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Part 1 of 3: The Power of Sensory Marketing

Part 1 of 3: THE

Blog Post

Using the senses to amplify your marketing

Jenna Worrell 2019

Jenna Worrell
Director of Marketing

In our recent blog post and accompanying white paper, we touched on the growing trend among brands and retailers to incorporate multiple senses into their merchandising efforts. Over the course of this three-part series of posts, we’ll take a closer look at how this popular form of marketing has evolved and review a few examples that showcase its effectiveness.

Start with the basics

According to Jacquette Consulting, sensory marketing “builds on the idea that bodily sensations unconsciously influence consumer behavior.” These powerful responses can usually stimulate emotions and trigger memories more than traditional marketing. This principle is based on the concept that rational behaviors are guided by the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion.

Sensory marketing is based on the idea that the sensations to which our bodies are exposed help determine the decisions we make, sometimes unconsciously — and even impulsively in some cases. Car buying is a prime example. Sure, MSRP, MPG, make and model matter, but so do the subconscious cues that are built into the car. These include the sound the door makes when it’s closed; the feel of the plush, comfortable seats; the sound of the engine (especially in luxury sports cars) and even that new car smell. Automobile manufacturers are quite experienced at crafting these sensory characteristics to influence consumers to purchase their vehicles.

The science behind the senses

In his review of Martin Lindstrom’s book, Brand Sense: Building Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound, Roger Dooley explains Lindstrom’s basic argument: Brands that appeal to multiple senses tend to be more successful than brands that focus only on one or two. Lindstrom’s work is based in part on a global research project that studied the relationship between branding and sensory awareness. Another element of Lindstrom’s argument is that a brand should be identifiable even when parts of its marketing program, such as its logo, are removed. Does a color alone signify your brand? A particular scent or sound, such as Intel’s “Bong” sound?

To learn more about the science behind sensory marketing, check out this article from Current Opinion in Psychology. It’s co-authored by Aradhna Krishna, director of the Sensory Marketing Laboratory at the University of Michigan and a foremost expert in the field. Krishna astutely notes that over the last few decades, the marketing paradigm between consumers and brands has changed dramatically, shifting from one-sided monologues to dialogs where customers provide feedback to multidimensional conversations.

Read part two of this series to learn how the five senses were used in the early days of advertising. In part three, we conclude with examples of how major brands are using sensory marketing today.


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