Sharmin Ali, CEO & Founder, Instoried

Sharmin is responsible for driving strategy, leadership and sales as the Founder & CEO at Instoried. Prior to deep-diving into a technology startup with Instoried, Sharmin had founded a media startup to build India’s own Netflix. Prior to that she was with Mu Sigma, working in sales with Fortune 500 companies in the US. Sharmin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communications. She has received an honor from the HRD Ministry of India and COWE Womennovator under Innovation and Entrepreneurship category and won the best product and best innovation under the startup category by The Economic Times Innotribe Awards in Mumbai.


We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in marketing as people are trying to connect more and build relationships virtually. Empathy is emerging as a great competitive advantage as customers today are more hooked to the emotional value of a product in their lives than just its monetary value. In a recent study by 4.NeuroMarketing, it was pointed out that Ads with purely emotional content perform twice as well (31% vs. 16%) compared to ones with only rational content.

The thought of emotions in marketing is not entirely a GenZ concept. Advertising has always been about emotions. Be it Nike’s “Just Do It” or Lego’s, “Rebuild the World” or CocaCola’s “Open Happiness” campaigns, emotions have played a vital role in advertising to build consumer interest. But empathy has seldom been channeled into digital marketing and sales. With the changing scenario, digital marketers should focus more on amplifying their emotional engagement.

Jennifer S Lerner, Ye Li, Peircario Valdesolo, and Karim S Kassam, wrote a paper on 1. Emotions and Decision Making which is published in the Annual Review of Psychology. It talks about how emotions are responsible for triggering a set of responses (psychological, behavior, experience, and communication) in any individual. Therefore, the proper usage of emotions can create effective and productive Call-To-Actions (CTAs). The inclusion of emotions makes people believe that the company cares about them. This sense of being taken care of, or being taken into consideration strengthens the CTAs.
Email subject lines, blog titles, and social media captions act as deciding factors on whether a viewer is interested in interacting with the content further or not. Content then acts as a deciding factor on whether the viewer wants to move forward with the product/service or not.

Post-Pandemic, the world has witnessed an economic downturn. People are no longer making purchase decisions based on just discounts or prestige. People want more trust and comfort from their purchases. An article by 2. Nielsen addresses the changing mindset of consumers post-pandemic. It mentions that marketers should prioritize the sentiments of consumers and how empathy will work as the infinity stones in the process. Several companies are now treating emotions as lead players rather than mere sidekicks while orchestrating their digital marketing campaigns. Social media have further aided the cause by creating an option to categorize the target audience. Thus a fundraising campaign can use grief and target a certain set of people while a sale announcement can use FOMO and target a different set. Understanding the mood of the customer and aligning your content with it is the perfect recipe for successful and viral social media content. This empathetic way of marketing assures quality content, wider outreach, and popularity.

But, the impact of empathy goes beyond social media likes and search Ad rankings. It helps to build the social value of any brand. This value is the reason why people prefer one product or service over its competitors and are even willing to spend higher amounts of money on their favorite brands. It is no secret that people love to trust the word of mouth and assurance of other customers. Any customer who feels attached to the brand will always try to motivate others to use it. A 3. Forbes article also claimed that “Consumers who are emotionally connected to a brand are worth two times more to a business than the average highly satisfied customer.” Apple proved this by garnering a huge loyal customer base. All hail emotion-rich marketing!

The inclusion of emotions is going to create a more empathetic marketing ecosystem where the mere benefits of a product are not going to sell themselves. Every benefit needs to be approached in a way that the customers can value them and feel emotionally attached to them. A lot of companies are exploring this by marketing their goodwill projects. Sometimes these projects differ vastly from the product but succeed in making a soft corner in their customers’ hearts. Domino’s was in the news in 2018 for filling potholes on American roads to ensure the safety of people and their pizzas. The filled potholes carried the logo of Domino’s and acted as a brilliant marketing strategy.

The future of marketing will be focused on the consumer’s response to emotions as the main strategy. Tomorrow’s marketers will not only want to know who “searched” for their products or “liked” their posts but also what emotions their customers feel while searching, liking, purchasing, and using their products. This will help them understand what story to tell and how to design their revenue grasping campaigns.

Empathy is the next big growth hack for marketers around the globe with a future full of emotions and actions.

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