Ideal Product Features: Emotional or Rational ?

From my observations and analysis I have found that any decision by a buyer (consumer) to buy a product or service is based upon either of the two choices:

1. A Rational process of elimination:

Where in the buyer will compare products based on price, features, benefits…. and then make a decision on whether to buy the product or the service. Bottom line is it is harder to sell when there is intense competition as products have to meet or beat the nearest rival on a lot of fronts.

2. An Emotional appeal.

When a product or service strikes an emotional appeal with a buyer, be it because of the look & feel, appearance, brand name, or pride of ownership, the products are easy to sell . However it is also much more difficult to create an emotional connection with the buyer. Quite often products in this category sell even though they may lack the features or benefits that other rivals can offer.


Applying this concept, we can evaluate various products available today in the marketplace in terms of their appeal (Rational or Emotional) to prospective buyers.

An example of an exercise with different products picked at will shows the following attributes as judged by me. The same may yield different results depending on the perceived benefits by others.

Product Attributes
(Emotional / Rational )
Volvo iPhone Tiffany’s Safeway Bread
Elusiveness × × ×
Safety × ×
Luxury / High End ×
Pride of Ownership ×
Social Group / Class
Pricing × × ×
Features × × ×
Service & Support ×
Ease of Use × × ×
Warranty × ×
Reliability × ×
Cost of Ownership × ×

What then is an “IDEAL PRODUCT” that can appeal to both categories of buyers ?

An “IDEAL PRODUCT” has features that strike a balance by appealing to both the emotional and rational minded buyers.


This may help explain why products such as an iPhone, or a BMW command such a premium and enjoy a loyal customer base even though the competition (Nokia N95, Audi/Lexus) can offer much more for the same or better price.