Businesses of all sizes like rational appeals to cut through the clutter around advertising and make a straightforward appeal to the conscious consumer. Is a rational ad appeal the right neuroscience marketing choice for your next ad creative? Learn ideal use cases for this type of advertising appeal and see successful examples of rational appeals in our next post on emotional advertising appeals.

What are Rational Appeals?

Rational appeals are common-sense appeals that aim to connect the product’s or service’s advantages and benefits with consumer needs. Instead of trying to use the product’s features to evoke a particular underlying emotion, like fear or desire, rational appeals use straightforward language, statistics, and other data points to speak to the real benefits of the product or service. Rational ad appeals often feature customer testimonials, facts, and product demonstrations to support their ad creatives. Since they are logic-based, they can be used to appeal to multiple consumer audiences at one time, thus extending the usefulness of an ad creative.

For businesses on a budget, it can be helpful to get the most mileage from an ad creative. For small businesses that have little brand recognition, rational appeals can help to promote their services against those from larger brands who enjoy greater marketplace recognition.

When to Use Rational Appeals?

Rational appeals work well in a range of cases, including:

  • During a recession or in times of economic uncertainly – In a recession, money is tight all around. By using a rational appeal to highlight the benefits of your product, you can entice reluctant consumers to buy by appealing to need not desire.
  • For common items – Rational appeals work well for common items that consumers know they need, but don’t have particular brand loyalty to. For household cleaning products, cookware, and even budget cars, rational appeals make sense. Customers want a simple solution that meets their needs and don’t necessarily care about buzz or upscale features.
  • For targeting budget-minded audiences – When you want to appeal to audiences who are on a budget, definitely do use rational appeals. They will entice savvy consumers who fear overspending to focus on the benefits of the products and not the price, earning you more sales.
  • For healthy products – As Gatorade’s Propel ad shows, rational appeals often make sense for items in the health and wellness niche. Consumers want straight talk around health and fitness. Brands who appeal to rational benefits and “truth in advertising” can create enduring loyalty from appreciative consumers.
  • Other companies who’ve successfully used rational ad appeals include Dove, which focused on the natural ingredients in their beauty product, and Bounty paper towels, which used product demonstrations to show how absorbent their paper towels were.

Typically, products marketed with a rational appeal are affordably priced, which also makes them attractive to consumers. After all, it would make little sense for a luxury automobile maker such as BMW to create a rational appeal for their cars. Such a campaign would not resonate well with their target audience.

Likewise, rational appeals do not work well when the product on offer is of subpar quality. Consumers want value and quality, even if they are on a budget. Trying to appeal to their rational side when your product is a knockoff can backfire.

If you want to try rational advertising, you must be honest about the product. Failure to disclose the pros and cons can lead to negative perception of your brand and your products in the marketplace, which will cost you sales in the long run.