Sensory Marketing: What Can Your Brand Learn from It?

Here is a little exercise for you (here at Printsome, we do personalised t-shirts and LOVE creative exercises): think of the brand Apple, just for a minute.

Done? Ok, what were the first things that came to mind? Chances are that images of an iPhone, Apple TV, the Mac Store, a Mac Book, and maybe even the new iWatch came to mind, but there was probably something that you didn’t see, but hear.

Even though the Mac startup sound has evolved since its first rendition in 1984, it has remained the same and not by chance. Even Wall-E used it in the self-titled 2008 movie.

Consumers relate to brands in ways more than just visual. Every time we bite a Magnum ice cream bar and we hear that “cracking” sound, whenever we walk into a ZARA store and we smell that singular “spicy” scent, or when we taste an IKEA hot dog (may it be horse meat or not) – we are interacting with the brand way beyond sliding our credit cards. Senses trigger strong emotions and memories in us. Brands know this and they exploit it to their advantage, it is called “Sensory Marketing”.

How small brands can take advantage of Sensory Marketing

In simple terms sensory marketing influences buying behaviour:

Sensual experience + creation of desire = product purchase

This is a marketing method that aims to entice the consumer and appeal to their senses. Sensory marketing stimulates feelings and makes us believe we need the product for sale.

Sensory Marketing for small brands

Create the desire

Consider your brand and how it appeals to each of the five senses. Depending on what you’re selling the senses will take a different priority. Flowers will appeal to sight and smell, clothing to touch and sight, food and drink to taste and sight, music to hearing – note how sight appears in the majority of our sensory perceptions.

Effective copy and images can also appeal to the senses. For example, an ‘aged in oak caskets fine wine’ probably sounds more appetising than the ‘house red’. The same thing goes for the ‘mouth-watering frisson of freshly home-grown vegetables’ versus the ‘peas and carrots’.

 

How to make sensory marketing work harder for your brand

Let’s imagine your brand is a furniture brand. You need to appeal to the customer’s senses of sight, touch and smell. We want to see furniture that looks good, is pleasing to the touch and smells of wood or furniture polish. So how do you use the power of the senses to transmit the desire for a new piece of furniture to enhance the customer’s home into a high-end sale?

The furniture store needs to be inviting and encourage the customer to touch and feel at their leisure. Background music and pleasing scents can stimulate a relaxing home environment. The whole consumer experience needs to be a story created to make that person’s life seem better if they buy the furniture. The idea is that they will be happy and more satisfied if they buy a leather sofa, new dining table or bed. These tactics create a positive feeling for your brand, that you are offering something good quality and appealing.desire in marketing

This idea can be applied to many brands, no matter what the product. The important factor is to consider the message you want to get across and how you are going to convey that sensory message to your target audience.

Video is another powerful way to appeal to the senses. This is why property companies give tours of home interiors, holiday companies show clips of the local area and many companies use tutorials to show how a product works. YouTube is an increasingly popular marketing method that many smaller brands can use to promote. It’s free, easy to use and can demonstrate the ‘live’ product, which can sometimes do much more than a simple copy on a page.

The benefits of sensory marketing

Customer loyalty

To bring your brand to life it needs to create the right sensory experience and draw on the senses of the potential customer. Successful sensory marketing can induce:

  • Brand loyalty – ‘I like the taste of those biscuits so I’ll try the brand of chocolate next’
  • An immediate sale – ‘I’ll buy it now as it feels and smells good’
  • A positive experience – ‘this company appeals to me so I’ll buy more of their products’

By using sensory marketing for your brand you can create a subconscious influence to engage and inspire. Consider the simple fact that if your brand appeals to three senses rather than just one you are three times more likely to make a sale. We live in a multi-sensory world and brands can use this to grow their market share and increase awareness.

5 Ways Brands Sell Through Your Senses

The importance of senses and what they trigger in our minds haven’t gone unnoticed to marketers. These are 5 ways you can use them:

To trigger emotions

As we stated before, smell is a powerful tool to trigger emotions in people. You may not end up infatuated to the point of neglecting your everyday responsibilities as with the Amortentia potion, but the right scent can still change your mood pretty drastically when you least expect it. For example, the American chain store Barnes & Noble sprays a scent of crisp new books and fresh coffee beans in their stores to relax their clients. If you’re a bookworm like me, then that’s more than enough to escape from a stressful day, even if it’s just for a little while.

To trigger memories

The scent of fresh cut grass can take you back to summer vacations when you were a kid and the smell of Piña Colada may remind you of that trip to the Dominican Republic you did a few years back – you know, when you didn’t have to do anything but chill out on a deck chair and sunbathe? A travel agency may use one of these scents to make you reminisce and therefore motivate you to spend your money on a plane ticket to the caribbean. Studies have shown that clients are more likely to buy if they associate the product with a pleasant smell. The opposite can be said about bad smells.

To organise their customers

Some big department stores use different aromas on different sections of the venue. Sometimes they’ll use a more feminine “flowery” scent on the feminine section and a more masculine “musky” fragrance on the gentleman’s area. Tests have shown that both men and women don’t tend to linger when they enter an area that smells like the opposite gender. For example, the Stradivarius store which only sells women clothes has got a very distinct “Girl’s Perfume” smell when compared to its sister Zara that sells clothes for both sexes and has got a more “spicy” scent.

Zara store

To attract buyers

Whoever has walked pass an Abercrombie & Fitch store can recall it’s very pungent “Fierce” scent. A few good years have passed since the last time I entered one of their establishments, but I can still very well tell you when I’m near one because the fragrance is so bloody strong! Nowadays there are specialised companies that on top of designing branded aromas also install a scent spreading device. This is not meant only to give the venue an atmosphere, but also to reach out to potential customers that may find themselves nearby and like “bees to honey” attract them. Honestly, it doesn’t do the trick for me, but then again, I am not a blond, six-pack-having, sixteen year-old surfer – hence not their target audience.

To create fidelity

Fashion brands spend millions and millions of pounds on creating new perfumes and then, when they finally decide on a scent, they spend even more money to protect the formula. The perfume Chanel No. 5, arguably the most famous perfume in the world, has barely (or at all) evolved since its release in 1921. Brands use smells to create a loyal consumer base. Considering most people are reluctant to change, sales would probably suffer if the scent was altered. Let’s take another type of industry, what would happen if McDonald’s burgers started smelling differently? I don’t know for sure, but it probably wouldn’t go well judging by the company’s history with changes.

If you have more ideas on how to create your very own sensory marketing, feel free to share it with us. You can reach us via the comments box below or through any of our social media outlets. In the mean time, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.


Printsome is a garment printing agency delivering from Glasgow to Edinburgh and everywhere else in the UK. For a nice chat about sensory marketing or just want to get some cool printed shirts, get in touch!


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