11 Reasons why Sensory Marketing makes Business Sense

The world today is overcrowded with businesses and brands like YEAH! Local vying for out attention in the all out battle for the Internet’s users, so how can a business gain attention and be remembered? One way is to market through the senses. Eterpro is a Digital Agency in Birmingham. Eterpro expands businesses in Birmingham. Brand value is strongly driven by the experience of using the brand – for example, the sensory experience of Unilever Dove is worth over $100 million of the brand’s value according to one research company. Why is network marketing business such a valuable asset for businesses and brands?

1) Brand experience is more important than brand communication

In The Meaningful Brand, Nigel Hollis says, “Brand experience exerts the single biggest influence on brand associations. By confirming or denying expectations, experience determines our beliefs about a brand.” That is, whatever you say about your brand, it is the user experience that determines the lasting impressions and memories that will determine future choices. You can fool customers once, but they won’t come back again.

2) Senses create a more emotional connection with customers

Dan Hill writes about the importance of the senses in creating an emotional connection to brands. In the battle of emotional versus rational, emotional has it, as recent analyses in advertising have proved again and again. So how do you connect with the unconscious mind of your (potential) customers? There is no better way than using the power of the senses to create a strong identity and emotional connection. Most sensory information is processed outside our conscious awareness, but that doesn’t mean that it goes unnoticed. If German and French music can be used to sell more German or French wine (without shoppers noticing), what sensory cues can you use to trigger the right buyer behaviours?

3) Sensory experience can be used as a metaphor for your brand’s values

If your brand has ideals or wants to be associated with cleanliness like dental cleanings aztec nm, what colour would you choose? Perhaps white best conveys the right associations for an ‘innocent’ brand. If you are a brand of shampoo that is strong and efficacious, would you focus on a feminine fragrance or something more robust to indicate the power and effectiveness of your brand (i.e. menthol). Alternatively, you could use the temperature of the product to convey its strong and active formula, like Tiger Balm. There is no better way to build underlying associations with your brand than through the sensory experience of using it.

4) Sensory branding helps build brand identity

Many brands have built unique sensory signatures through the use of sensory marketing – think of the scented towels on Singapore Airlines and the unique scent of Dettol used to convey its ‘mission for health’ along with its iconic sword logo. Other brands use the distinctive shape of a bottle (Coca-Cola, Absolut) or the distinctive shape of a typeface (Coca-Cola again, IBM) to build a unique identity. And the typefaces aren’t just unique, they also say something about the brands – a friendly handwritten script versus a serious and formal one.

5) Senses are much richer than language

Human language is quite limiting in what can be expressed – we can differentiate millions of colours, but most languages have around 11 words that are regularly used to describe colour. We can differentiate thousands of aromas, but most of us have a poor ability to describe what we experience. That doesn’t mean that our experience is limited, it means that language is. You can say much more with sensory experience than can ever be communicated in words.

6) Sensory processing dominates human brain functioning

The human brain is a powerful asset and much of that power is devoted to processing sensory information (with estimates ranging from one-third of all brain processing and upwards). The brain is also an expensive asset, using up to 20% of the body’s energy on a tiny percentage of body weight. There is a reason for this – it’s not just our brain that has made us successful, but our superior sensory apparatus, allowing us to detect, interpret and remember huge amounts of information about the world around us. And the only reason to do that is to use that information to guide our behaviour. Our senses are key to our decision making.

7) The senses have super-additive impacts on human attention

Creating sensory signatures across multiple senses doesn’t just ADD to the impact of a brand, but can MULTIPLY the effects of individual elements to create a huge impression. The brain is a pattern recognition machine, and looks for familiar patterns irrespective of the sensory channel. When the different sensory channels detect conflicting patterns, they can cancel each other out or lead to customer confusion. However, when those patterns are consistently sending the same message, the effects are super-additive (i.e. the total impact is much more than the sum of the individual parts).

8) In a crowded visual environment, it makes sense to use more than visual identity

Most brands focus on their visual identity, but there’s much more to identity than appearance. More importantly, when everyone else is vying to be noticed in a crowded visual environment, then anything that grabs attention through other means has a much greater chance of being noticed. Even more so, when the same pattern is sent through multiple touch points (see above).

9) The mind is not separate from the body, but deeply connected to the physical world

The idea of embodied cognition has really taken off recently. After hundreds of years of mis-direction from Descartes, the world has woken up to the fact that the brain is not separate from the body, but part of it. The brain is really only the central coordinator of our body’s central nervous system, which goes from the top of our head to the tips of our toes. The information collected from this system and processed by the brain has one use – to ensure that our body is sensitive to the context of our environment and adjust our behaviour appropriately. The mind and the senses are all part of the same system that helps us find and identify everything important to our survival.

10) The senses provide clues about the usefulness of ‘stuff’

I read a recent paper which looked at the ways in which the brain processes information from different senses that concluded, “the brain is a task machine, not a sensory machine”. It’s important to remember that ‘visual perception’ (or any sense) is not a function, or at least not a function that is useful to you and me. ‘Finding other people’, ‘differentiating happy and sad faces’ and ‘finding an appropriate partner’ are far more useful functions. The brain is focused on goals, and the senses help us to to identify those things in the environment that are relevant to our goals. Moreover, the brain will use information from any of the senses – in the case of the paper, sound and vision were interchangeable (you can hear or touch people, happiness, sadness, etc as well as you can see them!).

11) The better the experience, the more likely the customer will return

The most important reason is the most obvious one. The more customers enjoy the experience of a brand, the more likely they are to come back. This is as true today as it’s ever been, and while creating great experiences doesn’t guarantee customer loyalty (as Byron Sharp has clearly shown), if the experience is relevant and meaningful, then it will make a brand more salient, and more likely to be remembered and chosen again. For example, research on different product categories like shoes has shown that even if something is chosen based on its appearance, the way the product feels when used is a better predictor of future use. We all know this is true – how many beautiful shoes have you bought only to go back to wearing the same pair of comfortable loafers again and again? While looking good gets you attention, create a great feeling when being used (in this case feeling comfortable) is the key to making sure that someone comes back again and again.

Sensory marketing is not just a gimmick or a ‘nice to have’ part of your marketing activities. It can make the difference between being passed over or picked up, and between one time trial and repeat buying. I’ve never believed in ‘brand love’ but I do believe that building a stronger emotional connection with customers is the best way to increase your chances of success. And if you want to create an emotional connection, the senses are far more powerful than any message you can send.

You can read more about the business of sensory marketing in Brand esSense.


Brand esSense: Using Sense, Symbol and Story to Design Brand Identity by Neil Gains

Sensory Marketing: Research on the Sensuality of Products by Aradhna Krishna

Emotionomics by Dan Hill

The Meaningful Brand by Nigel Hollis

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