15 Jun 2020

The Effect of Multisensory Stimuli in the Marketplace

Whilst walking in a food retail outlet on a Friday evening, one notices the aromatic smell and sizzling sound of sausages on the grill with the hint of herbs and spices filling the air with flavors.

To the right is a dummy dressed as a chef enchanting fresh sausages, the smell of fresh sausages.

Looking down an imprint of footsteps guiding to the back of the shop whereby a live counter offering test samples by a salesperson dressed as a chef is operated.

Next to the live counter a rack full of sausages is placed. What are the chances of increased sales of sausages?

It is evident that 70 percent of marketing communication is done using visual medium and is considered as the most powerful tool. Traditional marketing also focuses on this area and spends majority of its budget on visual marketing communication.

Sensory marketing states the use of all 5 human senses should be used for marketing purposes that consists of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

Smell affect the emotional section of the brain called the amygdala because of this; smell can be recalled as far back as childhood and can put customers in good mood. Businesses use scents in marketing through ventilation systems, scratch stickers, mail and concerts, streets, sport field in public areas.

Sight is the fundamental for all the senses as they all connect but with the sight you are able to actually see the product. Sight is the most used sense in marketing in logos, corporate colors, characters and other graphical tools. Individuals tend to better remember visual products as they tend to sharpen the customers sensory experience and can better identify them when seen again, having a specific color scheme and arrangement such as the logos of Apple, facebook, Pepsi to name a few. Taste Businesses such as food and beverage companies use taste to distinguish against other related companies. Taste is normally distinguished as sweet, salty, sour, tangy contributing in the formation of the product.

Sound Schemas cognitive frameworks that organize and interpret information is heavily influenced by sound which could be built by product description, message and data. Sounds linked to brand images produce more effective encoding and recall. Music can have a large influence on consumers by setting a mood, involving a particular brand’s perception, being a distraction. Slow music could lead to more time spent at business; fast tempo could make customers make random purchases, spend more money and less time at business.

Touch factors as temperature triggers tactile warmth on consumer’s perception by helping them see metaphorical warmth in others and more trust and vulnerability to sales transactions.

The weightiness of a product influences the consumer’s opinion of the products quality, durability and reliability. Softness and hardness of a certain product leads to pleasant sensory feedback, impacting the consumer’s decision.

Physically holding objects increases sense of ownership within a consumer and is also the quickest way to learn about a product.

“By using the stimuli organizations are towards making a stronger brand employing scent, sound and texture building stronger emotional connections with the customer and drive preference for their brand,” says Aradhna Krishna, a pioneer in sensory marketing.

The rationale for applying sensory identity system has emerged as companies are facing diminishing returns from product or service feature alone, visual advert spending has increased but the rate of return has not and the most powerful and persuasive method of communication be non-verbal.

The impact of sensory marketing has gained importance as visual systems by themselves have limitations, as marketers struggle to break from the clutter. New studies in psychology revel conclusive ties between non-visual sensory stimuli and human behavior, many companies have also realized that they have been using the variables independently. With the right mix and usage of sensory branding using analytical techniques a stronger brand preferences could be met.

Sensory branding can harness a range of stimuli such as scent, sound and texture in a systematic fashion to help organizations forge stronger emotional connections with their customers. An example of the discipline that masters these skills is Singapore airlines, tailoring the effect of the scent on its hot towels to the impressions created by the quality of the in-flight video and by the flight attendants uniform pattern.

Such cohesive sensory system build an overall brand signature that embraces multiple sensory elements that customers will encounter at the same time or in a series of linked experiences. Surprising data’s on a research revealed that people might react to a smell adversely but when mixed with other sound and smell react favorably.
Some facts and feelings:

  • 95% of human communication in unconscious, and 80% is non-verbal.
  • Vanilla is universally perceived as nurturing while leather, wood and wool are thought of as traditional.
  • The color white is typically considered pure while blue is the most common favorite color.
  • Large-amplitude modulation in music typically is associated with happiness, activity and surprise.
  • Women typically think of premium fabrics as dine and light (silk) while men think of them as fine and heavy (wool).

Marketers such as Samsung electronics, Hyatt hotels and Singapore airlines are starting to develop their own version of a comprehensive sensory identity systems.

Based on the research and pattern of companies four fundamental steps are necessary to implement a sensory identity system.

  1. Identify the required brand positioning
  2. Design the right sensory identity elements
  3. Test the sensory elements
  4. Optimize across the critical touch points

The beginning of process starts with evaluation of market and market position of the company its goals and objectives and competitor in order to identify the gap and craft positioning and a set of image attributes. The step could be qualitative or quantitative or a combination of the approaches.

The implementation of sensory strategy would involve the use of musical, olfactory, visual and haptic cues into the brand design and or the retailing atmosphere.

However from the environmental and social point of view, the existing law regulations ought to be taken into account while implementing such solution.

With the growing competitive environment and expectations of customers force the companies to constantly innovate and search for new methods and tools of value creation. The principles and models of traditional marketing have become insufficient.
It should be kept in consideration that some combination of cues might damage the evaluations of the products or the environment for e.g. when the arousal properties do not match, or do not affect the purchase decision.

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.
Therefore before applying the sensory marketing, the pretest should always be conducted.


Author -
Saurav Satyal
HOD, Department of Business
PCPS College