SYDNEY: The ASMR trend is likely to fizzle out, but in the meantime there are opportunities for some brands to engage consumers.

ASMR – Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – is purported to cause positive feelings of a relaxed nature and a distinct tingling sensation, most often felt on the skin. Brands such as KFC and Pepsi have explored this in their branded video content.

But according to Dr Peter Steidl, principal at Neurothinking, the scientific basis of the phenomenon is shaky, with clinical applications mostly on an anecdotal level.

In an exclusive article for Warc, Steidl examines the scientific foundations for ASMR and finds that the 'priming' effect on consumers is likely to have a bigger impact than ASMR itself.

"It has been proven again and again that telling somebody that a certain condition exists – or is widespread – leads to them feeling this very condition," he writes, adding that his opinion is that the number of pseudo-ASMR cases is likely to outnumber the actual cases by a significant factor.

Steidl believes a key factor that might boost the spread of ASMR: many consumers are immersed in a highly dynamic digital world, and ASMR videos – which offer relaxation – can be an antidote.

"ASMR videos are nothing if not relaxing. In fact, a pre-condition to experience their effect is to try to relax and just tune into the sensory stimuli one receives," Steidl notes.

For a brand that would benefit from an association with 'relaxing yet exciting' or 'quiet excitement', Steidl believes there is definite merit in aligning the brand with the ASMR surge especially given the low entry cost.

"This is unlikely to be part of a long-term strategy, but rather a tactical move that capitalises on a current development"," he writes.

"For brands positioned as dynamic and exciting, ASMR is unlikely to be the best strategy. Marketers with these brands should focus on amplifying what makes your brand famous rather than jump on the bandwagon of ASMR."

Data sourced from Warc