The term “aspirational content” is one that is easily misunderstood. From the sound of it, you’d be forgiven for thinking that aspirational content would be reserved for brands whose customers aspire to wealth, social status or luxurious possessions. In fact, aspirational content can be used by any brand, and it can help you to sell more.

An aspiration is simply defined as a hope or ambition of achieving something.  Aspirations are not just passing desires, such as the urge to own the same sunglasses worn by a certain celebrity - they are much more powerful than that. Rather than being wishes to own expensive things or to be rich, aspirations can describe any heartfelt desire, for example to learn a language, improve your appearance or to be a good parent.  Underlying these aspirations, of course, are deeper motivations: to connect with people in other cultures, to be in a romantic relationship, to maintain a close relationship with your child etc. Aspirations are linked to our identities.  

Producing aspirational content is about more than just fact, it’s about telling a story. Instead of focussing on product benefits, the story describes the goal which the consumer aspires to reach and shows that they have the real potential to achieve that goal (through the use of the product in question). Whereas inspiration may be a fleeting interest, aspiration is about something inside yourself – something reachable.

What about brands whose products are rather practical, serving a need-based requirement rather than a higher goal or dream? It may not be immediately clear how products like simple breakfast foods or body odour products, for example, can go about creating aspirational content. In answer to this, the potential to use aspirational content for any product category has long been demonstrated by functional breakfast cereal brand Weetabix. Instead of relaying product features (low fat, low sugar, organic etc.), the famous “Have you had your Weetabix” campaign tells light-hearted stories of how the product sets the customer up for a good day ahead, helping them to access stores of inner strength when faced with difficult situations. The campaign, used as early as the 1950s and revived for 2017 with a £10 million investment, has resulted in a slogan so well known that it has entered the urban dictionary.

Similarly, deodorant brand Lynx enjoyed success with a long running “Lynx Effect” campaign, which (again, playfully) suggested that using the product would make customers irresistibly attractive to women. The brand has now taken a new direction with their “Find Your Magic” campaign, which is based around the aspiration to be comfortable in your own skin and proud of being a man: “Who needs a six pack when you have your own thing? No must-have, must-be, fashion norms or body standards. The most attractive man you can be is yourself. So find what makes you, you. Then work on it.”

Aspirational content speaks to feelings rather than needs, opening up the potential customer pool from those who are currently in the market for a certain product, to anybody who is capable of experiencing those feelings. Through the evocative words and compelling stories of aspirational content, brands create emotions which are fundamental to the decision making process. According to Psychology Today, “Functional MRI neuro-imagery shows that, when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features and facts).”  In fact, research by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio indicates that people who have lost the usual ability to feel emotions are still able to evaluate information regarding options, but are actually rendered unable to make any resulting decisions, because they have no feelings about the choices available to them.

When producing content, in addition to addressing customers’ logical need for information, consider your customers’ aspirations and how you can position your product as a means for them to reach a goal. For more ideas on how to achieve maximum impact with your content, drop us a line.

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When evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions
Antonio Damasio

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