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Part 2 of 3: The Power of Sensory Marketing

Part 2 of 3: THE

Blog Post

The evolution of a multisensory experience

Jenna Headshot

Jenna Worrell, Marketing Manager
Product and Vertical Marketing

In part one of this series, we defined sensory marketing as the idea that bodily sensations often unconsciously influence consumer behavior. Now let’s take a look back at how the senses have been used over the past few decades in advertising and marketing.

The evolution of sensory marketing

Back in the 1920s through the Golden Age of Radio (1930-1945), sound was the only way radio advertisers could appeal to listeners. Households across America tuned in to listen to variety shows, music, soap operas, and comedy and drama programs.

Advertisers appealed to sight in the 1940s when they experimented with the use of color and fonts on printed posters and billboards. Once the first television commercial aired — 75 years ago during a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies — sight and sound were used in tandem for maximum impact.

Marketers then introduced in a third sense — smell — which has the ability to link emotions to memories. Although aromatherapy might date back to ancient times, its use in advertising and brand promotion became popular in the 1970s. One interesting example from this period involves casinos. Gambling establishments first introduced fragrances to mask the smell of smoke, but they soon found scents could also enhance consumers’ moods, encourage them to gamble and increase their return visits.

Taste is often considered to be the most intimate of the five senses and also the most uniquely personal. Why? Because our sense of taste is dependent on our saliva, which differs from person to person. If you prefer salty foods, for example, you have saltier saliva. This makes it harder for marketers to cater to taste on a mass scale.

More commonly, retailers use the tactile sense: touch. Touch attracts and entices consumers by encouraging interaction with products. Holding a product can create a sense of ownership, triggering “must-have” purchase decisions.

Sensory marketing leads to branding success

Apple is known for incorporating touch, among other senses, as a key driver of their in-store customer experience. Part three of this series provides real-world examples of how sensory marketing can lead to retail branding success.


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