Sensory marketing

The soft clack of your computer keyboard, the jangle of a slot machine, the crunch of your morning cereal, the muffled heft of your car door closing—believe it or not, these are all product elements companies have spent considerable time and money optimizing. Your brand may even be associated with a sound experience. From our ambient surroundings to a product-produced noise, sound influences our ideas and judgments about the goods and services we buy.This approach is one tactic within what is called sensory marketing. It’s about capitalizing on what we know about our sensory links to recall emotion and leveraging that information to strengthen brands and increase sales and it’s based on the idea that we are most likely to form, retain and revisit memory when all five senses are engaged. By going beyond the traditional marketing media of sight and sound, brands can establish a stronger and longer-lasting emotional connection with consumers.

In studies, groups exposed to multi-sensory environments always outperform those in uni-sensory environments. Their recall is better all around—in quantity of information retained, clarity and duration. What’s more, sensory information can affect consumer habits, such as restaurant turnover or purchasing. Marketers in large and small businesses alike are taking heed. Take a look at the following facts and pointers to enhance your brand experience today…

Sound
Sound has the power to impact our mood and sway our buying habits. Researchers have found that the pace of background music affects customer perceptions of wait time, spending and table turnaround in stores and restaurants.

Fast music decreases spending in a retail environment, but increases turnover in restaurants. For restaurants more concerned with increasing the spend-per-customer ratio, slower music creates longer dining times, leading to a 29 percent increase in the average bill according to one experiment.

Sound, then, is an effective brand cue, particularly when stretched beyond the bounds of traditional broadcast advertising. It can evoke a sense of quality, increase consumer relevance, boost recall, and impact purchase intent.

To incorporate sound into your brand experience in an easy way, consider developing a “soundtrack” for your storefronts or offices. Select music that captures the essence, the tone and the emotion of your brand and its people. Place a sampling of this music on direct mail CD Business Card Holders or preloaded onto an affordable MP3 Player to boost brand awareness.

Touch
We kick the tires on a car, lie down on mattresses in a store, and finger fabrics as we walk by racks of clothes. The urge to pick up, touch and test things is huge, and retailers count on that in their display strategies.

Our hands are an important link between our brains and the world. In fact, as humans we have more tactile receptors in our little fingers alone than we do on our entire back. These receptors help us explore objects in our surroundings. When we encounter a pleasant touch, the brain releases a hormone called oxytocin, leading to feelings of well-being and calm.

In research terms, this sense of touch is referred to as our haptic sense. Researchers have found that shoppers who touch a product are more likely to purchase, even as it relates to impulse buys. They’ve also found, logically, that the ability to touch a product increases our confidence in the item’s quality.

Increase the tactile appeal of your brand with promotional products like logo’d plush Chenille Blankets or Textured Mugs.

Scent
Smells stimulate certain areas of the brain responsible for creating emotions and memories. The human nose can identify and recall as many as 10,000 scents and as much as 75 percent of our emotions are generated by what we smell.

Out of all the senses, smell is the only one with a direct link to the brain. As Dr. John Medina explains in his bestseller Brain Rules, “Every other sensory system must send a signal to the thalamus and ask permission to connect to the rest of the brain… Smell signals bypass the thalamus and go right to their brainy destinations.”

Moreover, these smells instantly trigger messages in the limbic system, the part of the brain that contains keys to emotion, lust, perception and imagination. As C. Russell Brumfield, author of Whiff! writes, “The result is immediate: When we smell, we feel.”

Using scent, then, to enhance a brand is nothing to sniff at. Try stocking the front desk or cash wrap with scented pens, tissue paper or samples of Scented Lotion or serve warm cookies on plates or beverages in Branded Mugs.

All in all, the senses influence our emotions and decision-making. Touch, smell, taste, sound, and the look of a product all play an important role in our perceptions, attitudes and consumption of a product. Understanding those roles provides a valuable advantage in today’s marketplace for large and small businesses alike.

For more information, check out our Blue Paper® on Sensory Marketing.

Medina, John. Brain Rules 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. New York: Pear P, 2008.

Lindstrom, Martin. BRAND sense Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound. New York: Free P, 2005.

Hulten, Bertil, Niklas Broweur, and Marcus Van Dijk. Sensory Marketing. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Brick & Mortar Shopping in the 21st Century (Advertising and Consumer Psychology). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007.

Brumfield, C. Russell, James Goldney, and Stephanie Gunning. Whiff! New York: Quimby P, 2008.

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