Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

Sept. 13: CMU Professors Release New Book Focusing on the "Science of Product Emotions"

Contacts:  Mark Burd / 412-268-3486 /
                Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /

Carnegie Mellon Professors Release New Book
Focusing on the “Science of Product Emotions”

Cross-Campus Research and Collaboration Demonstrate
How Product Emotions Can Translate Into Marketplace Success

BuiltToLoveAuthorsPITTSBURGH—Some companies seem to possess an uncanny ability to introduce products and services that can generate a firestorm of excitement into the marketplace and captivate customers — resulting in unparalleled success, profits, and a growing and loyal customer base. Is it just luck? Not according to Carnegie Mellon University professors Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan. Their latest book, “Built to Love: Creating Products that Captivate Customers,” examines how product emotions correlate to market success and explains how companies can, through their products, instill desired emotions into their customers.

There is a science to emotions, and Boatwright and Cagan have developed a method for infusing emotions into virtually any type of product or service. They identified 16 pairs of positive and negative emotions that are relevant to product development. These emotions are incorporated into an “eMap” (emotion strategy map), which is explained in the book, that lets product developers plot out the desired level of each emotion so they can incorporate them into the product’s features and functions.
“When you think of a product you love, the emotions it evokes in you are what really grabs you,” said Boatwright, associate professor of marketing at the Tepper School of Business. “Given comparable quality standards, performance and function, two competing products do not always stand as equal in today’s marketplace. The difference is emotions. Unfortunately, companies often miss this concept in their innovation processes, which has led to the diminished success, or outright failure, of many products and services that functionally perform quite well.”
Emotion is the key reason that people willingly and openly share their love, and sometimes distain, for particular products and services. Independent from functionality, it is what convinces consumers whether or not to pay a premium price, or to wait hours in line to buy concert tickets or the “newest and greatest” phone, game or electronic device. Traditionally, advertising has been used to create emotional associations with products, but Boatwright and Cagan show how this is changing as companies recognize how to offer a more authentic expression of emotion directly through their products and services.
“In an era of expanding social networking, product emotions are more important that ever in determining success in the marketplace,” said Cagan, the George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering. “Consumers are looking for information on products and services from ‘third-party’ sources through social communication channels such as word-of-mouth, blogs, online reviews, tweets, and Facebook posts. And what makes people talk about products, whether online or offline, is product emotions. That is part of why companies that do better at creating ‘high-emotions’ perform dramatically better in the marketplace.”
Based on consumers’ emotional response to companies and their products, the professors studied a wide spectrum of companies, identifying “high-emotion” firms and creating an index for their stock performance. For the 10-year period ending at the time of their initial study (July 2007), the high-emotions firm index had returns exceeding 1000 percent, compared to less than 100 percent for standard market indices. During the current recession they also found that the “high-emotion” firm index, although initially declining with the market as a whole, rebounded more quickly than market indices and has recovered to its pre-recession value.
“Built to Love: Creating Products that Captivate Customers,” published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, is available in stores and online bookstores. For more information about this book and retail outlets please visit its website,, blog,, or Facebook page,


Pictured above are CMU professors Peter Boatwright (left) and Jonathan Cagan.