People drinking Corona around the world seems to know the right way of drinking it by placing a slice of lime in the bottle’s neck. And if a bartender doesn’t serve Corona that way people do get offended. But do you know why this ritual?
Was it for sanitizing the bottle rim before drinking?
Was it to add to the taste?
Was it an old Mexican tradition?
Well the answer is none of the above.
The ritual was invented in California on 12th December 1981 to test how fast a simple ritual can spread.
We humans have grown-up with some or the other ritual around us. It reminds us of the special occasions in our lives; candles on a birthday, birthday bumps, and the arti during pooja, eating dhai shakar before stepping out of the house, etc. These rituals give us a sense of connectivity and belonging. Friends or groups form their own rituals over a period of time which bonds them together and if someone wants to be a part of that group needs to follow the same rituals. I remember during my AIESEC days globally we all used to have same dance steps for a particular song, so even if I went to a new country I could easily blend in with my fellow AIESEC members.
Marketers have realized the power of rituals and built brands around it. Have you wondered how Kitkat or Oreo has become one of the leading brands?
Sure, the product has a lot to do with it, but so too does the ritual of eating a Kitkat and Oreo. No matter where you go the whole world over, people just seem to know the right way to eat them. Separating your Oreo and dunking it in milk and breaking a KitKat into halves and having it. Associating a brand with some ritual can have a powerful effect on consumer loyalty. They are more than willing to pay an additional buck for the experience that brand offers. As consumers, the association of a product with an event (popcorn and the movies, beer with watching sports) adds to the enjoyment because it makes the occasion feel complete. Similarly ritual provides a fun way of interacting with the brand.
John Howard lays out the six attributes a ritual needs:
- It should continue a behavior that already exists, not be one that is “forced” on the brand
As Howard observes, “Ritual is about the people who do it, not the brand itself”
It should be consistent – because otherwise of course it cannot be repeated
It should be specific – as in directly associated with that brand
It should be relevant – it needs to make sense to people, regardless of whether it is necessary or not
It needs to be easy – because difficulty acts as an effective barrier to entry
It needs to be shareable – according to Howard, in order for that to happen, the ritual itself must be visible, understandable and replicable.
Creating a ritual around your brand will help you garner customer loyalty from your existing customers and attract new ones and they will spread the word. And in this day and age where there is a new brand every day, having a ritual around your brand will be a good way to build your brand.