The mechanics of how we translate an array of inputs into such nuanced emotions and motivations are complex and still being revealed. What we do know is that the insular cortex plays a leading role.
The insular is a part (two parts) of our brain that helps to create subjective feelings based on assessing information from receptors in our skin and organs. The insular does not control what type of emotion we feel buts does seem to control the intensity of that feeling. While this discovery opens up a wide variety of areas for exploration it is in the, perhaps surprising, area of targeting future brand ambassadors that I will focus my hypothesis.
Among the many fascinating features of the insular is that once it’s been activated in creating an intensity of feeling, that pathway remains open – even if the nature of that feeling changes. If your emotion changes from loathing to lust or love to hate, you will still feel the emotion as intensely. You may feel the opposite way but the intensity will remain.
It may appear grossly counter-intuitive but if a brand is searching for passionate ambassadors and they have exhausted all the obvious behavioural signals, they may do well to target those who really hate their brand. The conversion process would be challenging and would require the careful and nuanced nudges but the prize is significant. Once converted, a brand would have new passionate advocates who would provide that much needed engine of growth… new customers.
In the end haters gonna love may be a new marketing mantra and one that drives us to more creative ways of acquiring new loyal customers. That is if the insular has anything to say about it.