Non Verbal Communication Concept Cultural Studies Essay

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Consumers can recognise brands by their sensory appeal even when brand names, logos and descriptions are removed. In today's age of multiple brands for similar products, marketers the world over are looking at innovative ways of ensuring brand loyalty. While the inherent tangible characteristics of the product used to be enough, that is no longer the case anymore. Not only are those the most easily replicable characteristics of all, the consumer's senses are rather fickle. Unless the tangible factor is absolutely unmistakable, most people tend to not know one cola from another, since they both appear to be endorsed by similar celebrities, sponsor similar occasions, etc.

Enter the age of sensory branding, where the consumer is engaged at the most basic of level : his/her five senses. Sensory branding is about involving all sense of customer into branding activities of product. Most of the branding activity focuses on just eyes and ears. Sensory branding goes beyond it and claims that smell can generate higher value of brand recall. Branding is all about creating emotional ties between product and consumer. But emotion is not only limited to eyes and ears. If emotions are generated through smell, touch and feel then why it can't be used in building a brand? That is the fundamental question asked by one of the revolutionaries in the field of marketing : Martin Lindstrom.

Lindstrom's basic point is simple - brands that appeal to multiple senses will be more successful than brands that focus only on one or two. These appeals can be part of the brand's advertising, like using a distinctive colour and logo in a consistent manner, or part of the product itself, like a phone ringtone or the fragrance of a soap product. He points to Singapore Airlines as the pinnacle of sensory branding. They not only employ the more common consistent visual themes one might expect from an airline, but incorporate the same scent, Stefan Floridian Waters, in the perfume worn by flight attendants, in their hot towels, and other elements of their service. Flight attendants must meet stringent appearance criteria, and wear uniforms made from fine silk which incorporate elements of the cabin decor. They strive to make every sensory element of their customer interaction both appealing, and, equally importantly, consistent from encounter to encounter. Lindstrom credits Singapore Airlines' perennial position atop travellers' preference rankings to these efforts.

Some other very interesting examples of sensory branding are highlighted below :

According to recent study conducted in America, the tempo of background music affects the pace at which shoppers move and diners eat. Faster music in a restaurant can speed up the flow of diners. Slower music can lead people to spend more time in stores, so that they are more likely to buy something.

Some super markets in North America are connected to bakeries by hundreds of meters of pipeline. The pipelines carry the aroma of fresh bread to the stores entrances.

When Rolls-Royce buyers began complaining in the mid-1990s that the new cars didn't live up to their predecessors, researchers tracked the problem to its source: the smell! Using a 1965 Silver Cloud as a reference point, the company deconstructed the scent, identifying 800 separate elements. It then recalibrated the aroma of leather and mahogany and now sprays it under the seats to re-create the scent of a classic "Roller."

Break Fast cereal manufacturer Kellogg's has created unique sound of crunch with the help of the Danish Laboratory.

Mercedes-Benz has 12 engineers dedicated to the sound of opening and closing of doors.

While these might seem to be quite outlandish (and frankly, ridiculous to someone who doesn't work in the cut-throat world of marketing), the very fact that bit organizations like the one highlighted above are willing to invest such large chunks of their budgets indicates the importance this form of branding has assumed. There are some products in which sensory branding can be implemented effectively i.e. pen (Smell of Ink), book publishing (smell of pages of book ), retail etc.

Primarily sensory branding starts with the appreciation of sensual pleasure orientation. In India, this practiced has been followed by some of the big brands. For example, Pepsi launched aroma centres in some cities which emanates the smell of coffee which attracts the attention of passers-by to its newly launched cafechino cold drink. Krackjack the biscuit with the dual taste of sweet and salt in one is probably one of the earliest examples of sensory branding in the Indian context (which was followed by 50:50 from Britannia). While significant stimuli a consumer faces (stimuli means sensory information directed to any aspect of the senses) is visual in nature, marketers can tap other senses towards creative branding.

Certain brands of TVs have introduced high output devices. Liril 's advertising campaign during the recent times highlights the sensual aspect of touch. Tropicana's pure fruit juice proposition at a premium though generally associated with the health platform also moves the consumer towards the sensory appreciation of taste.

The visual aspect of sensory perception has been translated into a stereotype (projecting an image or a picture that is widely held by the consumer in general) by a number of brands in the cosmetic and personal care fields. Fair&Lovely and Parachute are examples.

One of the most improbable examples comes from a rather surprising source. Mr. Kishore Biyani, MD and Chairman of the Future Group, confesses in his book "It happened in India" that it doesn't not give feeling of "Sabse Sasta", unless customers in Big Bazaar don't feel a crowd of people around and rub their shoulders against each other.

Sensory Branding can also have negative impact if it is not appropriate to the environment. The smell of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies would be appropriate in a bakery or coffee shop but the same smell gives negative feeling when it is used in toiletries area of retail shop. The consumer's brain will process it differently.

It has become quite clear, therefore, that the sooner marketers realize that sensory branding is the way of the future, the sooner their brands become future-proof and manage to separate themselves effectively from their competition.

Importance of learning Non Verbal Communication in the changing social perspective

The world has shrunk immensely in just a few years. Now, different cultures the world over are getting a sense of each other, thanks to faster transport, improved communication and relative peace and, consequently, trade. In such a time, nonverbal communication has assumed a position of immense importance, because verbal communication only delivers a small part (around 40%, according to studies) of the actual message. The other 60% is purely based on body language, emotions, etc.

What really reinforces the importance of nonverbal communication, however, is in the diplomatic context. Quite simply, what may seem perfectly acceptable in some cultures may be considered the height of rudeness in another. The importance of nonverbal communication cannot be understated, especially when talking about different cultures, as differences only multiply the more different the cultures are. This is because we tend to look for nonverbal cues when verbal messages are unclear or ambiguous, as they are more likely to be across cultures (especially when different languages are being used). Since nonverbal behaviour arises from our cultural common sense - our ideas about what is appropriate, normal, and effective as communication in relationships - we use different systems of understanding gestures, posture, silence, spatial relations, emotional expression, touch, physical appearance, and other nonverbal cues. Cultures also attribute different degrees of importance to verbal and nonverbal behaviour.

Some elements of nonverbal communication are quite similar. Research has shown, for instance, that emotions of enjoyment, anger, fear, sadness, disgust and surprise are expressed quite similarly the world over. A frown would elicit no doubt in someone's mind, since it is the universally accepted facial expression for annoyance or anger. The differences, however, might lie in whether airing those expressions in public is acceptable or not, and by whom. For example, it is widely considered to be acceptable for a woman to show fear or anxiety. But if a man shows these emotions, he is considered to be weak. The complexity of this study can be easily illustrated when one factors in the fact that certain anatomical differences also lead to differences in interpretation of nonverbal cues! The obvious example comes from China, Japan and the Koreas. The structure of the faces of the people from those countries (the entire mongoloid race, for that matter) makes it very difficult to determine whether the expression on the face suggests happiness or anger or sadness. And, considering the cultural context, expression anger or sadness is frowned upon.

What further compounds the problem of interpretation is that the level of nonverbal communication varies wildly with cultures. Cultures like those of the United States and Canada are classified as 'low-context' in terms of nonverbal communication. This means that people of these countries pay less importance to what is expressed through body language, and more to what is literally said. This, however, does NOT mean that nonverbal communication is any less important. In contrast, cultures like Japan or Latin America read heavily into nonverbal cues. This is especially true in the orient, where the entire meaning of a sentence can change based upon the way it was said. Interpreting nonverbal cues is, in fact considered to be an art form in itself.

These differences of interpretation may lead to conflict, or escalate existing conflict. Suppose a Japanese person is explaining her absence from negotiations due to a death in her family. She may do so with a smile, based on her cultural belief that it is not appropriate to inflict the pain of grief on others. For a Westerner who understands smiles to mean friendliness and happiness, this smile may seem incongruous and even cold, under the circumstances. Even though some facial expressions may be similar across cultures, their interpretations remain culture-specific. It is important to understand something about cultural starting-points and values in order to interpret emotions expressed in cross-cultural interactions.

The field of proxemics, i.e, ways of relating to space, is another area where cultural differences are quite obvious. Different cultures have different interpretations of the concept of personal space, with some valuing it very highly, while others don't consider it at all. Across cultures, people have very different ideas about what is the appropriate distance to be kept between two parties during a polite conversation or even an intense negotiation. North Americans tend to prefer a large amount of space, perhaps because they are surrounded by it in their homes and countryside. Europeans tend to stand more closely with each other when talking, and are accustomed to smaller personal spaces. People from the Middle East, in contrast, have little to no concept of personal space, frequently standing very close to each other, touching each other's shoulder and hugging. Indian men are frequently found holding hands and walking, and consider it to be a completely normal practice among friends. In western society, however, this would be construed, quite easily, as a practice adopted by homosexual couples, which isn't always the case.

The difficulty with space preferences is not that they exist, but the judgments that get attached to them. It is a frequent report among American and Saudi diplomats that meetings are often an uncomfortable affair for one side. Saudis are Arabs, meaning that they consider hugging to be a friendly overture to a serious discussion. Americans, on the other hand, feel that this turns the conversation informal, as high officials of state don't usually hug. While the Saudis thing of the American reluctance to hugging as a demonstration of high handedness, Americans feel that the Saudi propensity to hug is a demonstration of aggression or pushiness.

An interesting twist to proxemics involves the degree of comfort we feel moving furniture or other objects. Some cultures are very particular about the way furniture is organized in the home or even in the office. Germans, for instance, are extremely particular that everything should be in its own place. It is a common gag that all Germans suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when it comes to the way things are placed. On the other hand, some cultures emphasize on placing furniture and knick-knacks in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the guest rather than the host, in quite sharp contrast to the previous example.

It is fairly obvious to the untrained student of nonverbal communication, that this field is quite complex. In fact, this is probably one of the reasons why the job of ambassador is such a highly paid one!

Classical Dance forms as Non Verbal communication

Of all the different types of nonverbal communication forms that exist in the world, none are more loaded with hidden meanings than dance. Dance requires the same underlying faculty in the brain for conceptualization, creativity and memory as does verbal language in speaking and writing. As means of self-expression, both dance and reading/writing have vocabulary (steps and gestures in dance), grammar (rules for putting the vocabulary together) and meaning. Dance, however, assembles (choreographs) these elements in a manner that more often resembles poetry, with its ambiguity and multiple, symbolic and elusive meanings.

When dancing, sometimes personal space can be invaded. Social distances are usually from 4 to 12 feet. Social distance is what is used in social settings, but on the dance floor, this all changes. People that have just met could be within the intimate distance, from touching to 18 inches. The closer it gets, the more seductive it gets.

The medium of dance naturally invites more physical contact than many other types of nonverbal communication. It becomes the norm to touch one another while dancing. This touching could be unwanted, sexual, friendly, or passionate. Even though considerable research has been conducted on haptic affection displays, few studies have explored the use of these displays while dancing. Haptics and proxemics are prominent codes as we interpret social interaction.

Dance can be a very seductive form of non-verbal communication. There are many different styles of dance. The non-verbal communication that comes in the form of the hand movement, the hips rotating and swaying to the rhythm, whether heard or a figment of the imagination and the eye contact, will speak volumes to the intended audience. The clothing, costumes and hairs styles used in many native dances represent a form of non-verbal communication. This form of communication usually tells a story with the body language, posture, facial expression, eye contact and gestures. Dance styles have been in use for decades and continue to be used to express communication in a non-verbal form. In some cultures, dance is still used in its full sexual context, as a form of seduction. And lest we forget, the most obvious example of dance being used in its sexual context doesn't even come from humans. Birds such as the Peacock and Bird of Paradise use dance as a mating ritual, and females often reject potential mates if their dance is considered inadequate. Of course, there is a quite obvious biological reason for this : birds that cannot perform these dances well are usually injured or genetically indisposed, both of which are adequate reasons for females to reject them.

Classical Indian Dance forms vary from those that tell a story (such as Kathak) to seductive dances, such as the Mohiniyattam. In all dances, the movements of the eyes, the neck, the hands and the feet, each tells a different story. It is the sheer variety of moves that are possible in these classical forms of dance that results in classical dance being lauded as one of the purest forms of expression possible. Considered to be one of the toughest art forms to master, classical dance still draws huge crowds in performances the world over.