Rational vs Emotional Appeals in Advertising

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In order to design advertising content, rational and emotional advertising appeals are very effective. In which case, you will use rational appeals and in which case emotional appeals. Read on to get the arguments on rational vs emotional appeals in advertising.  

Rational and Emotional Advertising Appeals

Marketing communication mix is all about communicating your products. Developing effective communication depends on understanding the target audience, determining the objective of the communication, designing the message, selecting the communication channel, and so on. Among these activities, the quality of content is the most important thing.

Designing the advertising content depends on other factors of marketing communication. However, one thing is a must – that is, keeping appeal in the content. Rational and emotional advertising appeals are the most used appeals in marketing. Both of those appeals have their own areas of dominance.

Rational Appeals in Advertising

What is Rational Appeal?

The rational appeal is informational in nature. To create rational appeal you need to show the features, (competitive) advantage, and benefits (FAB) of the product. Here the functionality and other practical aspects are communicated to sell the product.

When Rational Appeals Are Appropriate?

Rational appeals are effective in following cases:

  1. Industrial products: If the product is used for production, then rational appeal is the effective element in communication. For example, industrial machines. 
  2. Products having unique features: Some products have something unique to offer. Then marketing communication can highlight those unique features. For example, a steel manufacturer will boost its certification of durability.
  3. Business buyers: In most cases, purchase decisions in businesses are made based on the comparison of available options. There is no space for emotion here. For example, laptops sold for a company’s employees.
  4. Innovative product: Companies spend a huge amount on research and development. The innovation creates big differentiation in market attention. For example, Samsung promoted their foldable phones.
  5. Differentiating products: When the industry is not new, people are aware of the problem and the options (products) available in the market to solve their problem. Hence, we need to differentiate our product from many competitors. The rational appeal can be one of the ways to differentiate our products.
  6. In Action Phase of AIDA Model: In the first phases of the AIDA model, we need to get the attention of the target audience. In the end, when we need to influence a mature audience in taking purchase action, rational appeals help. In that phase, rational appeals support the audience to assure that they are taking the right decision in purchasing the product.

Rational Advertising Appeals Example

Product for which I would make rational appeal: ERP Software


  1. Businesses are the ideal customers for ERP software. Any company would compare other options before making a decision.
  2. ERP software is a big investment for any company. So, the company would take more time in judging the product-related facts.
  3. There are many ERP providers in the market. To differentiate our product from the companies, we need to highlight the uniqueness.
  4. Selling an ERP software requires several face-to-face discussions, demo sessions, and price negotiations. In each of these steps, the rational appeal will help in winning the deal.

Emotional Appeals in Advertising

What is Emotional Appeal?

Emotional appeal refers to the psychological aspects to sell a product. The most common types of emotional appeals are safety, security, fear, hope, love, prestige, nostalgia, etc.

When Emotional Appeals Are Appropriate?

Emotional appeals are effective in following cases:

  1. Beauty products: Here, the end consumers do not make a comparison sheet to buy everything. For example, cosmetics products.
  2. Convenience products: People spend the least amount of time buying convenience products. Therefore, any earlier exposer to emotional appeal helps the consumer to take immediate action. For example, purchasing soap at the grocery shop.
  3. Lack of Differentiation: When all the competitors are selling somewhat the same product features, then there is no option to differentiate in terms of facts. Then the product differentiates based on emotional appeals. For example, packaged rice sellers.
  4. In Attention Phase of AIDA Model: Emotion is a great tool to get attention and register the desired message in the mind of the audience.

Emotional Advertising Appeals Example

Product for which I would make emotional appeal: Beauty Soap.


  1. Beauty soap is a convenience product. People do not compare one brand with other options.
  2. The difference between regular soap and beauty soap is the emotional appeal to beauty-conscious people.
  3. There is no option to differentiate the product from competitors’ products in terms of rational aspects. So emotional appeal will help in positioning the brand.
  4. Celebrity endorsement will help in gaining the attention of the target audience. They will relate their admiration for the celebrity with the performance of the product.

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The rational and emotional advertising appeals are different, and they can be used in different cases. But, in many cases, those emotions are used in combination to get the best outcome. For example, the introductory presentation of ERP software can show the frustration of an entrepreneur in managing his/her business without ERP. Thus, both the rational benefits of ERP can be described with emotional aspects – success vs. failure or frustration vs. relaxed emotion of an entrepreneur.

Though there can be a debate on rational vs emotional appeals in advertising, the wise use of these two types of appeals brings the best result in marketing communication. Whatever you do, just never give up.

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Kalpataru Biswas

Kalpataru Biswas is a writer with a focus on business and career-related subjects. He has been writing for various websites since 2018 and has more than ten years of experience in driving revenue through data-driven Sales & Marketing.

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