16 . 05 . 19

Why people need print now more than ever

Words by: Print Power
In a world of endless screens, best-selling branding author and expert Martin Lindstrom explains why we’re all craving a more tactile experience.
MARTIN LINDSTROM Ministry Common Sense.jpg

The power of print at a glance:

  • Society is craving tactile interactions, making us even more receptive to the most creative paper-based packaging design and print marketing
  • Print media and advertising has a lasting influence, with up to 70% better recall than any other channel, increasing its effectiveness
  • The CEOs of the world’s biggest corporations must pay attention to the sensory impact of their brands, and we must devise a metric that offers a true measure of marketing effectiveness

When Martin Lindstrom established Lindstrom Company almost 20 years ago, he already knew it was vital for brands to get under the skin of the consumer experience, creating interactions with all five senses.

Since then, he has authored seven books on how brands are built and the impact they have on us all. He’s also presided over the world’s most comprehensive neuromarketing study, which culminated in the release of his New York Times best-seller Buyology, an exploration of the factors that truly determine how we buy.

Today, Lindstrom believes that too many businesses have disregarded the effectiveness of sensory encounters and are mired in a swamp of digital KPIs and departmental processes.  

We spoke to Martin about why touch matters so much (whether you’re a human or a rat), his mission to increase tactile interactions with brands, and the need for a new metric in media planning to measure the all-important irrational impact of marketing.

In a climate where consumer irritation levels around digital advertising and the use of adblockers are rising at alarming rates, can print cut through?

In the past print used to be a communication medium, now it’s becoming a communication and sensory stimuli media.

Paper stands out. A study shows that we recall things on paper up to 70% more than other channels. The reason is very simple. For example, take an airport departure screen which is flicking from page to page; as you look at it your eye has to flick over all these different things before you get to the information you need. It is inherently built into our brains that you have to read things in a superficial way when it’s on a screen, but studies are showing now that when you read things on paper, you actually recall the information and you are more emotionally engaged.

Print has a lasting impact; it’s more like I’m in control of the media rather than it is controlling me.

Paper has three strengths: one is the stimulation of the sensory channels; two, the data is not going to disappear; and three, because everyone is digital, you can actually see the brands that are going the opposite way. The message stands out by being on print.

What aspects of today’s consumer landscape are setting the scene for the resurgence of print media?

Print definitely has an advantage compared to other channels, but you have to put in in a bigger perspective. Let’s take a look at the psychology of print. There was an experiment done with rats some time ago, where two sets of rats were tested for the impact that the tactile sensation has. The first pair of rats were touched every hour by the scientific team; the second pair of rats were not touched at all during the entire two month period. After this, the rats who were never touched, died, whereas the pair that were touched every hour lived on, happily.

In many ways, this indicates what’s going on in our society today. Because it’s so digitally obsessed, we have reduced the amount of tactile interactions we have with humans in a way which is starting to be pretty dangerous. People have excluded themselves from local communities, which are dying, so therefore there is no interaction at all. The only thing that people touch is a screen.

Having the rat experiment in mind, it’s very clear that society is craving tactile interactions. In Japan over the past ten years, people in senior homes have been asked to install a pet, sometimes robots, sometimes real pets. And in Tokyo they have the concept of pet cafes – where you can go in and touch animals in your lunch break.   

Our society today, because it’s so digitally obsessed, has reduced the amount of tactile interactions we have with humans in a way that is starting to be pretty dangerous.
Martin Lindstrom
Chairman & Founder, Lindstrom Company

Do you think marketers and media planners are open to increasing engagement by triggering multiple senses?

Very few agencies, if any, spend time learning the deep psychology of the channels. The media buying agencies are incredibly focused on rational numbers in terms of reach and demographics, but very few sit down and ask themselves: what is the true impact of a channel? And how does it resonate with us in our brains?

It’s almost like they are assuming that we are completely rational individuals. All our studies using neuroscience today clearly prove that around 85% of everything we do is subconscious and is irrational – while only 15% of everything is rational. Yet the media buying industry is mainly focused on the 15%, not the 85%.

If the tactile experience is so critical to the performance of marketing, should we amend the metrics of engagement to include the triggering of multiple senses?

The paper industry should devise a term which could measure impact. This could be a global standard which is independently monitored and which can clearly help the industry to compare apples against bananas. That doesn’t exist right now, or certainly I’ve never seen it.

In my book Brand Sense, I created a ‘sensogram’ – a way of being aware of and measuring the impact of design. We work with the largest companies in the world and whenever I talk about this topic it is like a deer in headlights; I mean we are talking about the CEOs of the biggest CPGs and FMCG companies in the world but when I talk about the impact on our senses it’s like they’ve never heard of it before.

It stuns me every time, because these are the people who are literally producing millions and millions of packages every day and have no idea about the impact of tactile marketing and the senses. Obviously it’s just not on the radar, so yes metrics can be a good idea, but there is so much other work to be done here.