Autonomous sensory meridian response, abbreviated to ASMR—the spine-tingling sensation created by amplified everyday sounds, from a hushed whisper to the crumbling of powder or hair being brushed—has become an online phenomenon over the past decade. ASMR artists boast huge followings, including Life with Mak, with over 1.6 million YouTube subscribers, and WhispersRed, with 861,000 subscribers (both as of March 2020).
Brands have embraced the concept, too. In 2019, Coach released a series of videos that highlighted the sounds of the artisan techniques employed in making its luxury goods, and Gucci asked some of the genre’s key artists to interpret the Gucci Ace sneakers through the prism of ASMR videos.
Given that ASMR has followers hooked on its feel-good effects, it’s no surprise that it’s now being woven into wellness rituals. In 2019, Emma Smith of WhispersRed released Unwind Your Mind, published by Harper Collins in the United States, which extols the wellbeing benefits of ASMR. The phenomenon’s wellbeing properties are supported by 2018 research from the University of Sheffield and Manchester Metropolitan University, which found that among those subjects who experienced ASMR, there was “significantly greater reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos, compared to those who do not experience AMSR,” as well as “significant increases in positive emotions including relaxation and feelings of social connection.”