Anyone familiar with H&H Graphics will know that we’ve touted the value-add of special effects screen printing for the past 40 years as a way to create fun and unique engagement with consumers for retail packaging, POP displays, gift cards, book covers, direct mail, business cards, and just about anything else that can be printed.
Sometimes it can be challenging to explain why what we do is so powerful, so we thought we’d step aside and let you hear directly from the experts: researchers from all over the world that have studied why appealing to specific or multiple senses, beyond vision, creates such an emotional connection in people – especially touch and smell. Here are their findings.
Study Identifies Most Compelling Special Effects
A recent study by the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization (PRIMIR) surveyed 577 print service providers, print buyers and brand managers. Their mission was to investigate the impact of 23 printing special effects, including glitter, gloss & matte, scents, scratch-off, glow-in-the dark, and textures printed with UV coatings and other specialty inks.
Scented inks ranked the best for increasing profitability from all other value-adding printing techniques. Based on our 40 years of experience, we know that consumer scent recall is significantly greater than image recall, and certain scents can be used to evoke certain emotions in consumers, including safety, relaxation, attention, affluence, nostalgia, and openness. Specialty stocks and special effects coatings (textures) were not far behind.
Our sense of smell is the most direct human sense as it influences 75% of the emotions that we feel on any given day, which is why the use of scent in marketing is such an incredibly powerful and persuasive tool. According to Professor Charles Spence, head of Oxford’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, “The sense of smell has very strong links to emotional parts of the brain. There is also the Proust Phenomenon, which deals with how smells can take us back and remind us of things in a way that other senses just can’t do.”
According to Bob Yirka of MedicalXpress, “Most everyone has had the occasion of breathing in an odor and suddenly finding themselves lost in the reverie of a memory from long ago; the smell of fresh baked bread perhaps bringing back mornings at Grandma’s house…”
“Such odor/memory links are known as the ‘Proust Phenomenon’ in honor of Marcel Proust, the French writer who romanticized the memories evoked by the smell of a madeleine biscuit, which lies at the heart of his seven-volume novel, In Search of Lost Time and its theme of involuntary memory – an experience such as smell or a taste unexpectedly unlocks a past recollection.
The Endowment Effect
A recent study by Ohio State University suggests that just touching an item on a store shelf can create an attachment that makes you willing not only to buy it but also to pay more for it.
Previous studies have shown that many people begin to feel ownership of an item – that its “theirs” – before they even buy it. But this study is the first to show a sense of ownership feeling can begin in as little as 30 seconds after first touching an object.
Participants in the study were shown an inexpensive coffee mug, and were allowed to hold it either for 10 seconds or 30 seconds. They were then allowed to bid for the mug in either a closed (where bids could not be seen) or open (where they could be seen) auction. The participants were told the retail value of the mug before bidding began ($3.95 in the closed auction; $4.95 in the open auction).
The study found that on average, people who held the mug for longer bid more for it: $3.91 to $2.44 in the case of the open auction and $3.07 to $2.24 in the closed. In fact, people who held the mug for 30 seconds bid more than the retail price four out of seven times.
“The amazing part of this study is that people can become almost immediately attached to something as insignificant as a mug,” said study leader James Wolf, who began the work while he was a graduate student at Ohio State. “By simply touching the mug and feeling it in their hands, many people begin to feel like the mug is, in fact, their mug. Once they begin to feel it is theirs, they are willing to go to greater lengths to keep it.”
Neuroscience of Touch
As pointed out in the book, Neuroscience of Touch: Haptic Brain, Haptic Brand published by Sappi, “In a 2015 Eagleman Lab study, subjects read a company brochure on high quality coated paper, lower-grade uncoated paper, or online (Design was similar for all, and companies were randomly assigned a medium.) The study found that those who read on high quality paper understood and remembered the content best by significant margins. Companies presented on the coated paper left the best first impressions, and people were most likely to recommend those brands to friends. A week later, people still preferred the companies they read about on the high quality paper, with name recall for those brands highest by a factor of 3:1.”
According to AmsterBrand, “Most traditional feminine brands’ packaging feels silky smooth. Contrast that with the products aimed at men. The packaging is often highly texturized – rugged, feeling like it came out of a toolbox. Ask a guy to explain whether the packaging feels manly, and he’ll have a hard time making sense. But implicitly, the rugged texture makes the product feel just right as a male cosmetic.
“Many brands of natural chips are rising in popularity. One of their biggest challenges was to distance themselves from the not-so-healthy regular chips. The solution was elegantly simple. Many brands of natural chips are now packaged in matte bags, as opposed to the shiny bags that spell out UNHEALTHY.”
Put the Psychology of Multi-Sensory Appeal to Work for You
If you want your next project to engage consumers in an stronger emotional ways, contact us to understand how the right mix of multi-sensory special effects can work for you. We’ll even evaluate your current or recent projects as part of our “Even Better If..” Audit so you can start to see the possibilities.