The Emotional Algorithm: Zenapse Deepens Our Understanding of Customers

The Emotional Algorithm: Zenapse Deepens Our Understanding of Customers

From left to right: Steve Kandetzke (Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer), Maggie Evans (VP), Matthew Bernardini (Founder, President and CEO), Josh Goldberg (EVP).

What drives a consumer to make a purchase?

This age-old question continues to challenge businesses that rely on historical sales data, demographic information, and customer surveys to predict buying behaviors. Despite these efforts, accurately measuring what influences consumer choices remains elusive. Why? According to reports, a staggering 95% of all purchase decisions are made subconsciously, often leaving brands — and even customers themselves — in the dark about the real reasons behind choosing one product over another.

Enter Zenapse, a company shedding light on the role emotions play in consumer decision-making through a blend of artificial intelligence and consumer psychographics. Zenapse has developed a ‘Large Emotion Model’ that processes emotions, beliefs, and sentiment from interactions with 175 million consumers across over 4.5 billion data points. The model provides companies with precise insights into which offers, imagery, messaging, or calls to action will resonate best with specific audience segments — significantly enhancing marketing effectiveness.

“Consumers make buying decisions with their hearts as much as with their minds. Addressing the emotional component really matters.” 

— Matthew Bernardini, Zenapse President & CEO

Zenapse’s approach has helped it garner notable clients such as Sam’s Club, Aeropostale, Prosper, and propelled the company to an $8 million seed investment.

Matthew Bernardini, President & CEO

A retailer can use Zenapse to tailor offers to consumers who have abandoned shopping carts. One group might receive messaging about a certain stylist recommending the product while another receives messaging about how the product is sustainably manufactured. Zenapse helps determine the right messaging to the right group because it understands the consumer’s particular situation and therefore how they are likely to react emotionally to one offer compared to another.

A large national retailer used Zenapse to determine which offers to send potential customers during the 2023 holiday season. The three-month campaign led to 23,600 net new customers, a 4.6% lift in conversion rate, and more than $820,000 in revenue lift via incremental online purchase transactions.

“Our data lets us understand consumer actions, feelings, and beliefs, enabling us to predict what matters to them,” Bernardini adds. “For marketers, this insight is essential.”

Accelerating Innovation with Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs

Zenapse is among nine startups that participated in the spring 2024 Vertical AI Accelerator from Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs. The program enabled Zenapse to collaborate closely with Comcast leaders to explore potential partnerships.

According to Bernardini, the accelerator offered a unique opportunity to learn how tech teams at Comcast leverage AI. Also, Zenapse used the program to expand its understanding of AI applications within the content and communication realms after already developing robust backgrounds in retail, fashion, financial services, insurance, and other industry verticals.

“For us to continue to expand as we grow, we must understand how our model and AI work in a content and communication framework,” said Bernardini. “Exploring this new genre is crucial for our growth.”

Many Zenapse leaders have worked together for years and saw their companies acquired by larger enterprises. Now they are using their deep understanding of the pivotal role of emotions in consumer decision-making to develop an AI platform aiming to bridge the gap between brands and consumer perceptions.

As Zenapse continues to evolve, it hopes to continue refining its AI model to provide insights into consumer behavior, potentially integrating APIs into various software platforms used by businesses, from customer relationship management to marketing databases.

“By 2028, we aim to be a ubiquitous presence across all digital interfaces,” said Bernardini, “enhancing every interaction between companies and consumers.”