Lush Sleepy: emotive content ensnares sleep-deprived parents

Anyone who’s had a baby knows all about the lengthy slog of night feeds, teething meltdowns, sleep regressions, and separation anxiety. Put simply, all parents have felt some form of sleep deprivation, at some point. And with the global baby product market generating close to 11 billion U.S dollars in revenue a year (Grand View Research), a captive audience awaits any smart business.

Any good marketer will tell you that to create a successful campaign you must evoke emotion within your audience. If emotions fall within certain criteria on the Valence-Arousal-Dominance (VAD) model – an emotional categorisation scale used in psychology – the likelihood of your content going viral increases.

Each individual emotion is a combination of three characteristics:

  1. Valence is the positivity (e.g. happiness) or negativity (e.g. fear) of an emotion.
  2. Arousal ranges from excitement to relaxation. Anger is a high-arousal emotion while sadness is low arousal.
  3. Dominance ranges from submission to feeling in control. Fear is low-dominance; an emotion a person has more choice over, such as admiration, is high-dominance.

One of the key findings from the VAD model study saw that social sharing was very connected to feelings of high dominance, where the reader or viewer feels in control, such as inspiration or admiration. This explains why your Facebook newsfeed may be flooded by friends sharing feel-good stories.

So, when a sleep-deprived mum from Essex appeared on the Daily Mail website claiming that an £8 bottle of lotion she’d bought from Lush helped her baby daughter get a full 14-hours sleep, the rest was history.

The story did the rounds appearing on popular parenting sites like Mumsnet and Made for Mums, not to mention its appearance on the Mail Online, Mirror, and the Metro with headlines like ‘£8 body lotion that insomniacs swear by’ and ‘Miracle body lotion’. The coverage really pulled on the emotions of over-tired, somewhat desperate parents, clutching at straws for a ‘miracle cure’ to end sleepless nights.

One Reddit user even claimed that the lotion had been the most effective treatment in weakening the severity of her chronic pain and subsequent insomnia, writing an impassioned post which gained plenty of momentum.

According to Natasha Ritz, Brand Communications Manager at Lush Cosmetics for Australia and New Zealand, Lush spends nothing on advertising, “Lush has a ‘no global advertising’ policy. So every piece of content that we put out does not have the opportunity to have money put behind it,”. This reflects the key to Lush’s brand identity: authenticity.

But what do we marketers and business owners know about viral content? With no TV advertising, no digital advertising, in fact, with no advertising budget behind it whatsoever, Lush seems to have hit the jackpot with a cost-free, viral campaign.

However, Jonah Berger, viral marketing expert and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, sums up the ‘secret’ behind viral content marketing success when he says, “Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even’’

This is why in this day and age, it is vital to know your audience and how to engage with them through creating products that meet a demand. We know that when a product is placed or positioned in front of people whose emotions it will play on it can be shared thousands and thousands of times, and in no time at all. And it was by targeting those emotional connections in the beginning that enabled Lush to do just that, for seemingly little effort.

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Written byTony Conte

Founder and Owner of Brave Agency, an Integrated Agency transforming businesses through design, digital and marketing, helping you, our clients to get results by applying the right strategy.

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