Ok I admit it. For the last 8 years or so, while we have languished in one of the deepest recessions in living memory, my passion, my driving force and my commercial raison-d’etre, has been bogged down left-field.
For over 20 years I have been quietly practicing and innovating, in the once arcane world of engaging consumers with brands by using multiple senses. Without wishing to sound immodest, I am a world-leader in this field. In truth this is an easy claim to make because not only was the sensory branding and marketing field over to the left (left-field), it was also rather a small field. I sometimes felt like a proverbial lone voice in the dessert, extoling the virtues of creating branded experiences which appeal to the emotionally driven senses like sound, smell and touch.
Don’t get me wrong, we have worked on some amazing projects, delivering real client value (doubling revenue and share value in one example) but the brands we have been working with were very much the early adopters.
But, like every innovator, our time will come. Every dog has it’s day. I think mine is on the way!
Two things are coming together to make me feel like an excited surfer about to pick up the biggest of waves and enjoy an amazing ride.
During the recession, there can be no doubt that marketing budgets were slashed. In April 2012 P&G alone announced a cut of $10 billion in its’ marketing spend over 5 years. Yes that’s ten Billion! This was mirrored by one consumer facing brand after another. But consumers kept buying. Especially for essentials like foods and personal care products. The result? Most brands have underinvested in recent years and are sitting on significant cash reserves. And as we come out of the recession there is a very real sense that they are starting to invest again. But where to focus this renewed investment? Where will they get the most bang for their buck?
The second positive factor in this resurgence of interest in sensory branding is the increased acceptance that the old “talk-at”, mass-market communication, TV advertising model no longer works. True, most of this budget has migrated into digital communications (which incidentally remains largely visually based and contributes to yet more visual overload) but there is a growing realisation that the brands that will succeed and grow the most in the new economy will find new and different ways to connect with and engage their customers.
And consumers are wising up.
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b055jgf7/watchdog-test-house-series-2-episode-9 – starting from 17 minutes into the program.
In this new world economy consumers want peer recommendation not corporate advocacy. They expect experiences not features and reasons. They act on emotions not rational.
A sensory approach to brand planning and product or service development leads to emotional brand experiences that everyone wants to share. Join the early adopters, don’t become a laggard.