Sensory marketing: Harnessing the power of touch
A wealth of research has found a correlation between colour and texture – and anything that arouses the senses – and buyer behaviour. Here, we further investigate theories around consumer perceptions and decision-making, as well as discuss Celloglas’ recent collaboration with Print Power and Sappi Europe as we promote the benefits of print and sensory marketing.
Structured emboss, soft-touch laminate and CFS gunmetal foil.
Reach out and touch
Haptics is a term given to any information that reaches out to its audience via our sense of touch. Research has shown time and time again that some people have more of a need for touch than others – sensory (or tactile) marketing can be that crucial stepping stone that leads them to the purchase choices you want them to make.
Print is a haptic experience. This isn’t new insight but it begs the question: are brands doing enough to unleash the true power of this potentially thoroughly engaging medium? If it’s done well within marketing and advertising strategies, incorporating interactive elements that draw on all five basic human senses can enable brands to influence the way consumers think, feel and behave.
Via print media promoter Print Power and print advocacy group Two Sides, Celloglas was approached by leading global paper manufacturer Sappi with an invitation to create a selection of finishes for Reach out and touch: The joy of the physical in the digital age. The publication, which was co-produced by award-winning content creator John Brown, eloquently argues a case for print’s capability to excite and delight the senses in a way that no other medium can. Celloglas, Sappi and John Brown have a unified goal in their separate strands of business – to deliver more than materials but an unrivalled brand experience that demonstrates trust, quality and value.
High-build spot gloss and UV varnish.
As guest contributors provided comment and opinion as to why tactile marketing and multisensory packaging design should prevail, Celloglas finished each striking page. Using texture alongside other decorative finishes helps a printed product stand out and better demonstrate the point you’re trying to make. We opted to finish a page featuring a large image of an old, rough-looking wall and discussion around harnessing the power of touch in high-build spot rough matt and UV varnish. Meanwhile, the ‘Jif’ touch and sniff page was embossed and featured lemon fragrance varnish.
Structured emboss and lemon fragrance varnish.
Speaking to the senses
Sensory marketing is entirely psychological, reaching out to buyers’ emotions and feelings rather than rational data processing like traditional marketing methods do. It’s vital that brands connect with customers through more than simply the sense of sight. While sight might capture an audience’s attention initially, using tactics that arouse the other four senses supplements and strengthens that initial interaction. It shouldn’t come as a surprise how powerful the sense of touch can be. It’s the first of our senses to develop in the womb and used throughout our lifetime as effective non-verbal communication. But more than this, touch can be a powerful tool capable of instantly stirring up memories and other emotional experiences. For that reason, it’s immensely successful in influencing customer behaviour and brand perception – and many brands are coming to realise the importance of thinking beyond packaging’s look and focusing on how it feels to the touch.
Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, writes for Reach out and touch: “The aim is to create a signature sensory cue that distinguishes one brand from the next – think of the iconic shape of the Coca-Cola bottle, or the look and feel of the Jif lemon juice packaging – as well as enhancing the consumer’s experience of the product.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that people’s feelings about a given product are very often influenced by their response to the packaging.”
While sight can provoke an immediate response to packaging or printed materials, it can’t tap into our inner-most feelings as touch can. Touch is impacting and how we best engage with a product. Before online shopping, it was the main way we’d evaluate purchases and give feedback in product assessments. Since the rise of ecommerce, we likely base our purchase decisions on images, product information and customer reviews – and as a result, leave ourselves open to disappointment. But studies have found that using touch when making purchasing decisions leads to increased confidence, feelings of ownership and higher perceived value. The consumer is given little choice but to interact directly with the product and brand this is more likely to trigger ‘must-have’ purchase decisions.
Using touch as a marketing tool
According to RAMetrics data, which analyses UK newsbrand ads, 36% of newspaper readers have brand recognition after seeing a print ad, while only 16% have brand recognition after seeing a digital ad. And it would seem that flying in the face of naysayer ‘print is dead’ cries are a dozen reasons why, in actual fact, touching something tangible has never been more valued. Glossy magazines and vinyl are just a couple of examples of products whose touch and feel cannot translate online. Similarly, packaging designed to surprise or delight can result in a thrilling sensory experience for the consumer that in turn builds trust and brand loyalty.
Human senses play a crucial role in consumer behaviour and decision making – brands are missing out on a key opportunity if they’re not factoring sensory stimulation into their overarching marketing strategies. And this isn’t just a fad. Countless pieces of research have proved its worth and demonstrated how this type of marketing can lead to meaningful and long-term connections between brand and consumer.
Want to take a closer look at the Reach Out and Touch publication? Call us to receive a copy and gain insight into how printed materials and sensory marketing can tap into customers’ feelings and help to create lasting relationships.