Creating Emotions

By Katharyne Shelton

Lately, I've been putting a lot of thought into emotion... namely how emotion drives sales. Think about what your friends share on social media. No-one shares a story they are apathetic about. People share stories because it makes them laugh, because it makes them happy... or angry... or sad.

Your product is a story. "I LOVE these new cat shaped marshmallows! I LOVE my new Chewbacca mask!" This goes double for luxury or recreational items like coloring books, t-shirts, cosmetics and candy. Yet marketers still keep pushing out boring products and wondering why they have no sales. People share stories because it makes them laugh, because it makes them happy... or angry... or sad. Camomile tea is boring. Hypno-Tea is exciting! Moisturiser is boring. Jungle Slime is exciting! Pffft cinnamon sticks for your coffee? Try TRIPLE X SPICE BOMBS! Make products that people will want to share with their friends. For every five people who say the Jungle Slime sounds disgusting, ten will go 'OMG! New challenge! I dare you to put Jungle Slime on your face! Jungle Slime Party!!!' It really doesn't matter if some people hate your product. Your concern is the people who have a strong enough positive reaction to buy it. Go out there and make emotions :D

Using the Emotion Wheel to spark product ideas

If you're trying to come up with a holiday theme for a coloring book, a Merch shirt or mug, try this formula. Pick a subject and an angle and put them together. BOOM!

The Subject is easy... Let's say we're making a father's day product so tap into something the Dad feels emotionally connected to. Star Wars, military service or craft beer are perfect subjects for a bundle, t-shirt, coloring book, gift set etc. (Don't make a Star Wars t-shirt though, Disney's lawyers will destroy your life!)

But what about an angle?
Some Dads love humor, some are sentimental.

Two of the big trends on shirt sites right now are:
'World's Greatest Farter - I mean Father'
'Son's First Hero, Daughter's First Love'

Very different emotional sentiments but both massive selling shirts. The key to the angle is a STRONG POINT OF VIEW towards the subject. It doesn't matter as long as it's strong and the great thing is, it works for private label, bundles or anything else you want to sell!

color wheel emotions

Celebrate something, get angry at something, laugh at something, express deep love for something. I found this awesome chart based on Plutchik's list of emotions. Stuck for an idea? Pick a subject and work your way around the center of the wheel. There are of course infinite takes on each emotion from sweet and thoughtful through to T-Shirt Hell offensiveness. Either way, emotion sells.

Examples for Dads!

Now repeat with steak, beer, sports, superheros, tattoos, music, beards...

list of emotions

Bonus: Here's another great list of emotions you can use from the HUMAINE project. Use them to generate t-shirt ideas, greetings cards, shower curtains, novelty toilet paper... Apply them to any subject and see what comes up. "I love steak!" could also be "I'm terrified of the zombie-cow!" or "Meat is murder!" It just depends which emotion (or perspective) you pick. Just make it a strong one.

Have fun!