As our homes, offices and everyday objects increasingly become smooth, screen-based interfaces, there has been a shift towards brands that deliver more integrated, tactile sensations – a hyper-sensorial experience.
Printed books, often seen as a dying category under pressure from e-readers and digital formats, have seen a 2.4% increase in sales in the USA during 2014 (BookScan) as consumers look for the physical over the virtual.
In the quest to reconnect with our senses and renew our relationship with more tactile expressions, we’re seeking out hyper-sensorial environments that deliver a heightened emotional state. For example, the Dust store in Australia also seeks to create a more holistic brand engagement, by delivering a hyper-sensorial experience through sight, sound and smell – the aim is to engage with consumers on a more emotional level, which is crucial in building brand loyalty.
The need for more intense experiences is also driven by peoples desire to experience the extremes of not only sensation, but also emotion. The Project by Les Mills & Reebok is one such example of a sensory driven environment that delivers a more extreme, engaging experience through a combination of the senses.
As our digital existence continues to desensitise us, brands will increasingly look to more extreme ways of connecting with consumers on a sensorial level – whether that’s through their environment or by creating moments that trick the sense and fool the brain. The challenge for brands will be in creating experiences that are not only highly engaging, but also deliver an emotional connection that drives loyalty further exploration of the brand.
Drinks brands have been quick to innovate around multi-sensorial events, with Singletons and Johnnie Walker among those who’ve created activations that bring together their product with engaging sights, sounds and smells. This approach has spread beyond the spirits category, with The Auricle pairing sound with its art and wine list to deliver a holistic, sensorial experience that has an impact on product taste.
A hyper-sensorial approach means that brands can create sensory branding – an experiential expression that can have a powerful impact on consumers, as it taps into their emotional consciousness in a way that TV or print advertising can’t. Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky has already looked to create activations around this with its whisky-scented smart fabric, developed in conjunction with Scottish producer of heritage cloth, Harris Tweed Hebrides. By applying this fabric to packaging or POS, the brand is looking to connect with consumers in a new way through an authentic and sensorial expression.
For example, Hotel Café Royal is partnering with Parfums Givenchy to serve cocktails in honour of the fashion house’s new fragrance collection. This collaboration combines fashion, perfumers and drink mixology to create an experience that is as premium in its execution as it is immersive.
Hyper-sensorial is also addressing the consumer need for the unique and the unexpected – a delightful contrast to the predictability and lack of serendipity of our digital existence. By challenging our sense and using textures, sounds and smells to fool our brains, brands are creating theatre through unconventional means.
Chocolatexture by Nendo is a fine example of how designers and brands are looking to use hyper-sensorial methods to engage with consumers and create moments of experiential delight. The innovative combinations of shapes and textures create different taste sensations in the consumer’s mouths, despite the raw materials being the same.