‘Emojis’ are shorthand communication tools that have been around for ages. The question is, do emoji’s have a place in Market Research? In our whitepaper we look at where emoji’s come from, the benefits and challenges and the value they add. It is becoming clear that emojis are becoming a part of business language, especially in marketing. Rather than fight the process, it may be best to embrace and understand the ever-changing world of emojis.


History of Emojis

Before emojis, there were emoticons (Long, 2000). Emoticons and emojis are very similar in that they both refer to images which represent a person’s emotions in a text format. The first use of emojis has been credited to Professor Scott Fahlman back in 1982. He posted on the local college bulletin that students should use the “:-)” emoticon.


Where do Emojis fit in research?

Market researchers, therefore have taken advantage of the opportunity to use visual communication to deepen the insights gathered during studies.

Images have long been included in research, for instance the paediatric pain questionnaire uses emojis to help children identify where their pain lies and to express the intensity of the pain they are feeling.

Benefits of Emojis

  • Emojis are more humanised.
  • Emojis can help with understanding.
  • Can facilitate the customers decision making process.
  • Emojis make surveys more appealing to the younger demographic.
  • Emojis make surveys easier to answer.

Challenges of using Emojis

  • Emojis are seen as less professional by some.
  • The emotive nature of emojis can potentially influence responses and lead to respondent bias.
  • Colours have a clear psychological influence.
  • Emojis indicate a specific emotional state.
  • Emojis are interpreted to mean different things by different people or in different contexts



We found that Emoji’s are more complicated than simply sending pictures in chat, it has created and entire language of its own beyond just what the emoji may show but what it has come to represent. When executed with finesse and successfully, emojis can improve customer engagement. When it comes to market research, emojis may be used by converting survey scales and question response options to emojis to better capture emotional responses.


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