The Sensation Seeker

The Sensation Seeker

Author | Sources

Bruno Roeder


Digitalisation and behavioural science

Daily hunt for the thrill!


What to do when Sensation Seekers on the net don’t react to “normal” ads, storytellings and contents anymore, because they think they are too boring and not “exciting” enough? Is this phenomenon on the way to digitalization or on the fine line between innovation, courage and knowledge about cognitive information processing in the age of digitalization not necessarily to be considered?


“Hello, Anina Wullschläger, speaking” – her voice on the phone sounds like an unironed pyjama suit: wrinkled, tired, bored.


The caller, a born salesman and enthusiast, who has already celebrated his previously won “great leads”, is not going to be put off by this:


An advertisement with important content, we have placed… “Isn’t that wonderful, dear lady, a gift for you, an enrichment in the jungle of the many options you can find on the net?


“I can’t remember any Ad. How and why should I? I delete almost everything immediately, click it away, so that I can dedicate myself to my actual project on the net. No, Mr. Caller, I don’t remember your funny news ticker, Ad, LinkedIn message or whatever, because I get even more bored with foreign newsletters than with banners that are constantly running across my screen!


Anina Wullschläger, it is important to know this, because she only reads and looks with excited eyes somewhere, if her excitement level is already sufficiently whipped up. As soon as she gets up at the crack of dawn, she goes on a hunt for the first sensory impressions: iPhone, iPad, radio, Facebook, LinkedIn, mails, chats, television – wow! It’s not 8 o’clock yet and the good lady has already taken an overdose of sensory stimuli.


Bad-tempered and frustrated by the sourness of this saturated world, she then enters her office and opens her overflowing agenda on her DELL: Meeting, meeting, meeting – lunch – long meeting – end of day. Then she rapidly deletes almost all of her cursed incoming e-mails, except when one in Titian red or one with no right content appears as a nervous moving image, a hectic collection of images in short-time editing intervals – this turns her on; and later she squats in tough meetings armed with iPhone, iPad and three private smartphones. These are all about programmatic buying, microtrageting, influencer marketing and a thick load of content for the newly purchased consumer addresses, which should somehow correspond to their “target groups”. This bores Ms. Wullschläger more and more every day, which frustrates her to the bone, but the salvation until the longed-for “sustainable food” at lunchtime is her mobile “Grätli” (devices) on which it vibrates every minute, buzzes semi-mutely, flashes, buzzes, pops up; their “Grätli” with the latest, brightly coloured emojis clutching them ironically, their “Grätli” with deep dark news about the systematic drowning of many brands without any US and UAP.




Anina Wullschläger is a sensation seeker! An “online identity” that hunts for stimuli. With a “low initial level of arousal, she seeks rather exciting stimuli”. In her analog-digital life she is constantly looking for new stimuli to “maintain the desired level of her stimulation”. She ranks on the so-called “Sensation Seeking Scale” on the NISS rank, which can already be described as “slightly pathological stimulus addiction”.


She translates her continuous “Thrill Seeking” into her private and professional life at full throttle: life-threatening jumps from sports planes, deep-sea diving at the very deepest points of the Pacific Ocean, five holidays a year, 24-hour trips around the globe to Tokyo, shopping excesses in Dubai and Muscat.


12 – 21 year olds roaring to a Youtube or TikTok Rock on the tables in their classrooms. This video is “cool”, “cool pics” and “cool music”: 26,000 kids have already watched it, three have licked it. At least.


Unfortunately, Ms. Wullschläger has never heard the term Sensation Seeking. If she had ever really been able to study and hear the term Sensation Seeking on the countless “MarketingBAMMS”, she would know about its founder, Marvin Zuckerman. A great researcher, an American who has helped smart companies and corporations make billions in sales. Marvin Zuckerman, who is concerned with people, their personality traits, who did what many marketing people would have to do: put the consumer at the center of their actions and not trends, hype or technological feasibility for people who call companies “target groups” but don’t know them at all from their changed behavior.


So what is the credo, the brand-relevant result of Zuckerman, for true brand experts?


People are always looking for sensory impressions. He also runs after them. Digitalization has created and continues to create a catapult of stimuli that mix and cross with the stimuli of the analog world (other stimulus structures). Brands should convey physiological sensory impressions. But beware: because we are constantly exposed to stimuli, the brand should not meet the consumer quickly, rapidly, colourfully, garishly, but should meet him, the sophisticated Sensation Seeker, in his primal feeling (archaic): by the way, this is exactly why cat videos work so well, they are “unexcited, calm, generate protective instincts, awaken feelings of security and childhood memories (primal feelings)” (cf. P. Hammelstein, a student of Zuckerman).


The reversal of the thrill strategy is therefore good for brands and could look like this in digital communication: First of all, sense and listen to the basic attitude and mood of hundreds of thousands of online identities on the net (identity listening). They, the consumers, are then touched in their primal feelings with images and text in which brand messages are gently woven in. The result, proven by Zuckerman, Hammelstein or R.H. Hoyle, is pure, exquisite brand success: The Sensation Seeker, tired of irritation, turns – taken seriously in his different moods – to the brand, perceives it light-footedly, starts to be interested in it and is inclined to buy it.


If this knowledge transfer has satisfied your personal “Sensation Seeking” and you would now like to look beyond the digital edge of your plate together with us, then please send us a message…


Frau in Digitalwelt