How our sense of touch affects brand visibility


Direct marketing has long been a staple of a company’s marketing mix, but do you fully understand why it impacts your customers? I recently spoke with Patti Groh, Director of Marketing and Communications at Sappi North America, about their research into haptics (the science of touch) and its impact on our interactions and sense of worth with people. brands.

Gary Drenik: Tell us about Sappi North America and how you work with brands to improve their direct mail.

Patti Groh: Sappi North America is a global renewable resource company that harnesses the power of trees to make the essential ingredients you’ll find in the products you use every day. From cosmetic packaging and barrier papers for the food industry, to the textiles and clothing you wear, to paper for catalogs, advertising and direct mail. For our direct mail customers, we provide high quality printing and cardboard products and work closely with converters, printers and brand owners to create durable direct mail items. Our papers like Opus, Somerset and Flo are optimized for direct mail and used to create visual and tactile experiences that help brands stand out by eliminating digital clutter. And, they’re sustainably produced with state-of-the-art machinery, so our brand partners know they’re receiving materials made with cutting-edge environmental stewardship.

Drenik: Sappi has done quite a bit of research on the power of haptics and the consumer’s sense of touch. Can you tell us more about this?

Groh: We are constantly learning how to make our paper-based products and their uses more efficient. To this end, we in partnership with renowned neuroscientist and haptics expert Dr David Eagleman to understand the influence of haptics (the science of touch) on our psychology and emotions. Touch naturally plays a fundamental role in human life and is essential to the way we communicate, interact and bond with those around us. Half of our brain power, according to Dr. Eagleman, comes from processing the senses, and the majority of that power is dedicated to processing touch. It triggers an emotional response where we value the things we touch and form a connection whether we realize it or not. It puts us in a position of ownership over what we touch, making us more attached. This is the same reaction babies have when they feel (and subsequently crave) a parent’s touch, and on a much smaller scale, allows brands to connect with their consumers through their products. physical products and their marketing materials.

Drenik: How does this research relate to direct / mail marketing? How can this help influence a brand’s audience?

Groh: Closely related to the research behind haptics is the principles of successful direct marketing. Brands have a limited window to grab – and keep – the attention of customers. First, let’s take the idea of ​​appropriation that physical touch creates in us. When we feel like we own something, we value it and attach it more. This is called the endowment effect, according to Dr. Eagleman. When something is addressed to you specifically, like a letter, that sense of ownership only increases. From the start, you established a connection with your customer and they placed a value on your product.

Consumers are also more likely to remember what they read on paper than on a screen, and studies have found three reasons for this: paper makes content more intuitively navigable, facilitates better mental mapping of information and drains less cognitive resources, so our retention is better.

And finally, studies have shown that the more ingenuity and quality you put into your direct marketing materials, the better your performance will be. For example, Dr. Eagleman’s lab found that marketing materials printed on high-quality paper resulted in better information retention and better brand preference over those using low-quality paper. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey, customers of all generations were most influenced by direct marketing in categories where customers could best visualize or interact with products – electronics, foodservice and apparel / apparel in particular are all more visible segments where touching and interacting with a product gives better results.

Drenik: How have direct mail efforts been affected over the past year during the pandemic?

Groh: The past year has presented many opportunities for direct marketing as people were more at home, working remotely, and lacking the physical connections they had in public environments. Direct mail filled a need for many people who were fed up with screens and craved more personal interactions – 31% of consumers say they are more excited than ever to receive mail during the pandemic, and 34% say they are looking to direct mail ads for deals more than ever. Due to the impact of Covid-19, market forecasts predict that direct marketing grow 2.91% CAGR between 2021 and 2025. This is a fantastic opportunity to capitalize on your marketing efforts as customers return to direct mail and recognize its value in their buying behavior.

Drenik: Why is it important for brands to have a holistic approach to their marketing efforts between print and digital assets?

Groh: No one is absorbing content through a single medium, so an integrated marketing approach is key to getting a return on your investment of your efforts. For example, many believe that millennials, who make up the largest group of consumers, rely exclusively on digital marketing to influence their buying habits. Yet a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics A survey found that millennials are more likely than any other generation to be influenced by direct marketing in several industries, including electronics, apparel and beauty products.

Historically, it has been difficult to track direct mail performance on sales and conversions, which has led many brands to prioritize digital marketing efforts over direct. It has been a mistake that many brands are work to correct, recognizing the value of a holistic marketing approach. On average, you can find a 28% increase in conversion rates when you combine digital content and direct mail. A tiered approach allows you to stay in front of your customer and get the best of haptics with the ease of shopping online. The use of QR codes, for example, especially during the pandemic, has bridged a gap between print and digital advertising, allowing for better conversion tracking and a streamlined customer experience and is likely to stay.

Drenik: Talk about sustainability in direct / mail marketing. How can businesses be environmentally conscious when doing direct marketing?

Groh: Sustainability should be a consideration for any business. Fortunately for printing, this is easier because it comes from a renewable resource and can be recycled. There are several practices that businesses can adopt to stay sustainability conscious in their direct mail / marketing campaigns, including:

  • Select paper whose chain of custody has been certified by a credible third party such as SFI®, PEFC or FSC®, which guarantees that the paper comes from sustainably managed and harvested trees.
  • Ask your supplier if they quantify their greenhouse gas emissions so that they can commit to reducing those emissions.
  • Make sure that the proper recycling guidelines are provided on the printed material. More paper by weight is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than glass, plastic, steel and aluminum combined.
  • Ask your printer about their environmental practices! Consult them on the impact of modifications such as inks, varnishes, specialty coatings, adhesives and foils on recyclability.
  • Ensure responsible consumption by updating your mailing list. Duplicate or undeliverable addresses are avoidable waste and this also saves money – a simple and long-lasting solution.

Drenik: Thanks, Patti, for your ideas on Sappi North America, the impact of haptics on direct marketing efforts, and how businesses can be more sustainable in their direct marketing efforts.


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