Here in the US, we’re gearing up to celebrate July 4, the day that everyone knows signifies America’s independence. But most people don’t know that the 1776 congress didn’t actually declare American independence on July 4. This date didn’t mark the start or end of the American Revolution. America’s Declaration of Independence wasn't even written, signed, or delivered to Great Britain on July 4.

We celebrate July 4 in the name of tradition — and we defer to assumptions rather than unearthing the true story. But when we dive a level deeper and look beyond the surface, we gain new depths of insight. When it comes to understanding customers, it’s time to take a deeper look.

The role of emotion is one of these “unknowns” in consumer behavior: An incisive view into consumer behavior reveals that emotion is more powerful than commonly thought. More than a mood, emotion is a key driver of customer decisions, actions, and perceived experiences —and pervades each stage of the purchase life cycle. For example, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that Etsy inspires extremely positive consumer sentiment before, during, and after making a purchase: 

The highly intense, positive sentiment that characterizes Etsy’s customer experience drives the brand into the top 15 highest-scoring companies in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). Other leading brands in the CX Index also leverage a keen understanding of customer emotions to elicit positive sentiments that drive loyalty and advocacy. I recently spoke about these brands in my keynote speech at Forrester’s CX East Forum and published further research in a recent report.

Some companies already include emotion in their brand proposition. As Melody Lee, Director of Brand Strategy at Cadillac, stated at the recent CX Forum, “True brands speak to a mindset, not a demographic.” And, fellow Forum speaker Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels, asserted, “You cannot disrupt an industry unless your customers are aligned with your values.” Challenging assumptions and fine-tuning emotional insight opens the door to a new standard of customer engagement.

When insights professionals sharpen their critical focus and look beyond traditional consumer demographics and self-reported attitudes, they achieve a deeper level of customer understanding. And when insights professionals turn the spotlight on consumer emotions, they set the stage for more valuable and innovative customer experiences.

By the way – congress did officially adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and as history tells us, embracing a new mindset is the first step to success. Happy Fourth of July!