Even in experiential marketing, actually using the full range of senses is rarely considered, which is unusual given how it is an exceptionally powerful tool. With an agency called Sense, it would be somewhat of an oversight if we never used any sensory marketing. So how can we focus on the five senses that draw people in and grab their undivided “bodily” attention?
The five senses are inextricably linked with human memory and emotions and can greatly enhance consumer engagement with a brand. They can be used in different ways, and are not just limited to food and perfume brands:
This is the most obvious one: you use your eyes to determine whether a product looks good. Do you choose an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy or HTC phone, do you prefer a metallic cover or plastic one? Again all this is down to preference, but we can see (pun intended) how sight is used to attract consumer attention. This is an area that has been utilised efficiently by several marketing agencies. Professor Charles Spence created an experiment that demonstrated how the influence of colour can change consumers’ perception of the taste of wine. Red light and sweet music is the ideal combination, leading to an increase in enjoyment by as much as 9%. Whereas green light and sour music increased freshness and reduced intensity by 14%. So it would be a smart move for marketers to evaluate colour schemes when creating campaigns.
This too is quite obvious: would you rather buy a cashmere jumper via online shopping or would you rather go into a store and check the quality and feel of the material in question? Going into the store makes more sense. Hovis came up with the idea of packaging crustless bread using soft-touch lacquer, thus echoing the softness of the product.
Then there is taste, which is most often demonstrated via promotions and sampling. As consumers, I am certain that you have experienced food samples being distributed to you as you wander around your favourite supermarket. It is an area that has well and truly been exhausted by food and drink brands, and they may do well to begin looking at the other senses (especially smell), in order to add more originality and a spark to their sampling methods!
Brands have recently started exploring innovative ways to use ‘smell’ to entice consumers. The options are unlimited, you could make the swimsuit section of a store smell like suntan lotion. When you smell the suntan lotion you start to subconsciously think about your time as a kid enjoying the beach, and just like that you buy the swimsuit, and only later realise that you didn’t actually need the item. It is this strong connection of your emotions being closely linked to your buying habits. The reason behind this has been linked to the fact that our olfactory bulb (the part of the brain that helps us process smells) is located close to the amygdala and hippocampus part of the brain.
It may not be obvious, but if you think about the last time you visited an HMV store, did they play the same music on the PA system as they did in DFS or Ikea? Probably not. The music at DFS would have been tranquil and calm, allowing you to feel at home and imagining how the bed or sofa would feel in the comfort of your own home. Again this mind/body connection ensures maximum relaxation.
Selfridges installed a ‘silent room’ in 2013, as part of their ‘No Noise’ campaign. Here (or should I say hear) sound was cleverly used, in the fact that there was none. No music, no phones, no speaking. It was a basically a room where consumers could relax and unwind, and be at one with themselves. It demonstrates that hearing isn’t always limited to what you can hear, you can also use the sense of hearing by taking sound out of the equation altogether. Simplicity can be key.
Sensory marketing is such a vital tool in engaging with consumers because it taps into the mindset of consumers on a subconscious level. Consumers don’t feel as if they are being marketed to directly, instead they feel in-tune and go along with the flow of the experience. What better way to develop consumer engagement than to connect with their minds on a subconscious level, instilling positive connotations and messages about the brand into their minds.
A study conducted in the UK and USA revealed that in today’s digital world, one in two people feel increasingly disconnected from the physical world and seven in 10 people crave experiences that stimulate their senses. If that isn’t a better excuse to incorporate sensory marketing into your marketing experience, what actually is? Brands must realise that emotions make us feel and act in different ways, and if they are successful in tapping into our emotive state of mind, then this can lead to a much stronger consumer/brand connection.