Why empathy needs to be at the centre of marketing

Guest Column: Shefali Khalsa, Head - Brand and Corporate Communications, SBI General Insurance, writes how the recent COVID-19 situation has brought a new perspective of ‘empathy-based marketing’

e4m by Shefali Khalsa
Updated: Oct 21, 2020 3:20 PM

As a matter of fact, all human beings are driven by emotions. We make each choice somatically. As a brand, we may not be able to perceive the need of the customer from the same lens as customers. That is precisely the reason for brands to understand their customer’s emotional motivators, and thereby help them at each step of buying journey.

While most of the brands have been strategizing and executing ‘customer-centric campaigns, the recent COVID-19 situation has brought a new perspective of ‘empathy-based marketing’. Largely speaking, it is about walking in your customer’s shoes to understand their experience and how we can help them better. However, let us be mindfully, empathy is not sympathy. Which means, the brands need to “Be the customer” and not “Think like a customer”.  One of the core drivers to weave empathy is to engage with customers.

The crisis has also changed the habits of most consumers. According to the Hammerkopf Consumer Snapshot Survey conducted, first week of lockdown, Indians spent more than four hours every day on social media. This is an 87 per cent increase from a week before lockdown. Most brands have, therefore, channelised their energies to being creative on social media through quarantine activities and challenges and digital marketing as most customers seek a value addition to enrich their lives. The campaigns on social media were largely ideated to engage the customers, which was also intended to ease out the anxiety of corona crisis.


How to incorporate empathy in your marketing campaigns: 

  • Understand the need of the customers
  • Help your customers solve the problem statement (need is the problem statement for customer for which he/she is exploring solutions from your brand)
  • Understand the behaviour of the customers
  • Enable motivators that can influence customer behaviour
  • Provide useful /relevant information
  • Make it more relatable


Brand should keep a constant check on the ground reality by means of: 

  • Surveys 
  • CSATs 

  • Focused Group Discussions

  • Try A/B testing before launch of campaign


It has been observed that even a simple language of transactional email communication can make a huge difference. For example, “You are just a few steps away from completing the journey” vs “We noticed that you started the buying journey but were not able to finish”. Here as we see there is a significant difference in the tone – controlling vs empathizing. In nutshell, with empathy being the centre of your marketing pitch, you are helping the customer to buy instead of selling the product / service.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube