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Using the five senses to fulfil all dimensions of happiness

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Momentum reminds marketers to reconsider what consumers want as live events return and suggests appealing to their five senses

The days where consumers attended live experiences to add a cool snap to their Instagram feed are gone. Of course people still want to capture memories, share photos with friends and family and show what they’ve been doing, but a shift has happened over the past 18 months. Our research found only 12% of consumers still want to attend an event for posting content on social media and only 20% need the event to give them something to brag about. It’s no longer about earning likes, but doing what you like and ultimately what makes you happy.

It’s clear to see when you speak to friends and family that life expectations have changed, and this is no different for live experiences. People’s desires on what they require from live experiences have shifted dramatically from a social currency to an emotional one as a year of social distancing took its toll. Joy and happiness are the top desired expectations for live events from our study (69%), followed by mental wellbeing (64%), lasting memories (62%) and reconnecting with family and friends (57%). This is a stark contrast to consumers’ mindsets pre-pandemic, but completely understandable given what people have been through.

When it comes to live experiences it’s crucial that these shifts in society are reflected in how events are planned, created and executed. Brands must meet consumer’s new demands, ensuring all the different human senses are utilized to provide long-term joy and happy consumers. We have the technology and creativity to make people feel fulfilled.

Touch

Touch is the first sense humans developed and is used to be aware of things such as pressure, temperature and vibration. It’s a key sense from childhood and can evoke a multitude of emotions. Brands must ensure that these elements are thought of and adjusted to create memorable experiences that also help with mental wellbeing and reduce stress. We’ve all been in a music venue at one point and faced the horror of sticky surfaces and nightmare toilets. Yet well-thought-out planning and execution can eliminate this and increase the quality of the overall event. Secret Cinema became so successful as participants could touch props, bringing the experience to life like never before. People don’t want to be in any extreme circumstances following the past few years.

Sight

Visual cues are still vital for an unforgettable experience. Having these involved heighten the chances of consumers being able to create the long-lasting memories they so crave in the post-pandemic world. Through the use of lighting, props or any other type of aesthetics, moments can be shared and a memory stored. Technology will also play a huge part in this, increasing the impact. American Express recently used AR to create a game for Wimbledon where Andy Murray coached users. The visual cues, as well as the use of technology, created an unforgettable experience to be enjoyed by all. The association of this happy time can then be unlocked in the future by seeing similar rushing endorphins to the brain and taking people straight back to that happy place.

Hearing

Not too dissimilar to sight, the power of music and ambient sounds is one that can transport you right back to a happy place and time. Dancing to music with your mates or the sound of the waves coming in and out as you lay on the beach instantly creates joy. Just thinking of it makes me take a deeper breath in and out. Shared sounds connect us with specific people and grow that bond. Sounds can be the focus or in the background, but all play a part in creating the event, whether consumers are consciously aware of it or not. There’s no doubt it adds to the overall experience.

Smell

Humans have 400 smelling receptors and may be able to smell over 1tn scents. This leaves the door wide open for people attending experiences to be put off by a bad smell, but also be drawn in by a positive one. Building those associations with consumers through smell is already becoming a popular way for brands to stay at the forefront of people’s minds. American Express has used diffusers at premium activations to bring their own branded scent into the experience, cleverly linking their smell with an unforgettable experience. Don’t be afraid to subtly introduce neutral smells that make people feel at ease and relaxed during their experience.

Taste

You may think the last sense may only be relevant in certain circumstances, but this is incorrect. Everybody has a taste they love and it’s as powerful as the other senses in immediately bringing joy to someone. Connections with loved ones are frequently made around the dinner table with food, and this is no different at events. The taste of an ice cream bought in an aisle of a theater during the interval can never be replaced.

As we pass Freedom Day, when live events will be up and running, don’t forget to consider that consumers’ wants and desires are different. They’ve moved on. It’s not enough to focus on stimulating one sense – now brands must work hard to accommodate all five senses to fulfil all dimensions of happiness.

Tom Ellis-Jones, UK client services director at Momentum Worldwide.