We’ve been working with experts in neuroscience to decode effectiveness and understand how programmed responses to external stimuli can be used to trigger action in consumers.
Let’s face it, supermarket shopping is a visual nightmare. How can using Biomotive Triggers® on packaging stop you pushing customers to screaming-point and get you noticed?
In a world where consumers have evolved to screen out marketing messages, the mainstream media are struggling to make a significant impact. CMO’s have never been more challenged to demonstrate ROI, yet the moment of truth occurs at the point of purchase – which is why effective packaging is the key to commercial success.
In an average shopping trip we experience 25,000 products shouting and competing to get our attention, yet consumers only buy from a small repertoire of around 100 products. Why is that? At Elmwood, we believe modern retail and FMCG brand design is wrongly predicated on the notion that shoppers make rational, informed decisions; in truth, the majority are purely instinctive and reactive.
Eye-tracking studies show that consumers read on average, only seven words in an entire shopping trip – buying instinctively by colour, shape and familiarity of location. It’s a jungle out there, so how can ‘triggering’ survival instincts improve commercial performance?
The answer is simple, our brains like to take short cuts; they help it run smoother so it creates favourites. Our brains have two functions – ‘Auto’ and ‘Deliberation/Reflection’. Establishing a favourite means we can shift our brain function to auto, which we like, so we buy stuff we are familiar with. So how do you crash the shopping autopilot and get noticed? By appealing to our reptilian brain – the part that decides before logic has a chance.
Biomotive Triggers® are an exciting development in the field of sensory marketing, developed at Elmwood in collaboration with Bradford University School of Management. In effect, we have been working to decode effectiveness in terms of the process of insight, idea generation, and how the reptilian part of our brain responds to visual and other stimulus, and influences our actions.
We are all hard-wired at an instinctive level to respond to certain stimulus, and these biological and emotional responses to visual and other stimuli can be used to prompt action in consumers. They are sensory cues that affect our subconscious, generating emotion and action before the conscious part of our brain can respond – like our fight-or-flight response. Understanding how these work can help brands create powerful emotional connections with consumers, build defendable iconic assets and enhance commercial performance. The key to success is being able to trigger a response at this primal level. These instinctive reactions can be designed into packaging through the application of Biomotive Triggers®.
There are lots of triggers, which are all interconnected; they are not mutually exclusive or work in isolation. The combinations used determine how we feel and react, and can help maximise consumer interest at that crucial moment of product choice in store.
Take cusps and curves for example – they are two of the most powerful combinations of Biomotive Triggers® that reach us on a primal level. Cusps are sharp pointy shapes and they get our attention, signaling fear danger and caution. Curves suggest safety, softness and comfort; they make us feel secure and encourage interaction. Our survival instinct is hard- wired to respond to these triggers, just like you instinctively know that a thorn is sharp and will hurt. Cusps have been used throughout history to signal fear. Disney are masters of using cusps to get our attention and create a mood to help tell a story, just think of the recent imagery and typography for Maleficent – it’s all cusps.
Biomotive Triggers® reverse the time-honored suppositions of brand and retail marketing; just shouting louder than everyone else wont cut it. Effective brands need to do four simple things at the point of sale with their packaging, to guide customers through the journey to purchase:
Does the pack get your attention, create immediate impact, and unconsciously contrast and disrupt the fixture?
If your pack is the first thing people see in store, you become the consumer’s signpost. If they navigate their way to the fixture using your pack, you’re halfway to the sale. You don’t get strong brands in areas like fresh meat, which is dominated by retail own-brands, so we used a series of Biomotive Triggers® to help make Gresssingham brand of Duck stand out in a vast expanse of chicken.
People did not even see duck in the fixture, so we created a distinctive brand mark – a ducks head inside a ‘G’, that is simple recognisable and iconic. This used a combination of triggers like curves, cusps, colour and calmness to create a clear visual point of orientation for the consumer in the fixture. Attracting attention from 15 feet, drawing the customer in and getting product consideration from two feet, then encouraging pick-up and conversion. Reversing a -14% decline, the new pack achieved record brand sales growth of +47% with no major marketing support.
Is the pack different, intriguing, and does it call to you?
It’s not just the number of facings that counts; it’s what the packaging triggers in the shopper’s brain. Take Anchor Squirty Cream, a product that only had a single shelf facing, but reversed a steady decline and justified a 100% price premium over its competition. The reason? The packaging used the trigger of orientation. It had a clear visual ‘point of orientation’ – a big, bold strawberry with squirty cream eyes that captured attention and directed the consumer’s eye to the pack, whilst helping tell its story – ‘liberate the fun’ at meal times. Sales decline turned into positive growth without any advertising support.
Does the pack appeal, sensorially, aesthetically and emotionally?
In order to motivate the consumer into action, brands must form meaningful connections and make them feel something. The key to this is unlocking the power of emotion and triggering appropriate feelings. Doing this through the pack is tough and here lies the opportunity.
Eyes are a strong trigger – it is an instinctive reaction to look back if someone or something looks at you; you are compelled to look back and understand why. This instinct, amongst several others was a key trigger used in the reinvigoration of Kimberly-Clark’s Andrex brand. The challenge was to emotionally engage with the consumer in a category that takes three seconds to shop. The role of the famous Andrex puppy was amplified on-pack with the focus on its face and eyes, making a direct and emotional – ‘buy me, take me home’ plea to every passing consumer – impossible to ignore.
The use of these Triggers helped turn six years volume decline into record revenue growth, all with a 50% reduction in media expenditure. Helping the brand regain its iconic status, it reassured and justified why people should pay more for it, and emotionally engaged customers, all in three seconds.
Does the pack make sense rationally and emotionally? Is it trustworthy value for money?
Simple design is more effective. Effective packaging makes it easy to understand at a glance – who I am, what I am, and why I am relevant to your life – so less is more. We live busy agitated lives and rarely experience moments of visual or auditory calm, so when presented with them, we gravitate towards them.
Similarly, bold isn’t always better. Buster, the drain unblocker took category leadership from established giants like Mr. Muscle, and Domestos by introducing a pack that triggers calm and immediate visual understanding. At half the size and with none of the busy power graphics that typify the category, Buster recognised the consumer’s agitated mindset when experiencing a blocked drain and contrasted all the shouting with calm. Sales rose 42% and achieved a 30% market share, with no above-the-line support. The brand is now expanding its reach in Europe, and Asia.
To stay in the basket week after week, packs must be ‘sticky’, stay top of mind and be memorable and distinctive. Ultimately, Biomotive Triggers® is one tool that will help brand owners understand what makes design more effective. We have helped make the subconscious more conscious, and created a framework and vocabulary that enables marketers to judge creativity with rational objectivity beyond subjective likes and dislikes. It will help CMO’s present ideas to the board with conviction and most importantly, allow them understand the science behind the creativity that is driving quantifiable sales uplifts. That way, retailers and manufacturers alike can make more informed choices that make them more money.
At the end of the day the consumer decides if you warrant a place in their lives. All you can do is make damn sure you engage them when you have the chance.