Joy marketing – is this just emotional marketing and does it work?

Joy marketing
4 minutes read

It seems like every month there is a new term, acronym or buzzword. One that has received a little more attention in 2022 is ‘joy marketing’. We can all agree that we need a little more joy and happiness after nearly 2 years of a pandemic! So, read on as we get to grips with joy marketing and ask if this is just emotional marketing and does it work?


What is joy marketing?

Joy marketing is a term that describes marketing activity that is specifically designed to elicit a feeling of joy in an audience. The logic behind joy marketing is that it enables brands and organisations to connect on a deeper, emotional level. The goal is to create a lasting, positive impression and sentiment towards the brand and its products. Businesses in the consumer sector thirst for quality reach – that is, reaching as many of the right eyes with the right content at the right time as possible. Joy marketing has quite literally, exploded. And, who can blame brands and marketers seeking emotional fulfilment after some hard times?

A recent study identified that employees who get involved in delivering experiential goods and services had improved health and wellbeing at work. It therefore follows that marketers similarly involved in brand are keen to evoke joyful emotions.


Is joy marketing just emotional marketing?

We recently reviewed the term, emotional marketing. There are obvious similarities between the two. Both aim to stimulate emotional response to create an emotional connection with customers. The only difference is that joy marketing specifically targets the emotion of joy. In contrast, emotional marketing works on positive valence and association, not just on joy. The obvious question is whether one is better than the other. In a neuroscientific study, we consider the context of the study as well as the individual (with primary research). This is because everyone responds differently to stimuli such as advertising. The real question is whether the emotional response you are aiming to stimulate is appropriate for what you are selling. Furthermore, are you creating the emotional response that you are intending?

To summarise. What emotion are you trying to stimulate, in what context and is it evoking that response?


Does joy marketing work?

Establishing a deeper, emotional bond with customers yields results. In fact, a study in the Harvard Business Review found that emotional connection can increase revenue by 3-5% per annum. This is not specific to the emotion of ‘joy’ or happiness. Here lies the truth. Moving someone from an unknown emotional state at an unknown level of activation to a single, high activation positive valence is not easy. If, for example, a potential customer watches an advertisement and is already in a positive mood, does trying to create joy make a difference? It may not be memorable.

Furthermore, if the user already loves (i.e. feels a positive emotional connection) a product they buy and use regularly, is joy marketing going to make them consider changing their behaviour? The brain is habitual and avoids having to think too much. Finally, if the user is upset, is the emotional bridge too far from sadness to joy in the time to view an ad? It is perhaps unrealistic to suggest that joy marketing can work miracles.

Ultimately, many ad agencies believe that they have the ‘secret sauce’ i.e. add the word ‘feel’ and a smiling character. But, is it really that simple? Is emotional and physiological response just common sense and predictable? If it was, the fields of psychology and neuroscience wouldn’t exist. These disciplines spend untold effort to understand the human nervous system. Scientists continue to learn about the complexities and intricacies of the human brain and how it influences behaviour – and their work is far from over. If they don’t understand it fully, what hope does an ad agency have? In all likelihood, they have creative talent and a sense of what gets attention. This is no disrespect to ad agencies that deliver some incredibly impressive and imaginative creative.


Emotional marketing research techniques

At this point, we have established what joy marketing is and some clear similarities between joy marketing and emotional marketing. We have also established that there is no ‘secret sauce’ to creating an ad that generates the exact response we want in every user. As with most advertising, we tend to celebrate the ads that worked, not those that fell flat. Unfortunately, the way we measure what ‘works’ is also unclear when one considers a percentage increase in site visits and another links total annual revenue growth to one campaign. What we do know for sure is that emotions vary. They also vary by person based on their own, personal context.

Thanks to pioneering neuroscientists and advances in technology, we now have some pretty handy tools to predict or measure emotions. Want to study emotional response while people watch your ad? Yes, that is possible. Need to predict how people will respond to your initial designs? Yes, that is also possible. Seek to benchmark your emotional impact versus your competitors? Yes, we can do that too. We don’t rely on secret sauces or black magic, just good old-fashioned science. This is one of the reasons we exist as a consultancy.


Think beyond emotional gambles

We are a management consultancy serving both B2B and B2C private sector businesses. Our services were created from customer demand and business networking. With business, finance and marketing consultants and two trained neuroscientists, we do things based on science and data. We offer neuromarketing research services to increase the success of campaigns. Just remember that one campaign isn’t going to change your fortunes overnight, especially if not everyone loves your brand or your products or had a poor experience (we help with that too).

If you would like to find out more, just email us at

Alternatively, why not call us on 01565 632206 or simply ask us to call you back.

Finally, check out some of our other articles and insights on research.