Human beings have always relied on their senses to understand their surroundings, and take action according to their brain information processing. Even our nomad ancestors relied on their senses (in fact, they didn't have much more than that) to distinguish between a rotten and a fresh fruit, or between a piece of fresh meat left behind by a hunter or an animal killed by some disease.
Nowadays, consumers are not so different. Although they can be more sophisticated in the information processing, they still rely on their senses when it comes to get information for everything that surround them. In terms of brand/consumer communication, the process still runs like that; brands try to get consumers' attention by creating stimulus that consumers will note, process and react to.
This is, in fact, the basic idea about the cognitive process. According to the general description of cognition, individuals are exposed to many stimuli, which are received by our five senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste). These stimuli are transformed in sensations which go through a process of meaning attribution, ending up in our memory storage.
[...] There are many unexplored sensory stimuli in brand communication and brand identity building. 3. Brands need to explore several senses and various stimuli in order to create a positive and deeper consumer involvement – the multi‐sensorial experience. The paper will argue each of these assumptions, using several examples and data. The third assumption will be illustrated with the case of Air France. THE 2‐D EXPERIENCE IS OVER… The first argument to be explored is that brands are not used to develop communication strategies that involve more than one or two senses. It doesn't mean that consumers will not use Copyright © 2011 by Pedro Ferreira 2 Pedro o Ferreira Sen nsory Marketing: creatin ng the multi‐ ‐sensorial ex xperience more e than two se enses – because they will! It means that brands d don't think (a and act) on it t consc ciously or congruently. As it w was previously stated, a basic, but st till important t, principle applies: all information th hat consu umers get fro om the envir ronment com mes from the eir senses. Co onsumers ar re exposed to o thous sands of stim muli every da ay, which the ey process us sing their five e senses. Thus, if a brand d wants to communicate w with consum mers must un nderstand ho ow the perce eptual proces ss works. And must understand a and make an n effective us se of stimuli, in order to reach consumers' brain. also u In a s study by Millward Brown and M. Lind dstrom about t the use of s senses, published in BRA AND Sense e (2005), con nsumers wer re asked wha at senses the ey considered d more impo ortant when recog gnising brand ds. The follow wing chart sh hows the relative import tance given t to each of the five sense es. Sight is th he most impo ortant sense e (with 58%) followed by smell (45%), , sound (41% %, taste (31%) and touch (25%). The fi irst and obvious impression is that sight is, in fact t, the sense that umers value the most wh hen perceivin ng brands. H However we s should be ca areful with th his consu reading, because the relative importance given to the e five senses may be the result of the e amount of stimuli they receive. If cons sumers get t too many visual stimuli it t is natural to o think of tha at sense as the e most impo ortant one. In fact, it is w well known th hat brands' c communication is mostly y based on vis sual stimuli. When we co onsider the m most commo on communic cation strate egies used by y brands is eas sily seen that t the visual s stimuli are th he most common; just think of advert tising, packa aging, merchandising an nd so on... Sensory Im S mportance e 100 80 60 40 20 0 Tas ste Sight Sm mell Sou und Touch 31 58 45 41 25 Copyright © 2011 1 by Pedro Ferreira 3 Pedro o Ferreira Sen nsory Marketing: creatin ng the multi‐ ‐sensorial ex xperience And t the idea that t brands are wasting a lot of commun nication and consumer e engagement is reinfo orced when we look at th he next char rt. The same study presents a brand l loyalty impac ct score. Accor rding to this score the re esults are diff ferent from t the importan nce given to senses. In fa act, the most important s sense – sight – presents t the lowest sc core when it comes to br rand loyalty impact. This m means that o other stimulu us rather tha an visual stim mulus have a more profound impact i in engag ging consum mers and crea ating bonds. Loyalty Im L mpact Scor re 19 20 13 10 8 10 7 0 Taste Sme ell Soun nd Tou uch Sig ght Thus, , while most brands are s still playing t the 2‐D game e when it com mes to build and commu unicate their brand identity, by using mostly two senses, cons sumers seem m to play a m more different and sophi isticated gam me: the 3‐D a and upper di imensional g game. Accord dingly, if bran nds want to keep the pace, , they must u upgrade thei ir sensorial d dimensionalit ty, by incorp porating more sensory sti imulus. This leads to the s second assumption. AN A ALL NEW WO ORLD TO EXPLORE OR BU USINESS AS U USUAL? The s second assum mption relies s on the idea a that most b brands still ha ave a long w way to go whe en it come es to explore e the full pote ential of our senses. As s stated before e, the most c common use e of sense es is a two di imensional o one, that is, m most brands have not used more tha an two sense es; more eover, most u used senses are sight and d hearing. Ju ust think of advertising, e especially in tradit tional media a, such as TV, , radio, news spapers and magazines, t to get the picture. Copyright © 2011 1 by Pedro Ferreira 4 Pedro Ferreira Sensory Marketing: creating the multi‐sensorial experience Despite the reduced span of stimuli there are, however, very interesting examples of how to enhance brand exposure and some brands are innovating in the use of different stimuli. The main idea is that, on the one hand, there is still room for innovation and differentiation in the so‐called traditional senses, like sight, and on the other hand, there are many new and truly innovating ideas when it comes to associate unlikely senses to a brand's identity. SIGHT As was stated before, sight is the most used sense. This may be so, at least in part, because the eyes contain around 70% of our all the body's sensory receptors. The former Managing Director of Kinetic, a well known British communication agency, said that “content is not king if no‐one's looking”. In fact, if we think that the large majority of brand's communication is directed to our vision, the overwhelming use of sight has somewhat trivialized visual stimuli, making it difficult to find solutions that stand out and hold the attention of consumers. Think of advertising (online and off‐line), packaging, slogans, logos and so on, and visual stimuli are the king. Thus, even when using visual stimuli, brands need to do things differently. Coca‐cola is one of the brands that used the visual stimuli, in this case through packaging, to strengthen brand identity. Note that, we are talking about a soft‐drink, and the visual stimulus differentiates the brand from its competitors. SHAPE… Auckland, a New Zealand city, had a lot of accidents with pedestrians. The City Hall launched a campaign with the slogan “Don't step into danger” and they painted some really cool images in sidewalks using a 3‐dimensional effect. The expected result was to call pedestrians (and non‐ Copyright © 2011 by Pedro Ferreira 5 Pedro Ferreira Sensory Marketing: creating the multi‐sensorial experience pedestrians) attention, enhancing information retention, because the stimuli are new and unusual. DEPTH (3D)… Another interesting way of enhancing the use of sight is augmented reality. Augmented reality is a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real‐world environment object whose elements are augmented by computer‐generated sensory input. Several brands have been using augmented reality and MINI is a good example. When the Cooper Cabrio was launched in Germany they did an advertising campaign using augmented reality (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTYeuo6pIjY) Optical illusion is another almost unexplored visual stimulus. Copenhagen city zoo in Denmark launched a campaign to promote the zoo using a bus in a non‐fashion way. The following image is an example of a bus advertising the city zoo. Copyright © 2011 by Pedro Ferreira 6 Pedro Ferreira Sensory Marketing: creating the multi‐sensorial experience OPTICAL ILLUSION… HEARING Hearing is an interesting sense, because it is the only sense that doesn't need any kind of physical or visual contact with the object. Also, the hearing sense gives more information than just a sound: we are able to perceive volume, pitch (bass/treble), direction, distance and even movement. The use of music in stores is probably the most classical way of using sound to help create a specific store environment. There are thousands of brands that use music to promote specific consumers' emotions, attitudes and behaviours. Abercrombie and FitchTM uses loud upbeat music with a heavy bass and eliminates gaps between tracks, creating a youthful nightclub‐like atmosphere in its teen focused clothing shops. IBM launched its first silent typewriter in the 1970's. At the time this was a major breakthrough. Ironically, customers didn't like the silent and IBM was forced to add an electronic typewriter sound, the same sound they worked so hard to remove... This tells us an important message. Brands have to be very careful when it comes to manipulate (by adding, changing or removing) natural sensorial cues embedded in products. Many products can have their natural sounds that become part of brand identity. It's like eating a Camembert cheese that doesn't taste like cheese... Harley‐Davidson is quite the opposite. The famous motorcycle brand was aware of the special sound of their motorcycles. There is virtually any motorcycle fan that doesn't know the special Copyright © 2011 by Pedro Ferreira 7 Pedro Ferreira Sensory Marketing: creating the multi‐sensorial experience sound of a Harley‐Davidson motor roar. So they tried to patent its raucous roar, but without success. SMELL Scent has been shown to be a powerful sense when it comes to engage consumers, namely by increasing customer loyalty, increasing the perceived quality of products in scented stores, increasing the dwelling time of consumers in stores and increasing the likelihood consumers buy products. Regarding the impact of scent in buying behavior, the Smell and Taste Institute found in a study that 84% of respondents were more likely to buy a pair of Nike trainers in a scented room compared with a non scented room. This a controversial issue, because it is said that it can influence consumers in an unethical way. On the other hand, a distinct argument is that scent can provide a sense a well‐being and costumers stay more time in stores, which can enhance the probability of spending money. The sense of smell has been used in a variety of ways. However the most common strategies can be divided into three categories: 1) Product scenting (which is close to the olfactory logo concept) 2) Advertising scenting 3) Environmental scenting (this last category by far the most used) Back in the 80's, Disney was the first company to use scent with a purpose. They used scent to add “olfactory effects” to their thematic areas, such as creating the smell of fire and burn, or the smell of sea, for example. The experiences that followed were mainly directed at creating an overall sense of well‐being. The idea was to ensure that customers were feeling good, staying more time and/or ensuring a pleasant stay. Some examples can be found in a variety of businesses such as hotels, entertainment, automobile, and stores: The recently deceased Elizabeth Taylor was among the pioneers in the association of an olfactory logo to her name/brand. The perfume White Diamonds was launched in 1991 and remains a best‐ seller today1. As for other singers such as Beyonce or Rihanna, Lady Gaga will also launch its own perfume brand. However, the fragrance will be quite different from others, since the singer wants a perfume to smell like “blood and semen“ and will be launched in 2012 with the name 1 http://askthewhiffguys.com/category/scent‐marketing/ Copyright © 2011 by Pedro Ferreira 8 Pedro Ferreira Sensory Marketing: creating the multi‐sensorial experience “Monster”2. Strange as it may seem, this may be congruent with the image of the singer, or the brand values of the “product” represented by the pop singer. Another pop singer Katy Perry's new CD, launched in September 2010 had a little something extra because it smells like cotton candy. The scent of cotton candy was congruent with the cover (see next figure) and album name (Teenage Dream) creating an immediately association of two stimuli: sight and smell. And of course sound, once you hear the music. Olfactory logos... [...]
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