This tweet is about politics, but it talks to a general trend.
Bert on the money again. pic.twitter.com/7VR8DkNx3w
— Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland) September 6, 2015
Trump is succeeding because of the feelings he evokes, not the arguments he makes. You could say the same about politicians like Nigel Farage and Nicola Sturgeon here in the UK, and US political strategist Ace Smith makes the same point in reverse when he says that Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush should take more risks to be more interesting.
It’s not just politics, it’s true for brands too. People want to buy from companies that ‘feel’ authentic, and feelings are evoked by emotions not rational argument.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one way of understanding this development. We’re all progressing towards the top of the pyramid and that means a shift from worrying about questions that can be answered rationally (what am I going to eat? will I be safe?) to focus on how we are feeling (do I belong? do I have self esteem? am I developing as an individual?).
Politicians and CEOs all need to be cognisant of this change. That isn’t to say rational analysis is redundant – policies and products still need to stand up to scrutiny, perhaps more now than ever – but the key point is that rational arguments alone are increasingly insufficient.