Sensory Marketing has a Sense

By Asst.Professor Dr. Sanjit Kumar Dash of WSB


In a millennial generation of globalization world, the competition is surging which stimulates marketers to look for various techniques to appeal to the consumer and make their product irresistible. For last two decades, marketers are trying to appeal to the customer through sensory Marketing. Research shows that we are entering the era where marketers should take the help of the senses to effectively appeal to customers.


According to the definition provided by the American Marketing Association, Sensory Marketing “is the marketing technique that aims to seduce the consumer by using senses to influence the consumer’s feelings and behaviours”. As we know, the five senses are sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. In this context, stimulants addressing all, some or any of five senses, namely sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch senses, try to influence emotional and behavioural tendencies of consumers. Lustre of light, intensity of voice, smoothness of fabric, smell of liquidator or taste of tea samples at a market have influence on feelings and behaviors of consumers. Sensory marketing is simply the process of winning a customer’s heart by winning trust and attention by appealing to each of these five senses. The combination of Visual and audio stimuli gives a synergy effect.

Aradhna Krishna ,the head of Sensory Marketing Laboratory at the University of Michigan and is considered the foremost expert in the field of sensory marketing   got into the field because she was fascinated by certain questions: Why does wine taste better in a wine glass than in a water glass? Why is an ad showing a piece of cake more engaging when the fork is placed to the right of the cake? Why does the smell of cinnamon make a heating pad seem to work better? Krishna realized that the senses amplify one another when they are congruent in some way. Because cinnamon suggests warmth, it can enhance a heating pad’s appeal and apparent effectiveness. Such influences are subtle—and that’s exactly why they are so powerful. Consumers don’t perceive them as marketing messages and therefore don’t react with the usual resistance to ads and other promotions.


Marketing is all about the customer experience in today’s scenario.  This is as true of something like website design as it is something like product creation. If the user isn’t having a great time, none of it matters. As we can imagine, sensory marketing ties into this concept quite nicely. Because it’s all about enhancing customer experience, sensory marketing has become a go-to tactic for many multi-national brands. Companies like Abercrombie & Fitch and Dunkin Donuts used sensory marketing to increase sales at one South Korea outlet by 29%. Sensory marketing provides a complete experience. This is the reason why it stands out as a uniquely interactive way to win customers. But the biggest marketing mistake a brand can make if it caters only to a single sense at a time ignoring other four.


Emotions are playing into marketing more today than they ever have before. If you want to make your customers believe in your brand, you’ve got to start by making an emotional appeal. Brands like Airbnb do this beautifully, with their “Belong Anywhere” campaign. Think of it this way: the more deeply you can connect emotionally with your readers, the more likely they are to remember your brand. This, in turn, will give you the opportunity to appeal to their other senses, as well.


Sight is, of course, one of the most powerful senses in the world of advertising. Luckily, it’s also easy to make the most of. To add value of sight, we have to make sure that the company website is beautiful and appealing to customers. Colour plays a vital role. Brands like Virgin Airlines and Coca Cola have found ways to use colour to promote brand recognition for their products.


Touch is a very powerful sense, and it’s easy for the brands to make the most of out of it. There’s fundamentally always a way for your brand to take advantage of texture.  This could mean using heavy, high-quality card stock for your mailed advertisements, or going the extra mile to ensure your products feel good in a customer’s hand. No matter how you incorporate it, we have to make sure that you’re not overlooking this essential sensory opportunity in marketing.


Sound takes many forms in advertising. It can be Nescafe‘s “Ho Shuru Har Pal Aise” jingle or a slogan that you can’t get out of your head like McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”. Today, sensory advertising requires that all brands find a way to use sound in their branding efforts.


The sense of smell, like a faithful counsellor, foretells its character – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

When Dunkin Donuts used sensory marketing in South Korea, it released a coffee smell into the air while playing a company jingle. Even if this sounds a little too extreme for your brand, there are still ways to play on your customers’ sense of smell. Two smart options include placing scented ads in major magazines or using a trademark fragrance in your stores. Smell is a powerful sense, and tests have shown pleasant smells can improve mood by 40%. Find a way to incorporate scent into your brand and stick with it. Singapore Airlines’ hot towels are perfumed with “Stefan Floridian Waters,” a blend of rose, lavender and citrus which is patented. A note about using smell in your advertising, though: be sure that whatever scent you use is pleasant rather than overwhelming. While scent has the potential to create positive memories, it has the same potential to repulse your audience. Approached this sense with caution and intention.


Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Many studies indicate that we often eat with our noses, which means if food passes the smell test, it will most likely pass the taste test. Taste is closely related to smell but it’s also closely related to colour and shape. Through research it was found that consumers of McDonald’s food react positively to smell and taste or negatively to both. They did not hate the smell but love the food or vice versa.


Today, taking advantage of sensory marketing is one of the smartest ways for brands to trigger emotion and maintain engagement In order to place the importance of the customer experience at the forefront, irrespective of selling clothing or selling hi-tech products, sensory marketing is a powerful method for any company who wants to make its interactions with customers more meaningful and compelling. It’s accessible and easy to use, and when you get it right, it has the potential to overhaul your marketing strategy.