Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sensory marketing: a big hype?

Photo: Terry Slater "Zoomphoto". Model: me 

Sensory marketing is in full swing. A while ago the cake makers Mr Kipling unveiled a giant edible billboard in Westfield, made up of little cup cakes which were then distributed to people when the board was taken down a few hours later. It gave people the opportunity to see, smell and then eat the lovely, exceedingly sugary, cakes. 

Mr Kipling's edible board

Fashion events have also embraced technology that enhances the sensory experience. Ralph Lauren's 4D experience last Autumn in NYC involved the use of scents and holographic water projection.
The idea is to engage all the senses, not relying exclusively on (boring) vision.
Aradhna Krishnan, Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan, is one of the most prominent writers on sensory marketing and why this is the way of the future: in her book Customer sense: how the 5 senses influence buying behaviour (2009) she states: "Accepting the importance of the senses brings about a change in how a manager views his or her products. What changes can be made in the packaging, branding, and advertising to captivate the consumer's senses? What changes can be made to the product itself?" And indeed her questions have been taken on board very seriously - hey guys, there's bucks to be made here. We can see more and more attempts at selling us things appealing to our sense of smell or that of touch - the sense of hearing is already fully engaged  in advertising campaigns, we see things and we hear sounds, most commercials involve the auditory experience and the visual intertwined. The  advertising of the future may include ways of letting us smell perfumes and inhale the aroma of chocolate and what-have-you when the ad appears on our screens.

Ralph Lauren's show. Images: Ralph Lauren

It's the era of neuro-marketing - another neuro-trash, neuro is the buzzword of the moment, there is even a neuro-philosophy and  a neuro-literary criticism, believe it or not. I am waiting to see the birth of quantum- aesthetics, that would be interesting but quantum has not had the same PR as neuroscience, maybe because of its indeterminacy?
This appeal to the senses for branding has its supporters - anything that can boost sales is welcome - but also its detractors. I for one would not wish to be constantly assailed by technologically recreated odours, the smells of the city are just enough for me, not would I relish  being  bombarded with exotic smells all the time. The attempt to engage touch leaves me very indifferent. I am used to seeing ads and I know how to switch off, it has become ingrained for us to see images and pay little attention to them, even though they still work at a subliminal level.
I am not saying this because I don't care about smelling, touching or hearing.  It's just that to me me smelling and touching, not to mention tasting,  are very, very personal. I already hate it when people go round distributing confectionery and asking you to try one - all that sugar!  I once went to a casting where they were distributing chocolate bars - that's poison to me, I like my chocolate to be bitter and completely organic, I would not have a Cadbury flake near me ever - well, unless they paid me to hold it (just joking). It's already quite a task to shake off politely eager assistants at airport duty free shops, waving their little card samplers with scents on them to invite you to buy the fragrance of the day - I wait for them to engage another customer and then go and choose my fragrance, if I have to get one.

Raymond Tallis' thought provoking article in the New Humanist

Ok maybe I am not enlightened enough. But reading that Martin Lindstroem, the guru of sensory marketing  and author of the best seller Brand Sense: Build Powerful Brands Through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound (2005) has uttered words of caution is enough to make me ponder whether sensory marketing is after all a big hype. According to the branding expert  "Scent is extremely powerful and dangerous if used wrong. So far, we're not advanced enough to use it that way, but I've wanted to have a dialogue on the implications of this, and nobody's talking."

Friday, 12 December 2014

Romancing yourself

Passion coach Vena Ramphal. Photo by Irven Lewis

The British Yoga Festival was in full swing at the Design Centre in Islington, north London, last  weekend.  I visited on the opening day and was drawn to one of the workshops in particular,  it seemed different from the others, full of promise. Entitled 'Head, Heart and Hips: the Yoga of Relationships' and led by Vena Ramphal,  a 'passion coach' who specialises in relationships, the workshop lived up to its promise and was  intellectually and emotionally satisfying.
What Vena  really teaches you and encourages you to do is to have a fuller, more meaningful relationship with yourself. She says that one needs to see oneself as a whole, never as a 'half', stressing that being with someone is not about being completed by someone else but about being enriched by and enriching someone's life.

Photographer: Vanessa Mill. MUA: Tori Harris. Model: me

In the workshop we covered topics such as breath, the body, the mind, manifesting and using savasana, the corpse pose, as a way to listen to the body. Savasana is the most important yoga pose!
Vena talked about cultivating romance and ended with five very important points which I am passing on to you, my readers, in the order in which  I received them and without any commentary of my own:
1. Romance doesn't just happen. It needs to be invited in.
2. You can't force the magic. Romance will visit when it's ready.
3. A clear relationship nurtures romance.
4. Romance breathes in the space(s) between you.
And the final one, which I thought was really  beautiful and nourishing: always have a secret romance with yourself.
Thank you Vena, you truly are a breath of fresh air!

Monday, 1 December 2014


Photographer: Vanessa Mill. MUA: Tori. Model: myself

I am very proud to announce that I have contributed to an article about going grey. You can find it here. Enjoy!