot in this Harris poll just behind the much revered Johnson & Johnson.

No matter what business you’re in, no matter how unglamorous it may appear, there’s always an avenue for cultivating positive emotions among your clientele.  Capitalize on that opportunity and – while you may not bring your customers to tears – you will bring them closer to your business.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jon Picoult
As Founder of Watermark Consulting, Jon Picoult helps companies impress customers and inspire employees. An acclaimed keynote speaker, Jon’s been featured by dozens of media outlets, including The Wall St Journal and The New York Times. He’s worked with some of the world’s foremost brands, personally advising CEOs and executive teams.Learn more at www.watermarkconsult.net or follow Jon on Twitter.


  1. From my personal experience, I can tell you it’s not only the shopping that invokes positive emotions about Amazon.com – it’s that combined with the extensive recommendations. Honestly, I rarely buy anything that isn’t a flat-out “I-need-it-NOW” emergency without consulting Amazon.com recommendations first. They have built a reputation that supports the entire experience – from the initial moment of recognizing I have a shopping need, all the way through the decision-making process, the buying process, the ease of check-out and fast shipping, through the after-purchase support if anything goes wrong. It’s the soup-to-nuts experience you really don’t get anywhere any longer and Amazon.com does it better than anyone. I remember when they were a geeky little internet book store with a strange name…it’s so great to see what they’ve evolved into and I can’t wait to see where they will go next.


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