Functional Marketing is the marketing of a product based on its features and functionality.

Functional marketing appeals to our intellect and works best when customers make intellectually driven purchase decisions based on careful thought rather than on emotion or gut feeling.

There are two ways in which we may purchase decisions: Intellectually and Emotionally.

With Intellectual purchase decision-making we make cool-headed decisions based on the features, the functionality, the value offered and the price of a product or service. We don’t let our decision get muddled by our emotions.

What is Functional Marketing?

Functional Marketing is a marketing technique in which we segment a market, target and position a product, develop promotional strategies, fix pricing and develop a brand based on the functions or features of a product rather than its emotional appeal.

So, the famous 7 Functions of Marketing are employed to create and promote value based on the functionality or feature-set of a product.

Functional Marketing Vs Emotional Marketing

Functional Marketing appeals to the head while Emotional Marketing appeals to the heart.

What exactly do we mean by that? Let’s look at some examples.

Functional Marketing

Let’s say you are in the market for an external hard disk, and you walk into a tech store to buy one. The store carries 20 varieties of external hard disks.

Functional Marketing - External-Hard-Disk
External Hard Disk
Ideal for Functional Marketing

Next to each disk is a placard with features like –

  • Brand Name
  • Digital Storage Capacity
  • Compatible Devices
  • HRD Disk Interface
  • Connectivity Technology
  • Form Factor
  • Transfer Speeds
  • Price

How do you make your purchase?

You compare the features and functionality of each disk against its price and against your budget. And then after careful thought you pick the one that has the best features and functionality in your pride range.

All else being equal, you might pick a hard disk that looks better than another, but no one tries to market a hard disk to you based solely on emotions.

Your purchase decision is purely a cerebral one and Functional Marketing techniques work the best.

Emotional Marketing

Emotional Marketing appeals to our emotions, stimulates them and creates desires intended to convert us into paying customers.

As humans we make more decisions based on our emotions rather than on rational thoughts. Emotional Marketing exploits this human character.

When should you use Functional Marketing?

When purchase decisions are made intellectually rather than emotionally

When you know that your customer’s make rational purchase decisions based on their intellect rather than based on emotion, an appeal to their emotions could backfire.

As we saw above, an emotional appeal to purchase an external hard disk is quite unlikely to work. So, when purchase decisions are made intellectually based on a pure comparison of product features, a Functional Marketing approach makes sense.

When your product’s features are vastly superior to those of your competitors

If you’re product offers the best features on the market and has vastly superior functionality than a competitor product then you should be touting these above all else.

Of course, if your customers make decisions based on emotions then you may want to consider a combined Functional-Emotional Marketing strategy.

Nonetheless, marketing strategy should hinge on Functional Marketing techniques to highlight your product’s superiority compared to your competitors.

When emotional marketing is unlikely to work

In many B2B settings emotional marketing will not work. Purchasing decisions are left to Procurement Departments where Procurement officers make thoroughly unemotional purchase decision sbased entirely on a product or service’s feature set and/or price.

Often in commercial purchase settings, vendors are required to submit anonymized bids to prevent decision makers from being influenced by their emotions and forcing them to make decisions solely based on what the vendor has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  1. With Functional Marketing we market a product based on its feature and functionality.

  2. With Emotional Marketing we appeal to people’s emotions to try and convert them into paying customers.

  3. Functional Marketing works best when customers make intellectually driven purchase decisions or when a product has functionality far superior to its competitors or when an emotional approach is likely to fail.