Brand loyalty is about connecting with your consumer. It’s about having a brand story that communicates the personality and values of your brand. It’s about delivering on your brand promise. It’s about the impression your brand leaves on your consumer. It’s about the emotional engagement which drives repeat purchase decisions. At the very core of it all, it’s the experience your consumer has with your brand that will motivate them to become a repeat consumer and eventually, a loyal consumer.
Knowing this, have you ever thought about how on a physical level, your consumer experiences your brand? Logically, if we understood all the different channels through which consumers experience our brand, our product, or our service, we would make sure we cover EVERY channel to make sure we have the MOST impact on our consumer’s experience with us. But do most businesses and marketers really do that?
There are five physical channels through which we humans experience the world in which we live – and you know already know this very well: it’s the five human senses. We experience things, places, people, and the world around us, through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. The five senses are also how your consumers experience your brand. Yet, the majority of marketing strategies and plans that are created are mainly focused on engaging only two of our senses – sight and sound. We forget that ALL of our senses are our pathways to our emotions. Perhaps sight and sound are the easiest to leverage to trigger emotion, which is why most businesses only focus on them.
As I completed writing my previous post about Kellogg Special K’s brand revitalization strategy, I remembered another significant investment Kellogg has made – an investment in the sound of their cereal. Kellogg believes that the crunching sound their cereal makes when it is chewed, is one of the reasons for the success of the brand. This is the reason that the sound of the cereal is strongly emphasized in many of the Cornflakes ads.
Sound is definitely important. If it wasn’t, the easily identifiable and unique crunch sound Kellogg created for its cornflakes wouldn’t have led the brand to become even more successful. Kellogg wouldn’t have hired a sound lab to create the Kellogg’s crunch, and they wouldn’t have made the investment to go as far as getting a patent for the “crunch”. In 2011, it was noted that 74% of modern consumers associate the word “crunch” with the Kellogg’s Company.
There are many ways to use auditory stimulus as a strategy to engage with the consumer – think of jingles and background music in commercials. It’s common. I particularly like the Kellogg example because it’s unique and I think it’s innovative. I wouldn’t be surprised if Doritos and Pringles probably use a similar strategy.
In a Millward Brown Case Study, researchers investigated how the brain processes physical marketing materials. The findings demonstrated that tangible advertising produces deeper engagement with the audience as it engages more senses. They noticed that brain activity was associated with the integration of senses that triggered stronger emotional responses by creating a deeper integration with personal thoughts and feelings.
Tangible advertising is appealing to the sense of sight and touch. As humans, we are wired to interpret the touch of everything around us. We communicate with each other through touch, whether we realize it or not. We feel more connected to someone if they touch us. In 2009, DePauw University psychologist Matthew Hertenstein demonstrated that we have an innate ability to decode emotions via touch. In a research experiment conducted in the late 70’s, clerks at a library returned library cards to students either with or without briefly touching the borrower’s hand – borrowers interviewed said that those who had been touched evaluated the clerk and the library a lot more favorably. The effect was true even when they hadn’t even noticed the touch. Further recent studies have found that slight touches to customers enable waitresses to receive bigger tips and because of a simple touch as a customer service gesture, people also tend to shop and buy more in stores.
What could this mean for your brand, in being able to connect with your consumer?
Touch is extremely important – think of Apple stores and how they happily allow customers to interact and ‘touch’ their products – and we all know how loyal most Apple consumers are. I can go on about the importance of touch forever and write a whole post on it – which I probably will – but you get the point.
Touch has the powerful ability to improve the desire to own a brand.
Then we have smell which is unique in its own way because smell sprouts memories and evokes feelings without first being filtered by the brain.
All of our other senses are processed by the brain first. We’re all emotionally sensitive to the smell of a new car, or the smell of rain, or freshly baked cookies. I can’t help but feel a craving for fresh-baked bread every time I walk by a bakery. I don’t know if that is the bakery’s strategy or not, it’s probably an accidental strategy, but it definitely works. In order to identify a smell, you must be able to recall when you smelled it before. That is when you connect it to a visual image that occurred at that same time. A familiar childhood perfume brings back memories from those days, and the feelings associated with that time. Some research shows that absorbing information in the presence of a scent increases the vividness and intensity of that information when you smell that scent again.
If your product or service can incorporate a smell as your consumer is absorbing your brand’s experience, how likely do you think your customer is to recall with complete vividness, the emotions they felt in your brand’s presence? If the emotions were pleasant, how much would they crave that experience with your brand again?
Building brands through leveraging all five senses is important and extremely beneficial. Not many companies have incorporated brand building strategies to appeal to all the senses. In some cases it calls for a lot of creativity and innovation. In other cases, it can be quite simple to do.
The brands that are succeeding today are taking into consideration how the consumer experiences their brand. At the end of the day it’s about consumer engagement. The more you can positively engage your consumer with your product and your brand through their different senses, the more easily your consumer will recall the feelings they felt with your brand when those senses are triggered again.