For marketers, good things come to those who play

New sensory tactics said to attract, retain attention

Second of a series

This year’s consumer trends report by JWT Manila focuses on play as a competitive advantage. It ranks No. 1 on the list that will enable marketers all over the country to hit the consumer’s perfect spot to allow them to refocus branding to specific targets.


Nowadays, people are living hyperactive lifestyles. Their to-do lists seem to stretch on for eternity. More and more people now wish that a day lasts more than 24 hours so they can complete their tasks. This is why marketers now want to inject play and use it as a competitive advantage to de-clutter consumers’ mind.

Stuart Brown M.D., founder of National Institute of Play, defines play as “doing something simply for the fun of it.”


Reigniting creativity

The stressful environment that a hyperactive lifestyle creates “burns people out and causes them to search for a better work-life balance. This is where play is added into the mix. Because adding play to adult life does not only recharge them but also gives multiple benefits such as reigniting creativity,” Brown says.

Some companies are beginning to understand the need to inject play into their employees’ lives. One example is Google, which appeared to have perfected the creative workplace. Aside from that, Google gives its engineers one day a week to work on “passion projects.”

Companies in the Philippines are also beginning to see the light that play can shed to their employees’ productivity. More companies have initiated zumba classes during break times. The establishment of biking, running and mountaineering clubs in companies are also on the rise to promote wellness and work-life balance.

With this, marketers are invited to leverage on the concept of play by creating events that allow people to just move, run, jump and have fun along the way.

“With the increasing awareness for the need to play, brands have an opportunity to serve as catalyst for unstructured activity among adults by helping to encourage it or by providing more opportunities to insert playful activities into everyday life. Brand managers can also help take the guilt out of play by emphasizing the physical, mental and competitive benefits that play can bring,” the report says.

Ranked No. 6 in this year’s trends is sensory explosion.


Aura of ‘realness’

The report explains that the advent of the digital age has helped shrink the world.

Consumers now see the world as “becoming phonier and more plastic, and also regard themselves as excellent judges of what is the ‘real deal.’ Heightened sensory stimulation is a way to build an aura of ‘realness.’”

The digital era has increasingly disconnected people from the “physical, tactile, in the flesh world.” Most people are now preoccupied by chatting online, shopping online, or playing sports with a remote.

While modern technology has bridged the gap between continents, it has also widened the space between two people. An example would be a group of friends who are seated together in a table but hardly look or converse with each other because they are too busy updating their Facebook status in their smartphones.

With the turn of events, “marketers are turning to new sensory tactics to attract and retain attention. One way they’re doing this is via the relatively new field of neuromarketing. This field posits that most buying decisions occur at a subconscious level that can be tapped with particular memes, little units of sensory information that, if well-chosen, stick in the brain as memories,” the report says.

Experience still the best teacher

In the local setting, companies have learned to adapt to this trend. In Globe and Smart stores, they allow consumers to interact with and explore the latest phone gadgets on display. Breadtalk purposely releases a strong scent of freshly baked bread to lure customers to their stores.

Local customers say brands that let them feel, touch or experience their products stand out more, helping them along in establishing a relationship with the product, the report adds.

According to the report, the exciting opportunity for brands this year is to “avoid the imperative to compete on price and boost consumers’ loyalty through the thrill of the super-sensory experience.”

As they say, “experience is still the best teacher.”

Technology has given us so much and will continue to give us more in the coming years. Among its greatest contribution is gifting us with intelligent objects that can actually help improve and enrich our lives.


The report writes that intelligent objects abound, but some are truly outstanding like Oakley’s new Airwave goggles using GPS sensors, Bluetooth and a display to provide information on the slopes. It is designed for skiers and snowboarders, allowing them to gauge their speed, location, altitude and distance traveled. Also, it can read text messages or e-mails on the screen. Another example is the RFID tag in socks from BlackSocks, which identify each sock according to its unique tag. Owners can use an iPhone app to ensure socks are correctly paired.

Vlad Trifa, co-founder of Evrything—a software company that makes products “smart” by connecting them to the Internet—says that “it’s not the human that needs to learn how to use technology but the other way around.” An intelligent object must build around the consumer’s habits, behavior and rituals.

For Filipino consumers, there are a lot of intelligent objects that they read and dream about, one of which is the refrigerator that not only defrosts, but alerts you via mobile phone on what to stock up based on your past grocery data.

Peer power

“Some exciting opportunities for brands wanting to tap into the intelligent objects trend include ideating on how to make brands and products easier, safer, more efficient, more cost-effective and simply more fun for consumers,” the report explains.

Peer power is a new concept that has landed on No. 8 in this year’s top trends.

Communal education is a newer concept in peer-to-peer. With this, the traditional method of student-teacher structure is challenged. The thirst for knowledge now extends beyond the four walls of the classroom and seeks out “to connect other teachers, hobbyists and experts looking to share their interests and knowledge.” Global examples include Skillshare in New York, Sophia in Minneapolis and Udemy in San Francisco.

In the Philippines, a rising star in peer-to-peer education is Trade School Manila. It describes itself as “as an independent community that runs on barter. Take a class and pay for it with an item from the instructor’s wish list.”

But local consumers are yet to fully trust the peer-to-peer service. Most Filipino consumers are cautious in availing themselves of services offered by unknown entities or strangers. But the report says that “whether or not brands partner with peer-to-peer services … the model can suggest new, more innovative approaches. One of the strengths of the peer-to-peer economy lies in its ability to deliver authenticity and local flavor, attributes that appeal to consumers.”


(To be continued)

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