Brand Love in Developing Countries

In June we asked our LinkedIn community to post questions that they may have about Lovemarks and its application as a marketing theory. We will be answering them in the following weeks and encourage you to send your responses, participate in the discussion and keep the conversation going with more questions.

Q: Does emotional branding work in third world markets or does it only exist in developed countries?

The question basically asks if the drivers behind purchasing behavior changes when “needs” are a higher priority than “wants.” Is a person with limited resources more likely to make a decision based on emotion than reason? Are these people more likely to prioritize price and value rather than buy something based on how it makes them feel?

Third world markets are defined as developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This chart on the minimum wage in 72 countries was released last year by the International Labour Organization. Looking at it you get an immediate sense of the disparity in earning power between countries like Luxembourg (where the minimum wage lists as US$4,089) and India (US$295). The minimum wage may be an indicator of how much people have to spend, but it is not a measure of aspirations, hopes and dreams.

The answer is that emotional branding works regardless of demographic or geography because emotion is intrinsic to what makes us human. The way that emotion is expressed may vary according to culture, but that does not detract from the fact that emotion leads to action. The question therefore should be reframed from “does emotional branding work” to “how can emotional branding be done successfully.”

A Lovemark company believes that the role of business is to make the world a better place. When translated to third world markets, this means that brands who want to be successful need to focus on offering “priceless value”, a concept described by Kevin Roberts as “uplifting life solutions tuned to how people are feeling, living, spending – and sharing.”


To create “priceless value”, a brand needs a high-level of intimate knowledge of the people, places and cultures it intends to speak to. This audience needs to be delighted, inspired, and connected to with the view that this relationship is an investment in the long-term. This approach, however, is not exclusive to developing countries. Many brands have had to adopt a similar approach due austere times. When employment is low and finance is tight, shoppers from London to Los Angeles to Lyon also have to deal with conflicts between “need” and “want.”

Emotional branding that is successful will benefit its audience in ways that live beyond the product and genuinely makes a positive impact on the lives of the people. It may translate into things like:

These are just some marketing approaches that brands have adopted in developing countries. All of them are emotional and exude a purpose that is beneficial to both company and consumer.