The power of packaging

The impact of the sensory experience on consumers Consumers today have at their fingertips an endless array of products to […]

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The impact of the sensory experience on consumers

Consumers today have at their fingertips an endless array of products to choose from. One way in which consumers are making their choices when faced with such wide product ranges is the emotional connection they feel in response to a particular product.

Companies have been putting a lot of time and effort into research around how an emotional connection can be achieved through offering a sensory experience to the consumer – such as touch, smell and look.

The research has led to an uptake in the concept of ‘sensory branding’, as a way of enhancing a business’ brand, increasing sales and building brand loyalty.

The power of the sensory experience

The advantage of using the sensory experience in product marketing is that in contrast to visual or verbal advertising, the sensory experience is unconscious and not obvious to the consumer. They would probably struggle to explain to someone their decision-making process in selecting a product if it is made on a sensory level. It is a much more natural experience and interaction for the consumer. Whereas advertising is more blatant and the consumer is consciously aware of the fact that they are being marketed to.

Where does the sensory experience begin?

The opportunity to strike up an emotional connection between a product and the consumer really begins before they even get to see, touch and feel the actual product. The first physical interaction a consumer has with the product is at the packaging point. The first touch a consumer gets of your product, before they even make a decision about whether to purchase it or not, is when it is on the shelf, packaged.

So in branding and promoting a product, businesses need to place a great deal of emphasis on the sensory experience offered by the packaging.

The power of touch

Many businesses only consider product packaging from a practical perspective – product protection, dispensing and shipping.

However, think for a moment about the experience of buying your simple daily take-away coffee. Of course, there’s the aroma sensory experience, but what about the less obvious touch sensory experience? How does the paper cup feel in your hand? Is it soft and smooth to touch? Is it just thick enough that you can feel the warmth of the coffee without it being too hot to hold? Does the shape fit snuggly into your hand? Does it feel like it’s offering the same premium coffee experience that you would have if you sat down for a coffee in a mug or glass?

Now you can start to see the power of touch in the sensory experience and emotional connection of the consumer to a product, even before they consume or open what’s inside. Then you can view packaging as not only a practical component of your product, but also an integral part of your branding and brand loyalty.

Product packaging investments

In recognition of the influence of emotional and subconscious variables in consumer decisions, many packaging companies have invested in researching and developing packaging solutions that appeal to the senses of consumers.

Recently, these companies have made new innovations in materials and packaging that emphasises less what it says and more what it feels like and the emotional experience it provides the consumer. This has included crossing the border into real experiences such as softer touch materials, antibacterial films, aroma films, and more, that can create a sensory experience and emotional connection with the consumer.

Jet Technologies innovations

Jet Technologies and its partners have invested in researching and analysing the emotional impact, positive emotion and influence of the packaging sensory experience in the purchasing decisions of consumers.

Recently our partner Derprosa looked at whether tactile product packaging finishes are chosen by consumers and increase product sales. The research focused on their Soft Touch laminating film, with a soft feel and a velvet effect, which is used for both the packaging sector and graphic arts in general.

The research found that with a choice between two products, one of which is covered by the Soft Touch and another film without, it produces 275 percent more emotional intensity, and 247 percent more positive emotions in the participants when handling product which is coated with Soft Touch.

Seventy percent of the test participants said when making a purchase decision, they would choose the films-coated with Soft Touch, compared to 30 percent who would choose the ones without.

It was also found that 73% of the participants found Soft Touch more enjoyable by touch and 71% by sight.

The evidence is clear

Clearly, the research shows that there is a marked difference in the emotional response of consumers to products that offer a deeper sensory experience via packaging. While many businesses are very familiar with the concept of visual branding, this is only part of the sensory experience of a brand and attention also needs to be paid to other sensory aspects such as touch and feel.

Matt Vaughn

Guest Blogger: Matt Vaughn

Matt Vaughn is Marketing Manager at Jet Technologies; a specialist distributor of products to the rigid and flexible packaging industry, the industrial manufacturing industry and the print and finishing industry.