Consumer Marketing: An Emotional Journey


Memories of family dinner evoke emotive responses from deli and prepared foods consumers.

The final installment of a 6-part series exploring Tyson Foods’ consumer research findings on the emotional significance of family dinners.

Human decision-making is almost always based on feelings and emotions. Not surprisingly, food marketers are increasingly using emotionally charged messaging to connect with shoppers, triggering purchases and loyalty behavior.  

Eating as a family around the dinner table is a universally emotional activity that offers retailers and suppliers a huge opportunity to appeal to consumer emotions in and out of the store, according Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods.

The company recently partnered with Syntegrate Consulting, a New York City-based strategic marketing firm, to conduct research that identified parents’ and children’s non-conscious emotional truths related to family dinner.

Also known as emotional triggers, emotional truths are a combination of beliefs and attitudes that prompt behavior. Triggers that stem from parents’ views on family bonding, protecting and preparing their kids, teaching life lessons and individuality, and achievement ultimately determine how often families eat together around the table, Tyson Foods’ research concluded.

“If we understand what those emotional truths are and we put them in our marketing creative, they will automatically register with mom, and she’ll never even know why. Emotional resonance wins attention,” explained Christopher Brace, founder and CEO of Syntegrate Consulting.

“In a campaign, for example, mom might see the visual of happy kids, a happy family and a strong family unit sitting around the table,” he continued. “We’ve just done the first thing we need to do—grab her attention. We have reminded her that the dinner table is the center of family unity.”

Tyson Foods’ research noted that parents often carry deep, emotional and lasting memories about having family dinners when they were kids, including all of the benefits of spending this time together. Dinnertime is also a good opportunity for parents to ask their kids questions, help them problem solve and show them they care. The table is a place where values and beliefs can be expressed and passed down to children.

From the children’s perspective, dinner is a comfort zone, a place where they can be themselves and find support from people they love and trust.

Awareness of parents’ and children’s emotional triggers is the all-important first step in helping retailers and suppliers capture more prepared foods deli dollars.

Tyson Foods’ research identified four primary communication paths that then may be used to capitalize on these emotional triggers. They include the Parents’ Perspective, the Kids’ Perspective, Overall Family Togetherness and the Parents’ Childhood Memories.

Ideally, marketing campaigns should use these communication paths to tell the story of specific emotional triggers with in- and out-of-store communications to build top-of-mind awareness of the deli and prepared foods departments for family dinner ideas.

“Retailers, being a source of information or a source of inspiration for family dinner time, can help disseminate information about the benefits of family dinner,” said Brace. “If we create messaging that resonates back to mom about the emotional benefits she is going to have tonight with her family around the dinner table, that will resonate with her because it is a truth she carries with her everywhere she goes.”


1. The Parents’ Perspective: Communicate the benefits parents feel dinnertime provides the family unit and their kids as individuals.
2. The Kids’ Perspective: Talk to the primary meal maker from the kid’s perspective and translate how children feel they, themselves, benefit from dinner with the family.
3. Overall Family Togetherness: Families connecting over various activities, particularly dinnertime.
4. Parents’ Childhood Memories: Connecting to parents’ memories of family dinnertime when they were young, which will spark the idea of doing it more often with their own kids.


  • Time around the table is time when memories are made.
  • Our children benefit from spending time with family.
  • Dinnertime is my chance to catch up and interact with my kids.
  • I am responsible for building a strong family unit.
  • I am responsible for providing my kids with a happy childhood.
  • I am responsible for helping my kids succeed in life.
  • I want to give my kids the ability to form their own opinions and ask questions.
  • My kids should know that I’m there for them as is the entire family.
  • Life is full of teachable moments.
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