Brands started acting like young girls with a high desire to get married.
They become prettier, talk nicely, use divine fragrances, are soft as silk and taste like sweet May cherries. The good part is that if you don’t marry a brand, no father is going to threaten you with medieval tortures. Find out how sensory branding gets under your skin and makes you pick the same product every time you shop.
Back in the 50’s…
…you usually had one shot to catch your audience’s attention: print!
Huge, colored and creative posters were considered the ace in the sleeve that made you go all in with your advertising strategy. As a marketer, you uttered a prayer and hoped for the best!
A few years later, people discovered the taste of entertainment, provided by the trendy newcomer called television. Hold tight! Advertising carousel caught giddy speeds and TV commercials struggled to catch a bit of attention.
Only in the 70’s marketers woke up from their beauty sleep and realized that humans actually have five senses, and they use only one or two at a time when they want to sell something. So sensory branding turned up to be a wonder-working solution.
Sensory branding is a technique frequently used in advertising aimed to influence customer’s feelings, attitudes and behavior. It uses all human senses from visual, auditory, olfactory and gustatory to tactile, so that ultimately maximize product profitability.
Traditional marketing and advertising used to concentrate on giving information about the product, its benefits and features, how it can be used, how much it costs, and where you can buy it from. Of course, this kind of information is relevant, but it’s not enough to make you cash on the nail.
So let’s take a quick peek at how the senses are used in branding:
Sight is the most important sense used in marketing. You see: colors, textures, packages, logos, pictures, posters, and basically anything. You buy mostly with your eyes. You doubt this is true? Then you need a proper explanation for the tremendous growth of online shopping.
Second most used sense in marketing is sound. You see an image, but you also want to hear reasons why you should buy that specific product. The information given in the commercials, and also in the jingles, the tone, and the voice influences brand perception and experience. For example, fast foods and supermarkets use entertaining music genre such as pop or rock. These music genres tend to get you into an exciting mood and also make you want more. You enter, you buy, then you leave! Everything has to happen fast. Instead, in a fashion shop it’s a high probability to find soft musical background. You enter, you stay as much as you can, observe all the products, touch them, try them on, then buy. The soft music suggests that you don’t have to hurry, you have all the time in the world to try as many clothes as you want.
According to most medical studies, this sense is the most sensitive and it can distinguish over 10,000 different odors. Artificial smells are used in restaurants in order to increase customers’ appetite, luxury goods shops use fragrances that make the shop smell better and help transferring the good perception provided by the fragrances towards provoking a purchase of products.
You see a product, but before putting it in your shopping cart, you have to touch it! If it feels good, you’ll buy it. If it doesn’t, you’ll try other similar products. Touch is the physical and psychological interaction that a consumer has with a product, and its perception can be influenced by factors such as weight, fabrics or materials, softness and solidity.
It is pretty obvious where gustative branding becomes meaningful: food and beverages. Good taste vs. bad taste are limited to a very subjective perspective. There isn’t any general advice that would work for gustative branding, but a mix of name, presentation, environment, and also surrounding scent and sound can contribute to the emotional state that influences the perception upon taste.
Shops, magazines, service centers, restaurants, airline companies, and many more used sensory branding for decades and it worked great for them. Then the question that rises is why doesn’t everyone use sensory branding? The most obvious answer would be that they take sensory branding very shallow and don’t focus on using more senses.
I strongly believe that everyone should start taking things more seriously before the competition comes with a better look, a better scent, a nicer voice, user friendly packages and… cookies! Start now, later it may be useless, your customers could have already fallen in love with other products.