Sensory marketing is about customer behavior. For advertisers, it stimulates customers’ brain activity to generate positive feelings towards a product. It is a fascinating subject, as it teaches us so much about the psychology and meaning of advertising messages. In this article, we will discuss the findings of many researchers, including Aradhna Krishna, the world’s leading expert on sensory marketing. Among other things, we will explain in detail the manifestations of sensory marketing in advertising. Next: a synthetic definition of the concept, its relationship to neuromarketing, and its main advantages.
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- What is sensory marketing?
- 3 major advantages of sensory marketing
- How does sensory marketing manifest itself for each of the senses?
What is sensory marketing?
Sensory marketing relies on the human senses of customers. It appeals to the judgment and behavior of each individual. In short, it focuses on understanding perceptions and stimuli and applying them to marketing campaigns. Thus, we enter the field of consumer psychology, a discipline that plays on many tableaux:
- Cognitive processes
- Emotional palette
- Personal preferences
Therefore, it proves effective in refining its target marketing. In addition, brands better understand the motivations and restraints of their customers. Such a knowledge base is an essential contribution to account-based marketing. As a reminder, the latter strives to consider its “best” customers as market segments in their own right.
In short, sensory marketing simplifies customer conversion because it contrasts greatly with traditional advertising, which lacks sensory triggers. This process encourages the public to form a positive image of the brands, and, unconsciously. It is then that the perceived quality of products and services is impacted by to:
- its color
- its shape
- the taste
- and even its smell (Krishna, 2012).
Understanding the links between sensory marketing and neuromarketing
In this context, we cannot help but draw parallels between sensory marketing and neuromarketing. Indeed, they both deal with research on consumer behavior and customer conversion. On the one hand, the sensory branch focuses on the operational phase of marketing strategies. On the other hand, neuromarketing analyzes brain processes through neurological research. So it precedes the practices related to sensory marketing.
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Combining these two marketing tactics gives brands a significant competitive advantage. Most managers prefer to follow their instincts rather than raw data when making decisions. Therefore, we believe that companies today should adopt these techniques to propose a unique customer experience:
- In-store experience: proposing immersive practices and beautifying the customer experience
- Campaign personalization: this task falls primarily on neuromarketing and its ability to differentiate customers
- Key performance indicators: both tactics rely on providing data for decision-making and campaign implementation. So we can reasonably imagine a bridge to data marketing.
3 key advantages of sensorial marketing
Before dissecting sensory marketing and its use by companies, we summarize below its 3 essential contributions:
- strengthening the customer relationship
- acquisition of competitive advantages
- benefits of Omnichannel Marketing
Sensory marketing improves customer relationships
First, it intensifies the connection between customers and brands through the emotions and experiences of individuals. Indeed, sensory marketing identifies the strongest feelings in each of us to create advertising campaigns.
Therefore, it increases customer loyalty and simplifies the referral marketing of companies! However, choose the right stimuli to generate positive feelings towards the exposed product. Otherwise, the structures risk facing negative word-of-mouth.
It gives a definite competitive advantage
Secondly, sensory marketing is a golden opportunity to increase market share. It is an ideal way to differentiate oneself from the competition and to gain a place in the customer’s mind. Also, we are talking about a process that strengthens the brand’s awareness in the market. Indeed, marketing campaigns that are intrinsically sensorial stand out and remain in the minds of customers. In doing so, this approach leaves its mark on the customer’s behavior and decision-making process.
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Sensory marketing adapts well to Omnichannel Marketing
Finally, sensory marketing is fundamentally multi-faceted. It is more memorable when it appeals to all the human senses, but that is not all. It also finds its strength in the multiplication of communication channels.
In other words, brands must transmit their message on both physical and digital channels. Indeed, this improves the product’s perceived value among customers while reaching a wider audience. Moreover, such an approach reinforces the brands’ control over their image!
How does sensorial marketing manifest itself for each of the senses?
The time has come to detail the components of sensory marketing point by point. To do so, the findings of Krishna et al., 2016 will allow us to summarize the best practices in this area. We will proceed with 5 key points of this marketing process based on the 5 senses of the human being: touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight.
First of all, let us look at the touch. The advertising world often uses haptic messages to get their marketing message across. Furthermore, for a good reason, the spots referring to touch are generally more persuasive than ads without touch. This is especially true if that touch positively stimulates sensory feedback from customers. (Peck & Wiggins, 2006)
Nonetheless, how do we convey this feeling through traditional and digital media? Peck et al., 2012 go through a scientific experiment to assess the relationship between the imaginary touch and the original sensation of touch. In the end, the authors determined the following. An object reminiscent of ownership will be perceived more positively by people touching it. Therefore, the emotional value of this object is stronger!
The sense of smell
Now, let us talk about the research on olfactory marketing. It is interesting because of its work on the links between smell and memory. A good number of fields of application exist in this regard:
- perception of odors and the sensations it triggers in individuals
- autobiographical memories, i.e., the relationship that people make between odors and childhood memories, for example,
- but also the contribution of ambient odors on one’s memory abilities. (Krishna et al., 2016)
In advertising, Krishna et al., 2014 research the work of food advertisers. It was then that the authors of the research determined that visual messages soliciting the sense of smell increase responses:
- physiological, then causing salivation
- assessment to stimulate the desire to eat in customers
- and consumption through a ripple effect.
Next, sensory marketing constantly solicits hearing to achieve its ends. In this case, music is important in modern advertising. It impacts not only the mood but also the perceived value of customers. Here, the choice of music is crucial: it reflects the brand’s values and determines the marketing message. Let us take a few examples to illustrate this point:
- Commercials with a fast tempo will tend to solicit positive feelings.
- In addition, percussion coupled with a repetitive rhythm will generate more energy in the viewer.
- Finally, advertisers have realized that individuals’ familiarity with music is paramount. Ward et al., 2014 provide some insight. The research reveals the positive relationship between familiarity and prediction of individuals’ music preferences. This is despite the proven preference of customers to listen to unfamiliar music.
Mastering the perception of taste is of paramount importance to food advertisers. Many brands focus exclusively on this sense to convey their message. However, this is a mistake!
Scientific research shows that advertisements are more effective by combining different types of stimuli. Only then will companies improve the perceived taste of the product being promoted. Also, remember that taste perception involves the other senses: sight, smell, hearing, and touch. Thus, the managerial implications are clear. Beyond the food industry, brands have everything to gain by multiplying sensory messages in advertising.
Finally, let us look at the visual messages specific to sensory marketing. Scientific research is unanimous on this subject: aesthetics is the judge of peace in advertising (Cian et al., 2015). Indeed, a good aesthetic of advertising visuals stimulates the creation of images in individuals. There are two important aspects for brands to consider in this regard. The goal is simple: to obtain more favorable attitudes toward the brand. Some examples of parameters to consider when choosing visuals are:
- their orientation and positioning in space
- the variety of their movement, which influences the perception of the marketing message
- and their content (such as; size, color, and shape.)
- Cian, L., Krishna, A. & Schwarz, N. (2015). Positioning Rationality and Emotion: Rationality Is Up and Emotion Is Down. Journal of Consumer Research, 42(4), 632–651.
- Krishna, A. (2012). An integrative review of sensory marketing: Engaging the senses to affect perception, judgment and behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22, 332-351.
- Krishna, A., Morrin, M. & Sayin, E. (2014). Smellizing Cookies and Salivating: A Focus on Olfactory Imagery, Journal of Consumer Research, 41(1), 18–34.
- Krishna, A., Cian, L. & Sokolova, T. (2016). The power of sensory marketing in advertising. Current Opinion in Psychology, 10, 142-147.
- Peck, J. & Wiggins, J. (2006). It Just Feels Good: Customers’ Affective Response to Touch and Its Influence on Persuasion. Journal of Marketing, 70(4), 56–69.
- Peck, J., Barger, V.A. & Webb, A. (2013). In search of a surrogate for touch: The effect of haptic imagery on perceived ownership. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 23(2), 189-196
- Ward, M.K., Goodman, J.K. & Irwin, J.R. (2014). The same old song: The power of familiarity in music choice. Marketing Letters, 25, 1-11