Negative Emotions Can Increase Sales Just as Much as Positive Ones

negative emotions increase

If you sell products online, you want to make your products appealing. But instead of focusing on the product itself, most businesses would be better served thinking more about their customers.

More specifically, how does the product or website make customers feel? People are emotional creatures. And those emotions have a definite impact on consumer behavior.

So instead of just making your products appealing, think about what emotions you want to evoke from shoppers. And more importantly, think about why those emotions might be able to convert sales.

This last point is important because sometimes we are under the mistaken belief that only evoking positive emotions from our customers could possibly drive sales. But negative emotions can be just as powerful, if you evoke them for the right reasons.

Neil Patel explained this important distinction in a post on Forbes:

“If a user is angry, because the website is ugly, then he may not convert. The object of his anger is the website. This ruins conversions. But if a user is angry, because the website is informing him about the atrocities of animal cruelty, then he probably will convert, and find out more information regarding how he can contribute to a good cause.”

Getting your customer to feel any emotion is a step in the right direction. You certainly don’t want people to visit your website and simply not care at all. But you should also be very deliberately trying to create an experience that evokes a specific emotion for a specific reason.

Negative emotions like confusion about the checkout process, for example, can ruin conversions. But an emotion like curiosity, on the other hand, can motivate consumers to visit your website in the first place. So it’s important to consider the emotions your customers are feeling throughout each step in the buying process. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider how you want the buying experience to go and how you want customers to feel about it. Then create that experience for them.

Negative emotions photo via Shutterstock


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

9 Reactions
  1. (nods) So it depends on the kind of negative emotion.

    Would you say you can also present a negative situation, but nurture a positive emotion?

  2. That’s because some people identify with negative emotions. It is not like you want to elicit these emotions. You just want to identify with the consumer and somehow touch their hearts.

    • I think in some cases you do want to elicit those emotions, if it is a situation where those emotions can help you get through to people.

  3. Great post and one that could spawn multiple followup posts. Emotion moves people to action and then they use logic to justify their emotions.

    • Yeah, I think there are a lot of different ways people can use emotions to sell an experience. And then there are a lot of different ways those emotions can affect people’s behavior.

  4. This is good advice. People should know, however, the type of products you sell can make it easier or harder to create emotional advertisement materials. For instance, selling baby or pet supplies allows more avenues to create positive or negative emotions. Yet, selling products like say, office supplies or packaging material will give a bigger challenge when trying to stoke a consumers emotions. I’m not saying its impossible, but it can be more challenging depending on what you sell.

    • That is a good point. There are a lot of products out there that are more practical than emotional. So this post might not really apply to those companies, unless they can come up with a really creative way to portray their products.

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