Here’s a quote for you: “If you don’t have a handle on the emotional side of the engagement with your brand, you might as well spend your marketing budget on coupons.” Don’t believe that? This year, in a study of nearly 600 products and services, found that many of those products and services, which consumers used to think of as ‘brands,’ are now regarded as comparable in all key attributes that drive purchase.

It showed up in a lot of categories, mostly CPG, where the importance of emotional brand value has decreased significantly or disappeared entirely. Product evaluations by the brands’ own customers were found to be statistically identical, meaning the products were essentially seen to be interchangeable.

Advertising and promotion can help to drive consumer behavior, of course, but no matter how entertaining the ad, it’s extraordinarily less powerful than being able to leverage emotional aspects of the products themselves. If all you stand for is ‘shampoo,’ you’re a ‘placeholder,’ a name people know but don’t know for anything outside being in the category and, thus, absolutely no (brand) advantage in the marketplace.

Along those lines, it was reported yesterday that P&G indicated that profits would fall more than anticipated, and with its shares down as much as 6%, analysts are asking why the company hasn’t posted better sales growth after more than a year into its promised turnaround.

That, of course, was Wall Street talking. But if you had talked to Main Street (the way we did – via emotionally-based engagement metrics) we could have told them you don’t build your brand or your market share on constant low-lower-lowest pricing strategies, on-going promotions, and the promise of innovation, and expect your offering to be seen as different or better than the competition – who’s doing precisely the same thing.

There was a time mid-last century when the brand engagement ratio that drove sales was more rational than emotional. As brands are finding out – some to their advantage, but many to their detriment – it just doesn’t work that way anymore.