The heart in organizational buying: marketers’ understanding of emotions and decision-making of buyers

Elyria A. Kemp (Department of Management and Marketing, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)
Aberdeen Leila Borders (Department of Marketing and Professional Sales, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA)
Nwamaka A. Anaza (Department of Marketing, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois, USA)
Wesley J. Johnston (Department of Marketing, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Publication date: 5 February 2018



Organizational buying behavior has often been treated as a rational activity, even though humans are involved in the decision-making. Human decision-making often includes a complex cadre of emotions and rationalizations. Subsequently, organizational buyers may not only be driven by logic, testing and facts, but also by emotions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role that emotions play in organizational buying behavior.


In-depth interviews were conducted with marketing decision-makers for one of the most valuable brands in the world. The role that emotions play in the behavior of organizational buyers is elucidated from the perspective of these marketing professionals.


Emotions are prevalent at all stages in the organizational decision-making process and various discrete emotions fuel action tendencies among buyers. Efforts are made by marketers to strategically manage the emotions buyers experience.

Practical implications

Although organizational buyers must see the functional value of a product or brand, companies need to consider ways in which brands can connect with buyers on an emotional and personal level.


This paper contributes to the literature by offering insights into which discrete or specific emotions are most prominent in organizational buying behavior and how the manifestation of these emotions impact decision-making at each stage in the buying cycle.



Kemp, E., Borders, A., Anaza, N. and Johnston, W. (2018), "The heart in organizational buying: marketers’ understanding of emotions and decision-making of buyers", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 19-28.

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