Creating haptic journeys of discovery with a sense of nobleness


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 3 2018)

Commissioned by the Creatura industry initiative, the Multisense Institut für sensorisches Marketing (Multisense Institute for Sensory Marketing) analysed more than 300 international studies on the impact of print advertising and print enhancement, on whose basis it drafted practical recommendations for the use of print in the digital age.

Zeros and ones have revolutionised the world of marketing. Our lives have become considerably more comfortable over the past few decades thanks to the internet and complex software. Apps are making our telephones smart and useful, we are communicating in an uncomplicated manner even across geographical borders and knowledge and information are available 24/7. With these, digitalisation is revolutionising virtually all business models, structures and processes – apart from those in our brains. How we perceive things, how our feelings come about and how we make decisions have always followed the same principles. But contrary to some predictions, the world is not completely dissolving in pixels. In fact: digital transformation is triggering a renaissance of all things analogue. Offline is now a full-on trend again. In an over-stimulated, virtual world, people crave concrete and sensual experiences. Here, print plays an important role, supplementing high-tech to include ‘high-touch’.

A central neuroscientific realisation: due to its multisensory qualities, print is ideally suited to the human brain. Furthermore, print offers more possibilities for marketing experts than ever before thanks to enhancements and multisensory interaction elements. But caution: the assumption that soft-touch and shine automatically generate willingness to purchase and sales is as much of a fallacy as the ‘millions of clicks = millions of sales’ equation.

The Creatura ‘The Power of Print’ meta-analysis conveys the latest research in an understandable manner, providing practical tips and ideas as to how marketing professionals can optimise the impact of print advertising. The meta-analysis answers fundamental questions: What do we know about the impact of print advertising in the Digital Age? Why does print still play a unique role in the media mix when building brand trust? What influence does print have on awareness? How does print improve advertising recall and brand credibility? How does print influence perception and the consumer acceptance at the point of sale?

Even the media philosopher Marshall McLuhan postulated over 60 years ago: “The medium is the message”. The channel via which a message reaches people also shapes its meaning. For this reason: those comprehensively understanding how to shape their message by means of print and correctly using it within cross-media interaction will have an important competitive edge. To this end, print and print enhancement can take people on sensory adventures that have a measurable positive influence on brand recall, brand trust, response and consumer acceptance.

To achieve this, it is essential that print becomes more conceptional in media planning. This is no longer merely about a logistics channel exclusively for information – it is about reaching recipients and having a certain impact with the medium in conjunction with the information and the form of presentation. If it is unclear what the desired impact is and how the print communications objective is defined, it makes no sense to choose a print enhancement because it will then have no more than one multisensory attention affect. For this reason, it is necessary to look at the concept in reverse; starting with the desired result and the impact, we have to address the multisensory amplifiers so we can then decide which appropriate (congruent) print enhancement should be used. Overall, this approach not only applies to print enhancement, but also to all available ‘interactive print elements’. In addition to various technical enhancements, these also include ad and print specials such as glued inserts or decoders, augmented reality and printed electronic applications.

 An interview with Olaf Hartmann, Managing Director of the Multisense Institut, on the Creatura meta-analysis.

Why did you advise the Creatura initiative to carry out the meta-analysis on the scientific findings relating to the impact of print?

We sense that the sector was demanding defensible arguments for, and proof for the effectiveness of print. We hear the defensive ‘print is not dead!’ battle cry from one side – and songs of praise in favour of digital marketing from the other. Here, the respective ‘camps’ are guided by their gut feelings. However, subjective perception trumps objective consideration here. The marketing sector is currently in a kind of digital trance. Huge financial resources are being invested in digital channels such as social media, sponsoring Instagram stars and programmatic advertising. Without wishing to detract from the latter, studies show that digital communication alone has less impact than prophets would have us believe. Despite this, many companies are naively rerouting their budgets from proven, effective channels such as print to digital media. The fact that this is not good for campaign efficiency is something the companies become bitterly aware of when analysing their sales figures – suddenly developing a renewed appreciation for the ‘once-shunned’ medium of print. This is not an either-or scenario, but more of a reassessment of the channels in the media mix.

Please briefly explain how the meta-analysis was carried out.

We approached it in a classical manner: researching, reading and interpreting in a practice-oriented way or transferral into practice. The meta-analysis is based on more than 300 international sources – from trend and market studies and scientific studies, which we added to current neuroscientific and perception psychology findings. We then edited the distilled knowledge on the basis of five effect dimensions: What influence does print have on awareness? How does print improve recall? How does print improve the credibility of advertising and brand messages? How does print influence appreciation and consumer acceptance?

What are the special qualities of print compared to digital channels?

The decisive benefit of print is its realness. People have a deep-rooted need to touch, as touch allows us to understand our world. We ascertain what is real – and what is actually reality – by means of touch and form an assessment for ourselves. If, however, we are unable to use this primal instinct, we lose a little of our orientation and power of judgement – particularly when it comes to assessing brands and products. And this is precisely what is happening in the digital world’s information jungle: people lack the sensory feedback that offers certainty and enables them to sense differences. Consequently, people crave this reliability and real experiences more strongly. In a high-tech world in which sensory experiences have become rare, ‘high-touch’ is the key to creating balance – hence also becoming an important success factor for brand communication. And print is a high-touch component here.

In your opinion, what do the findings in your analysis signify for cross-media campaigns?

The formula for success is: the more channels a campaign deploys, the more efficient it is. A study shows, for example, that five channels increase the campaign ROI by 35 per cent compared to a single-channel campaign. Within the context of a campaign, print also radiates particularly strongly on the other channels and is therefore absolutely essential for the overall campaign efficiency.

Will print also continue to have major importance in the future?

Absolutely! Print is and remains an effective and appealing brand touchpoint that enjoys the highest level of acceptance and credibility and triggers no defensive reactions in people. Print is not as annoying as interrupting push advertising on the internet. Furthermore, people cannot simply ‘click’ away print media, they actually consciously turn to them and do not ‘consume’ them merely in passing. Here, the subconscious power of the feel effect is triggered and grows with every touch.

What concrete instructions for action does this generate?

Thinking in a process. Initially understanding the purchasing motivators and the psychological objectives of direct mailing recipients, for example, then reconciling these with the sender’s brand positioning and strategically developing the relevant brand rewards. Only then will it make sense to consider the tactical design of the mailshot and only then will experts be able to find the most effective and most efficient form of print enhancement.

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A graduate advertising specialist, he started his career in the communication industry, finally discovering his passion for media production. He has been the Managing Director of the Fachverband Medienproduktion e.V. since 1998, successfully operating as a networker, specialist and presenter for the communications industry.

Creatura – a Fachverband Medienproduktion e.V. initiative

Picture credit © Patrik Leml - Scholz & Friends NeuMarkt GmbH/Realisation Hub

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