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Making 'sense' of the Customer Experience

Making 'sense' of the Customer Experience

The age of customer – centricity is here. Agencies and their client partners can ill afford not to pull focus on customer-first strategies, creating experiences that benefit consumers as much as bank balances. Has there ever been a time when a CMO had to care, more and understand more about their consumers? I think not.

As an industry we seemingly believe all answers lie in data. By understanding how people have behaved yesterday we can be more personalised in the way we treat one another tomorrow.  I mean how much better can it get? We can speak to the right people at the right time, in the right place, about the right thing. Right?

Data certainly represents a huge part of our collective arsenal. It often represents the truth we hate to think about ourselves. It calls us out on behaviours we don’t like to admit. It knows us better than our mum.

But is it personal? It is human?

Brilliant advertisers and communications agencies have always spoken about getting to the human truth. What makes people tick.

Perhaps we need to go beyond truths and be more concerned about the human experience?

In recent years we seem to have done this through “content content content”. Yet, we wonder why consumers are turning off from advertising messages in whatever form they take. Surely bombarding them with big budget audio visual delights hasn’t helped. Perhaps we’ve overloaded them to the point of them becoming desensitised? Perhaps we need to be appealing to all five senses for a more ‘human’ experience?

Naked Communications recently launch something called Brew. It’s an event series where we try to challenge the convention of marketing communications today, with a view to create a better, more sustainable way to engage with consumers. Our first Brew looked at how advertisers can benefit from challenging the notion of their purpose and role in the world. It was only natural that our second event looked specifically at challenging our use of sensory experience within marketing. Most notably, if we stand for X then how can consumers experience it across the myriad of choices – after all, everything communicates Brand.

Taking inspiration from outside the industry, we looked to establish a new way of creating experiences which could help marketers understand and take advantage of the senses.  We call this Sensecraft™. Essentially it’s a planning framework which allows us to consider how we’re engaging all five of the senses at each stage of the consumer journey. At Brew we worked with Professor Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist at the University of Oxford. He is the head of the Crossmodal Research group which specialises in the research about the integration of information across different sensory modalities. This sounds complicated because it is…but essentially this means he investigates how one sense affects another, and in turn how this starts to affect our overall experience.

Sensecraft applies that train of thought specifically to marketing communications, products and services. Importantly it questions the combination of complimentary senses in creating the most memorable and positive experience for consumers along the purchase journey. For instance, is a deodorant deemed more effective with a louder spray? Can the colour of a plate affect the taste of our food? Does a high pitch sound make our food taste sweeter? The answer to all of these questions is yes… and it’s the combination of these senses coupled with the environment we experience them in which makes the idea of Sensecraft so interesting. The creative possibilities could be endless, as could be the benefit to the consumer.

As advertisers continue to push messages in ever more cluttered spaces we surely have a responsibility to up our game. With so many options afforded to us in a connected world, isn’t it time we stopped relying on old methods and really looked at how we speak to consumer’s total experience?

Surely that’s common sense. But as my Dad always told me, the problem with common sense is, it’s not very common.  Let’s change that.

Nick Tate is the Head Of New Business & Marketing at Naked Communications, Europe

Last updated 09/03/2016

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