Intangibility in Marketing: Definition & Overview

Instructor: Tara Schofield
This lesson discusses the intangible aspect of marketing, including different types of motivators that influence buying decisions. Examples are given of how intangibles are effective in marketing.

Definition of Intangibility in Marketing

When marketing a product or service, there are many different approaches marketers can take to get the attention of the potential customer. Understanding intangibles in marketing is valuable in appealing to a person's emotional response. Intangibles are the beneficial elements that provide a personal connection to the product, such as making a person feel younger, helping a consumer feel more confident or happy, and feeling the thrill of success. The more intangible emotions the marketing appeals to, the more effective the marketing piece can be.

How to Use Intangibles in Marketing

There are four common types of intangibles in marketing: nostalgia, self-esteem, joy, and pain. These four aspects of intangible marketing rely heavily on emotions and moving the consumer to make a decision based on feelings.


Think about an ad that showed a person viewing a photograph of their children when they were young or a family member who has passed away. The music, mood, and lighting enhance the sentimental feelings within the ads, making them more real for the viewer. These types of ads evoke powerful feelings within the viewers and can create a desire for the product purely from those feelings. Using nostalgia in advertising is a powerful way to build need for a product without actually having anything to do with the features of the product.


An impactful form of marketing involves building the belief that using a product will make a person feel better about themselves. The weight loss industry is built on this premise. Consider how many ads show a before picture of a miserable, overweight person, followed up by an after shot of a person who is thin and happy. The perception is when a person buys the product or weight loss plan, they will be successful, confident, happy, thin, and fulfilled. Changing a person's emotional state is a very common and effective practice in marketing, as people want to feel better and will commit their money and resources to feeling better about themselves.


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