Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her brother, Craig, skillfully managing...
Written by Jennifer Dublino, on February 23rd, 2012
When you meet someone for the first time, there are two main criteria against which you evaluate the person: warmth and competence. Warmth encompasses how friendly, helpful, trustworthy and kind they are, which helps you decide if the other person is friend or foe. Competence includes how smart, organized, powerful, successful, attractive and rich the other person is. We tend to be attracted to those who are both warm and competent, reluctantly deal with those who are cold and competent, feel sorry for people who are warm but incompetent and completely avoid the cold and incompetent. Why am I telling you this?
According to a new research study by researchers Dr. Susan Fiske from Princeton and Dr. Jill Avery from Harvard, the same evaluation and behavioral patterns exist when people interact with a brand. They found that warmth judgements always happen first and have more relative importance than competence. Further, they estimate that more than 50% of purchase decisions hinge on the customer’s warmth and competence evaluations of the brand.
When you are working with a company to add sensory elements to its branding strategy, it helps to be clear on what binds customers to a brand. Because scent in particular is closely tied to our emotional state, it can heavily influence how customers react to the client’s brand.
Unfortunately, most companies are sadly lacking in both of these areas. The study, done with over 5,000 adults and 41 leading brands, showed that most brands fall short on the warmth scale and are perceived as selfish, greedy and concerned only with their own short term interests rather than the benefit of the customer. This lack presents an opportunity for you to help these brands improve customer perceptions, and thereby sales, customer loyalty and long-term success.
While both warmth and competence are important to building strong brands, each brand has its own unique formula of warmth and competence, based on company history, culture and industry among other factors. For example, a high-end investment firm might need 30% warmth so that clients trust them with their money and 70% competence so that clients feel comfortable that they will generate good returns on their investment. A bridal store, on the other hand, may need 80% warmth because of the personal and emotional nature of getting married and only 20% competence so the bride can be sure that the dress is of sufficient quality.
You can base your fragrance recommendations on the balance between the two criteria. For the investment firm, you might suggest a leather smell with citrus notes to reinforce the firm’s competence and for the bridal shop, a mix of florals with vanilla and amber.