Are you emotionally connected to a particular brand? Maybe it's the design of its packaging. Maybe it's the colors they use or the shapes that remind you of something good. Maybe it's the smell of the store. When you go into a small fragrance boutique, you're mesmerized by a unique scent that sticks in your memory. Whenever you decide to buy perfume in future, you'll prefer going to that specific store.
Why does this happen? When you understand the psychological theory behind the human senses, you'll realize why sensory marketing is so important. Our senses are our connection to the outside world. Our brain interprets the messages they send and forms its perception of the world in accordance with those interpretations.
Marketers can implement sensory experiences to make their campaigns more effective. With sensory marketing techniques, you lay the foundation for a positive brand impression. Let's see how our senses influence our perception of a brand, so we'll understand this approach a bit better.
Unless you own a restaurant or coffee shop, this is the sense you can influence the least. However, taste can still become an important aspect of your marketing strategy. For example, if you're promoting an Italian brand of jewelry, you could organize a cocktail for your most faithful customers where you serve Italian gelato and wine. These tastes will remind people of the Italian lifestyle, and they'll see how your jewelry fits in.
The sense of taste can deeply influence our memories, emotions and moods. A savvy marketer will find ways to use that fact to the campaign's advantage.
You already have experience with sound affecting your perception of a brand. When you dine in a fancy restaurant, you want slow, calm music in the background, right? When you're at a nightclub, the music that's being played affects your experience. When you enter a store, the music can make you feel energized or relaxed, depending on the selection.
But it's not limited to in-store experiences. Daniel Monroe of BestEssays explains how sounds are important even for online services: "The element of sound was crucial when we were designing the live chat. We didn't want our website visitors to be disturbed, which is why the live chat is never activated without their request. When they drop us a message, however, they surely want to be notified when the agent sends a response, so the sound has to be noticeable yet subtle. It has to create a sense of urgency without making the website user nervous."
Think: what behavior are you trying to encourage in your target audience? What kind of music would promote such behavior? Once you answer this question, it becomes easier to implement music and sound effectively in your brand experiences.
The sense of touch also influences our behavior. Research has shown that touching rough or smooth objects has an effect on our decisions. Hard surfaces, for example, evoke the impression of firmness, stability and security. However, they also impose a sense of strictness. They might be great for offices or banks, but you'd want to include a bit of softness in a store that sells products for kids, right?
Many brands neglect the sense of touch in their campaigns, mainly because they're selling products that already have a particular structure. The way you design the packaging and space around the products, however, will have a huge effect on the brand experience.
This is probably the sense that affects our brand perception the most, since we first see a product before involving any other senses in the experience. That's why brands invest so much effort and resource in visual content.
When you're presenting your brand to the world, advertising and packaging have a huge impact on audience perception. This effect is heightened when all your branding is consistent and cohesive. Posters, social media posts, flyers, newsletters and other promotional materials should all share a similar design and color scheme. After all, those colors are rarely chosen by accident.
For example, when we're trying to evoke optimism, warmth and clarity, we often reach for the color yellow. Orange is cheerful and fun (like Fanta), and red is bold and exciting (like Virgin). Blue evokes trust, strength and dependability—think Dell and HP. Green is peaceful and symbolizes growth and health, which is why you'll find it in the logos and marketing of many environmentally friendly or healthy lifestyle brands.
Have you ever wondered why brands like L'Occitane and Lush sell their products in specialized boutiques? It's because their marketing campaigns are based on the sense of smell, and they don't want their scents being diluted by other products in the store. When you get to the Lush store, you're so mesmerized by the smells that you simply cannot leave without a new bar of soap. That's how powerful scents can be.
Even if your brand is not related to scents, you can still benefit from sensory marketing. Researchers found that the smell of chocolate can boost sales in bookstores. They observed the behavior of the customers and concluded that when the bookstore smelled like chocolate, people were more engaged with the staff and the books. They looked more closely at books, read the summaries, and lingered in the store. That's not a coincidence.
The smell of chocolate is comforting and inviting. It's no wonder why many real estate agents like to bake something in the kitchen before showing the property to a potential customer. They also make sure the property is clean and smells nice in every room.
Just as a pleasant scent promotes better behavior, an unpleasant odor will have a negative effect. If the store is dusty or smells funky, it won't matter how awesome your brand and products are. The smell will distract visitors from taking the action you want to encourage.
Our senses have a major impact on our purchasing decisions. Sensory branding is a well-established practice in some industries, such as cosmetics and food. However, brands from all other industries can benefit from this approach, too. Which sensory marketing techniques could you take advantage of in your next branding campaign?