How far do we perceive them?


We are all aware of the distinctive brand advertising model. They examine a vital and ordinary habit that they notice in their consumers and make it a ritual known to all. Brand rituals are practices, routines or rites tied to a particular trade name. Rituals differ from customs in that they are meaningful and metaphorical rather than predictable. They are made to engage everyone with our subconscious so that we are not overwhelmed by ordinary routine. They are invaluable for brands as they can increase their appeal. Customers also receive a sense of connection and value. Rituals include a soothing change from the monotony of typical life and imbue actions with feeling. More importantly, they greatly simplify our complex and confusing environment by providing an itinerary and a sense of satisfaction.

CAN RITUALS IMPROVE THE TASTE OF FOOD? : With a series of 4 studies on chocolate, lemonade and carrots, a marketing professor and a group of academics tried to answer this question. In the first experiment, individuals who followed a given ritual perceived chocolate to be tastier, more valuable, and more apt to be savored than those who did not accept the process. These results were reinforced by swapping carrots for chocolate. The second experiment suggested that random signs do not cause the same effect on consumption as routine movements. Prolonging a process until it’s time to savor it has also been proven to enhance enjoyment. The third experiment revealed that seeing others perform the ritual is not enough to improve results; commitment is required to receive the benefits of the ritual. This has been proven by brewing lemonade in a planned, ritualistic form rather than perceiving others doing so. The ultimate experiment directly demonstrated the key process: rituals increase pleasure consumption by eliciting increased participation in the event.

A DEEP SOURCE OF COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE! : The gap between consumption habits and consumption rituals is quite small. The emotional basis of the rituals is quite deep. Consumption rituals are used by the advertising industry to interact with and attract the attention of consumers. An advertisement for hair oil, for example, exploits mother-daughter habits of applying oil. They offer a lot of authenticity in how we encounter life, from specific events to festivals, weddings, graduations and even simple daily tasks. Rituals give us a sense of belonging, but also of nostalgia and familiarity. Candles on a birthday cake, a special luncheon to honor a milestone or a special day, or the simple act of giving and receiving gifts are all examples of rituals that can make things more enjoyable. Classic taste and smell modifiers, celebrity tips, and the image strength of these factors can make a product, whether appetizing or not, more tempting to a consumer. But another factor can improve the appeal of virtually any commercial product. This unique non-physical intensifier attends a ritual that includes an increased level of satisfaction at the usage rate cycle. Rituals can be part of the overall marketing strategy and image of a product, or they can appear out of nowhere in one of the brand’s advertisements.

Consumption rituals can be studied, used and measured to achieve significant comparative advantage if they are actively and strategically integrated into brand strategy and execution. Due to competitive advantages in technology and process, a manufacturer can work towards developing and delivering a product or service at the lowest competitive cost, while increasing productivity. If the barriers to entry are low, someone with identical technology and processes can easily step in and challenge a pre-existing manufacturer, cut their profits, take over their business, or put them out of business. In today’s environment, a brand’s emotional connection to its customers is the most strategic barrier to entry.

Global companies can afford to buy and flood many channels with their advertisements and messages, ensuring that their products are always at the forefront of their customers’ minds. They also believe that bombarding a consumer with constant exposure to their messaging would obliterate all other options, forcing them to buy their default product. It also becomes an Achilles heel for these big budget rivals. In advanced economies such as the United States, research data shows that big-budget competitors are losing market share and, more importantly, profitability share, while small, nimble companies that focus on emotional connection and relationship with their customers are able to develop successfully. Consumers are adopting an innovative routine in the modern “low-touch” world in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This brings risky marketers along with a unique perspective to bond more closely with customers.

Nushakha Israt is a marketing student at Jahangirnagar University.

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