KS&R Blogs


We have been wrestling with this question at KS&R for the past 18 months. Given the industry's shift towards 'empathy' and connecting with buyers (consumer or business) in a more real, authentic fashion... we believe this special, empathetic connection is ONLY achieved once you understand the buyer's emotional state.

The challenge has always been around the idea of actually measuring that emotional state. Up to this point, emotional measurement focused on electrodes, brainwaves, and eye flutters... maybe more appropriate for a Netflix espionage series than a market research setting (especially in the COVID-19 era, which makes much of those traditional tools irrelevant).

In trying to be good social scientists, we decided to run a few experiments around different survey measures and approaches to identify buyer emotion. We partnered with our friends at The Rational Heart (therationalheart.com) to investigate and conduct online research with a panel audience in the US. We created two unique approaches - one modeled after the System 1 philosophy and the other approach modeled after the System 2 philosophy.


In the System 1 approach - respondents are given a 'forced choice' between two emotions at a time and have to respond within 3 seconds (e.g., 'thinking fast'/instinct/intuitive, etc.). With the System 2 approach - we showed respondents four emotions and asked 'most and least' representative of that particular occasion (e.g., 'thinking slow'/more deliberate/reflective, etc.).

Nearly 2,000 consumers were asked to consider their emotional memory when making specific purchases:

  • cell phone
  • new vehicle
  • laptop
  • medical prescription
  • large home appliance
  • food delivery (e.g., Grubhub or similar)

What did we learn...?

  1. System 1 and System 2 approaches yield more similarities than differences (with a few interesting twists we outline in the main paper (see link above to read the detailed results)
  2. The medical prescription occasion stands out in stark emotional contrast to the relatively similar emotions recalled for each of the other 5 buying scenarios
  3. Emotional recall CAN be measured in a non-invasive format, using survey research tools

With these System 1 and System 2 survey approaches, we now feel even more prepared to tell the full customer story, and help our clients drive those meaningful customer engagements.

Mike Nash

Mike Nash

Mike thrives on delivering data-driven recommendations and action plans to solve complex business problems. His international research experiences and consultative engagements typically include a mix of qualitative and quantitative techniques. As a well-versed moderator, Mike is focused on better understanding the B2B decision making process - mostly among high tech, telecom, and professional service verticals. His thought leadership within the research industry often finds him speaking at events and conferences. Mike holds a Master's in Public Administration from Rockefeller College, State University of New York. Mike's out-of-office passions include global travel, improving his golf game, and sampling Syracuse's rising food scene - which is better than you might think!