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Brands Embrace The Massive Popularity Of ASMR

May 29, 2019 Sarah Cavill

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) generates 2.9 million searches monthly on YouTube. The fourth highest ranking search term on YouTube. Leveraging this new wildly popular trend for recreational web surfers looking for different ways to relax, brands are incorporating the soothing technique into their marketing campaigns.

Brands Bank On Psychological Reactions To ASMR-Techniques In Marketing

The use of ASMR by brands targets consumers who have a psychological, “scalp-tingling” reaction when they hear certain sounds. Whether the ASMR sounds are whispers, oranges being peeled, crinkly fabric or a woman eating chicken nuggets (viewed 40 million times on YouTube), ASMR intends to provide a relaxing, happy physical reaction for many consumers.

“From a psychological point of view, ASMR has got potential to tell us how the brain is wired up for the different senses integrating together, because you’re experiencing tactile tingling sensations without any actual physical input,” said Tom Hostler, a psychology lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, who has been studying ASMR since 2015.

KFC, known for their innovative marketing strategies, incorporated ASMR techniques into their Finger Lickin’ Good Vibes spot. What looks and sounds like soothing rainfall, is actually chicken frying. “This [the ASMR crowd] is a community that is absolutely infatuated and enthusiastic about the sensorial experience of sound,” said Kevin Hochman, President and Chief Concept Officer at KFC. “There's a lot of comfort that's associated with ASMR, and that's what our food delivers.”

Other brands embracing ASMR include Ikea, Pepsi, Zippo and Michelob Ultra. Michelob Ultra took a risk with their ASMR Super Bowl ad featuring a whispery Zoe Kravitz. The brand was unsure whether such a quiet spot would reach the noisy Super Bowl crowds. However, the Michelob Ultra spot has been viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube and had a pop culture moment after the Super Bowl, making it into a segment on Jimmy Fallon.

Younger Audiences Are Interested In Consuming And Creating ASMR Content

Over half of ASMR searches are on mobile devices and viewers tend to be 18-24 year olds, which could indicate that ASMR is a marketing strategy well-suited to reaching younger audiences. ASMR has also found its way into rap music and onto robust Spotify playlists, where it’s primarily used as a meditation and sleep aid.

Partnerships between brands and ASMRtists (ASMR creators) are becoming more common. ASMRtists, who tend to skew younger, feature brand promotions in their videos, functioning as influencers and raising the profiles of their brands and that of the featured items. Some ASMRtists generate millions of dollars in ad revenue from successful YouTube channels.

The distinctive appeal of ASMR content allows marketers to attract consumers in new and innovative ways. “People try and ignore most adverts, but people search out videos that give them ASMR, and when they watch them, they wear headphones, stare intently and block out all other distractions. That’s an advertiser’s dream,” said Hostler.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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