What is ASMR Marketing? ASMR Definition …
Any channel on YouTube that can claim over a half million subscribers to its name definitely has the right to boast about it. That is quite an achievement on any media platform. Ally Maque’s popular ASMRrequests channel currently has in excess of 504,000 followers and includes over 200 videos.
Impressive numbers. No? Alright then.
Consider the fact that another channel, ASMR Darling, has over 2.3 million subscribers! There are a surprising number of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos available Online and especially on YouTube. If you’re a marketer, or more specifically, a brand, does that not beckon opportunity?
On the very near horizon there is a trend within social media marketing that’s gathering momentum and that is ASMR marketing. It is a unique way to connect consumers and big name brands. With brands such as Pepsi, Michelob, and Ikea incorporating ASMR into their ads, it is fast becoming a key component of mainstream marketing strategies. Read on to learn about this curious phenomenon called ASMR.
Throughout this article, we will discuss this new method of the social media marketing that utilizes ASMR. We will learn what it is, apply a definition to it, and even delve into the some of the psychology behind it. Then, we look at several brand ASMR marketing campaigns (including one that missed the mark), before considering opportunities that exist for brands to capitalize on this trend.
Shifting gears, we consider the risks and rewards should your brand decide to “give it a whirl” (or rather, ‘give it a whisper’). Finally, we discuss whether or not ASMR campaigns have the legs to be a viable tool for long term marketing strategies in the marathon pursuit of reaching more customers.
Social media continues to evolve. Technology, trends, and applications will all continue to have a fluid relationship within the social media marketing landscape. As a small business, you understand that social media is not a spectator sport, you must get in the game and contribute.
Building a brand takes a good amount of work. You have a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, and your posts on Instagram have received more than a few “Insta-wow!” comments. Excellent. Additionally, you are responsive to your followers, you cultivate relationships, build online communities and you even started up a Facebook group that is sure to be an engagement hot spot. No doubt that your brand’s equity is on the rise.
Now what? You still have to conjure up some compelling content right?
Yes. But perhaps you can do more with less. In other words, try a marketing campaign designed to make the audience truly feel something. That aspiration, my friend, may put your brand on a path towards the pantheon of social media greatness.
Can a video ad for chocolate actually make your mouth water?
Can a luxury car commercial put you in a state of comfort and control?
How can a video clip for an organic beer essentially have a calming effect on the viewer?
What type of marketing sorcery is this?
It’s called ASMR and it is fast becoming a component of mainstream social media marketing tools.
What is ASMR? ASMR Definition
So what is ASMR?
Let me whisper it to you in your ear so come a bit closer.
ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.”
Okay, so what does that mean? From a broad perspective, ASMR is a highly sensory event where viewers feel pleasurable tingles, chills, or goosebumps from explicit visual, auditory, and at times, haptic triggers.
To put it another way, ASMR is the physical tingling sensation that some folks experience when they hear soft, repetitive, high quality sounds. Audible presentation is everything. That could be anything from melodic rain drops against your window, to the act of opening your favorite can of soda, or to the sound of a Mercedes’ sunroof opening on a clear blue sky day, or even the sound of someone’s soothing voice that can trigger the response. (Hence, the whispering)
Its meaning may be easier to grasp if we dive in and try to experience ASMR rather than offering a pure definition of it. Similar to attempting to describe what it would feel like to go swimming; I can’t really do that sufficiently. You have to experience the water to appreciate it.
So have a look for yourself at the Whisperlodge video trailer found on YouTube. ASMR videos, and there are a plethora of them, are meant to trigger that amazing ‘tingly’ sensation to help you relax the body and mind.
While the ASMR whisper may be the most recognized trigger there are others too. These can include tapping, light scratching, hair touching, affirmations, and even microphone brushing. Product-related triggers for ASMR might be sizzling, crunching, pouring the liquid (a drink), stirring, or opening a beverage can just to name a few. All very particular sounds designed to create an experience. A sensory experience.
ASMR has actually been around for about a decade now but chances are that you have not heard of it―yet. However, if you were one of the millions of fans watching this year’s Super Bowl commercials then you most likely saw an ASMR video ad for Michelob making not so subtle use of it.
So while it may have started with a relatively “quiet” cult-like following, ASMR might now be considered the next trend in marketing for ‘Main Street’ big business. Though it is not new, it is a relative novelty when it comes to social media, advertising, and marketing strategies. Furthermore, if an ASMR marketing and has made it all the way to the Super Bowl, then that’s social proof that ASMR is quickly becoming part of our culture.
What is the Psychology behind ASMR?
Yes, there is a bit of an incredulity around it. The intent here, nevertheless, is not to debate the validity of ASMR. There are millions of YouTube subscribers that will attest to the physical “tingling sensations.”
Academically, the ASMR phenomenon is only beginning to be studied. To dig a little deeper checkout ASMRuniversity.com where the home page introduction says “The Art & Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.” That sure sounds like serious business.
The website is maintained by Dr. Craig Richard and he might just be the leading expert on the subject. He is documenting and researching the sensory regions and recently published the first brain scan study of individuals experiencing ASMR. Very interesting.
In a recent article by Vanessa Mitchell Dr. Richard concluded that “brain areas activated during ASMR are similar to those activated during bonding and grooming behaviors, like parents caring for infants or your best friend playing with your hair.”
Meaning this stuff goes pretty deep. All the way to a physiological level. And, that’s just one example that he provides. Even as a kid I distinctly remember how great it felt when my sister brushed my hair (too much information, I know). The point is that these sensory experiences, with the right trigger, can occur in all of us.
From a marketing perspective it’s about tapping in to those positive enjoyable feelings. The ASMR marketing message and content (video, audible) triggers the sensory reactions and we all end up in a happy place.
Maybe it’s about making the customers’ world more enjoyable, more rewarding by encouraging you to slow down. Relax. Experience the moment. In a constant blitz of technology, noise, distractions, and fast paced hustle hit the mute button (figuratively) and simply (and quietly) be in the moment.
ASMR helps folks to do just that. Helping people to create a blissful ‘mental space’ and in that moment if you are able to infuse your product, you are indeed establishing new positive and lasting associations with your brand.
There are plenty of ways people try to relax. Some run. Some do yoga. Others play their favorite music or meditate for a while. While a relatively select few watch ASMR videos to chill out and unwind. Yes, really.
Take your pick and try a few videos:
Or, try a classic ASMR video of my favorite all-time painter Bob Ross (yes, really).
Videos are terrific, but If you would like a more intensive experience consider attending a live event.
A live event? Who knew?
Whisperlodge, according to their website, is the very first in-person immersive ASMR experience. It is an interactive spa for your senses that provides one-to-one live ASMR treatments in a relaxing safe environment.
So whereas brands typically seek an emotional connection with potential customers this new approach focuses on a sensory methodology to elicit a response from consumers. The question remains though, will this ASMR marketing resonate with audiences, or miss the mark entirely?
ASMR Brand Campaign Examples
Why would your brand want to use this marketing approach?
ASMR is a new frontier for social media platforms and it is growing in popularity, especially among Millennials and Generation Z. Rather than focusing just on the features of a product an ASMR approach lets you think about your product from a sensory perspective.
In other words, it’s not just a vehicle, a dress, a soft drink, or even a burger, but something that induces a physical response―it makes you feel something. To put it another way, my Aunt Harriet would equate ASMR with ‘highbrow’ music.
There are plenty of creative ways to incorporate ASMR into your social media content. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
ASMR whisper. Michelob Ultra’s organic beer Pure Gold made its debut during this year’s Super Bowl. A grand entrance indeed. The short video clip featured Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Kravitz) speaking rather softly into two microphones while tapping a Michelob bottle. Yep, that’s it.
It was a trendy new sound sensation intended to have a calming effect on listeners (i.e. viewers). A relaxing moment in a whirlwind of loud ‘over the top’ television commercials. The presentation is pure and tranquil and that’s aligned perfectly with the healthy organic message of the brand. Interestingly, Dr. Richard served as an “ASMR consultant” for that particular Super Bowl ad.
Compare this with a Burger King video commercial clip which also aired during the big game and you will feel the difference―literally.
Another example of ASMR video marketing is from a Chinese advertising firm. The Sihua Dove chocolate ad campaign was released just a few years back and it is a great example of the sensory power of ASMR. The video features classic ASMR sounds such as the crinkling of the candy wrapper and the crisp snapping of a chocolate square.
For any chocolate lover, myself included, how can your mouth not begin to water while watching this clip!? I’ll wait while you watch the short video …
ASMR shapes positive feelings and associations which is exactly how you would like customers to feel about your brand. So to engage your audience is one thing. To take it up a level where your product (through the use of ASMR) can make people actually feel good, well … that’s powerful marketing on any level.
Similarly, consider the popular Lincoln commercial featuring brand ambassador Matthew McConaughey. The ASMR video features a whistling wind and soothing music as McConaughey, in his typical cooler-than-cool vibe, recites an encounter with a bull on an isolated stretch of highway.
Unlike most car commercials, there is no adrenaline rush, in fact, this one is extremely chill. One bad-ass bull in the road. He’s in control, he does as he pleases. As a driver in this sleek Lincoln, you are in control. Calm, cool and collected. Master of your domain. You do as you please. Bull blocking the road? “Okay, so take a long way around, no problem at all.” That just means more time in this great automobile.
Sure it’s a different approach to presenting your brand but it works on a psychological level. Within an overall calming vibe, it parallels the power of Mr. Bull. It so eloquently works. Wouldn’t you agree?
Who knew that a car ride could be so relaxing? Behind the wheel of his implied bad-ass Lincoln, Mr. McConaughey did.
Ikea also created a classic ASMR inspired advertisement that is over twenty minutes long. Titled “Oddly IKEA”: IKEA ASMR, it is narrated by a young unseen female; she talks slowly, softly and deliberately about Ikea products that would be a good fit for a college dorm room.
The ASMR video commercial perfectly appeals to the younger generation demographic. Warm, soothing, comforting feelings while shopping at Ikea? Perhaps. That is certainly what the ad implies and with over 2.5 million views to date, Ikea has indeed connected on a sensory level with their loyal customers.
Pepsi, Skittles, KFC, Pringles, Lush and other mainstream brands have all participated as well by creating intentional AMSR advertisements. This marketing strategy trend is sure to continue as more brands strive to make their customers feel good, literally, about their products.
Opportunities for Brands using ASMR Marketing Strategies
How does this ASMR marketing approach relate to your brand?
Brands are always on the lookout for new ways to connect with audiences. Especially the sought after Millennial and Gen Z demographic. That’s highly valued marketing real estate when it comes to advertising. So it’s critical for brands to craft a social experience that is fluid, elegant, and that resonates with your fans.
Within your marketing craft a message that incorporates an ASMR strategy. Sure it’s a slightly different angle, but new and clever may just be what your brand needs to stand out among a crowd of competitors. Let them shout, you concentrate on building relationships one relaxing ultra-cool relaxing moment at a time. That’s the new approach and it continues to grow in popularity with social media.
Tell a story. Like any talented movie producer, a great storyteller will make the audience feel the moment. The joy, the pain, the sorrow, whatever the case may be. Your brand can certainly do this, on a smaller scale of course, but the effect is the same. Use sensory perception to make your audience feel something. As a matter of fact, provoking jubilant feelings in customers is actually one of the fastest-growing social trends in recent years.
Also, as your brand develops an ASMR marketing strategy you can utilize the solid current trends of video marketing and the powerful reach of Influencers. We all know that in social media video is the content king and with the rise in popularity of micro-influencers your brand should consider partnering with one to develop and share ASMR content. It’s a win-win situation. The deeper connections you seek with your audience may very well be the result from these collaborations.
What could an alliance with Ally Maque, the self-described “tingle technician” whose ASMRrequests YouTube channel has more than 500,000 subscribers, do for your brand?
Going forward many commercials will continue to integrate ASMR principles to deliver a calm relaxing experience for viewers. This can truly create a powerful connection with a brand. The challenge for marketers continues to be: Can you turn an ad for your brand into an experience? Can you skillfully make your audience feel something? That’s the opportunity.
ASMR: Is It Right for Your Brand?
Sure the popularity of ASMR continues to grow, but your brand should weigh the risks and rewards before diving into this marketing realm. Don’t just do it for the sake of doing it―because it is becoming mainstream. Instead, weigh your options. Is it a good fit for your brand?
For instance, if your business sells landscaping equipment the sound of a full-throttle weed trimmer may be a stretch for an ASMR ad (or a similar product), but if your brand sells the earphones that usher in the relaxing and soothing melodies (to replace the loud trimmer noise), then there might be a connection to be explored further.
There are also a few brands that have created lackluster ASMR campaigns. Their creative content just seems to be missing something. When Applebee’s, for example, released a full hour long video of meat sizzling on a grill last year, titled “[ASMR] One Hour of Soothing Grill Sounds – Sizzling Meat,” it felt like it was overkill.
Sixty minutes. Sizzling meat on a grill … that’s it. No chef, no spatula, no guests, and no drinks. Nada. Now I am sure that some carnivore diehards enjoyed the video but for an ASMR marketing piece it came across as a reach. Perhaps because it was missing a human element to it that’s why it didn’t resonate better with viewers.
The bottom line is that ASMR videos need to include a human component. You don’t want to become known as a brand that flopped. Put another way, if you’re going to offer steak, then make sure the sizzle is up to par.
Another factor to consider for your brand: Remember that ASMR marketing is highly subjective. How folks experience your content and your message will differ based on personalities. Younger generation Ikea fans really enjoyed the Swedish furniture ASMR video. They were in synch with the vibe. While others, the older demographic perhaps, might have difficulty relating to an extended feel good marketing ad such as Ikea’s twenty-plus minute video.
Actually what may happen in the future for ASMR marketing is to create highly targeted ads based on personality types rather than just straight demographics. It’s a lot like music really―subjective. Each of us interprets a song, based on our life experiences, relationships, and preferences, a bit differently. Some really like a particular song while others are telling you to “change the radio station.” It can be hit or miss.
These are all points to be considered if your brand is venturing into the ASMR marketing arena. Do your research, target your customer, and perhaps even hire an expert ASMR consultant such as Dr. Richard.
Considering the Longevity of ASMR Marketing
Will too many brands try ASMR as a marketing tool so that the creative dynamic is diminished? In other words, as ASMR continues to be commercialized, and, perhaps, on the verge of becoming mainstream, it runs the risk of saturating the marketing landscape. Too much is never a good thing.
On social media, and in our culture for that matter, what was once popular can quickly become un-popular. Too many brands cashing in on the ASMR video niche? If that’s the case, ASMR runs the risk of being “gimmicky” and might just be considered a fad. It is a slippery slope indeed.
However, I don’t think that’s the case and neither does the expert – Dr. Richard. In the same recent article by Ms. Williams Richard, who is also a professor at Shenandoah University, goes on to say, “there are many signs indicating ASMR is not a fad or a temporary trend, but a new relaxation technique like yoga, deep breathing, and massage therapy.”
Perhaps the good professor is correct.
If we need further proof that ASMR is not a fad and just might have some staying power, we need to look no further than to Whisperlodge. The interactive spa that provides ASMR treatments continues to book live events and continues to grow its brand.
Creative director, Melinda Lauw, plans to bring the ASMR experience to many more cities and countries. New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles hosted 7 sold-out Whisperlodge performances recently and the demand for intimate whispers in the ‘lodge’ continues to rise.
Along the same lines, there has been a steady increase in the number of Google searches for ASMR in the last few years. It seems that people are genuinely interested in ASMR. Given those facts it doesn’t seem to be a temporary fad, moreover that’s evidence that ASMR is possibly becoming part of our global culture.
However, its ongoing relevance to actually influence product purchase decisions remains to be seen. We will see what the future holds for ASMR videos, campaigns, and ‘whispers.’
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Better known as ASMR. An emerging trend, a new influential player, on a social media marketing field as brands look for new ways to connect with audiences.
We have seen several examples of major brands cleverly using ASMR campaigns to enhance their product appeal; and we explored opportunities for brands to capitalize on the AMSR trend, including partnering with an influencer.
ASMR also taps into a growing sub-culture trend of focusing on being in the moment. Relax and calm your spirit―tune out the constant noise and pressures of a tech driven world. We all need our smartphones yes, but as ASMR experts and YouTube influencers are teaching us, we need a balance of harmony and happiness so much more.
With an eye towards the future we also saw how ASMR is becoming part of the global culture. A mainstay sensory marketing strategy for social media and beyond. ASMR can make you feel something, that’s for sure. The enduring question will be: can you turn a marketing ad into an experience for your audience? That’s the opportunity ASMR provides for your brand. The creative content and narrative is entirely up to you.
I know. It’s unusual for sure, and you may even be thinking that this ASMR stuff is a bit ridiculous, but there is a distinct trend of more brands implementing this psychological marketing approach. It’s not quite Pavlov’s dog classic conditioning, but then on second thought―is it?
The jury may still be out on the final verdict of ASMR marketing but one thing for sure is that this highbrow sensory approach continues to grow in popularity. Your brand would be wise to at least be aware of ASMR marketing, then perhaps “tap in” to your target market using ASMR and then ride that wave to its crest.
What do you think? Keep the narrative going. Share your thoughts.
ASMR: a marketing flash-in-the-pan fad, or the next-level marketing frontier for brands to master?
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Other useful resources: A Guide To Audience Research