Web Analytics Made Easy -

What is sensory marketing and how is it done?

What is sensory marketing and how is it done?

While traditional marketing strategies focus only on the senses of sight and hearing, marketing experts recognizing the importance of cognitive processes in decision-making discuss the concept of sensory marketing. Can all the five senses be turned into marketing tools? In this article, we dwell on sensory marketing derived from this assumption.

The first examples of advertisements in their current form, which are the focus of marketing, were seen in print publications in the 20th century. At that time brands had billboards, posters, flyers, newspapers, and magazines. Then television came into our lives and we started talking about video advertising and commercials.

Having its golden age back then, advertising was taken to another level with the advent of the Internet and later mobile technologies. Marketers encountered many new concepts such as display ads, social media ads, influencer marketing, video ads, email marketing, mobile ads, CPC (cost-per-click) ads, and search engine ads. Digital marketing, Internet marketing, or growth marketing have begun to occupy an important place in the marketing strategies of many brands, changing the focus of advertising budgets.

And then 2020 came along which saw all processes digitalized, almost all in a day's work. As the amount of time users spend on digital platforms increased, brands have focused on expanding areas where they can interact with consumers through digital channels. This meant increased digital marketing activities and spending.

The share of digital advertising increases
  • According to a global survey conducted by Zenith, ad spending is expected to grow by 9.1% this year, following a growth of 15.6% in 2021. It is estimated that the share of digital advertising in this expenditure will exceed 60% for the first time, reaching 61.5%.
  • Zenith forecasts that budgets spent on digital advertising will exceed 65% of total ad spending by 2024.
  • In Turkey, the situation is not much different. According to the Estimated Media and Advertising Investments in Turkey report 2021, conducted by the Advertisers Association in collaboration with Deloitte, investments in the digital and organized media sector account for the largest piece of the advertising spending pie in 2021, at a rate of 46.7%.

So how does this spending, most of which is moving to the digital, resonate with the consumer?

Rhonda Hadi, associate professor of marketing at Oxford University, said, "This advertising only targets eyes and ears. What if you could reach consumers by making the phones in their pockets quiver like a cocktail shaker? Or appeal to their altruism through virtual reality ‘empathy machines’? Or get their Alexa to emit the smell of a tropical beach if they bark ‘Barbados holiday’ in the kitchen? “In a saturated market for online advertising, brands may need to appeal to all five senses to stand out.

Young users skip ads

Many people, especially the Z generation, do not like ads they encounter while using the Internet that interrupt their mobile experience. According to a survey by Magma Global, 84% of smartphone users - especially young users - skip ads.

When she says "appeal to all five senses," Rhonda Hadi is of course referring to sensory marketing. If you like, we can now move on to sensory marketing, which takes digital marketing efforts a step further and multiplies the success of Internet marketing campaigns. 

If concepts such as digital marketing and Internet marketing are of interest to you, we recommend you take a look at our article on the concept of online PR agency.

What is sensory marketing?

In short, sensory marketing or sensory advertising is a marketing technique based on creating content by focusing on at least one of the five senses of consumers.

Let's start by presenting two options: You walk past a patisserie with no intention of buying any desserts. But such an enchanting smell emanates from the patisserie that you pause for a few seconds. Now let's move on to the other option, you come across an advertisement for the same patisserie while browsing Instagram. Which one do you think would prompt you to make a buying decision at that moment? Which one of the two options would spur you to part with your cash?

This marketing technique, considered a subset of psychological marketing, aims to appeal to one or more of the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch in order to establish an emotional relationship with a brand.

It is known that the foundations of this concept date back to 1940. At a time when billboards and posters were replaced by televisions, brands realizing that sound could be used as an advertising tool also discovered the impact of advertising music called "jingles." Apparently, the first advertisement with a jingle was made by Colgate-Palmolive in 1948. Music, which is much more memorable than text or images, is now a sine qua non of video ads. If you tried it now, you would find that you can still remember the ad music of McDonald's or Kellog's.

The tools of advertising and marketing, which began to diversify with music, continue to evolve with fragrances, which are now widely used in physical retail, and with the development of technologies such as virtual reality, featuring in campaigns that engage other senses. This marketing technique, which gained prominence in the industry after marketers realized that consumers make decisions emotionally rather than rationally, maintains its existence in new forms. Do you think it is a coincidence that the clothing store or mall you always visit smells similar no matter what branch you walk into? No, because that's called fragrance marketing, the fragrance becomes one with the brand and makes you think of it when you smell it somewhere else. For example, you can go to a Mavi store to try not only jeans but also the fragrance. Have you ever noticed certain patterns in the songs that play in the background in supermarkets? Could they be appealing to our subconscious?

If these examples and questions bring some ideas to mind, we can focus on the importance of sensory advertising.

Before we delve deeper into this topic, you might find our article "How can PR help brand building?" interesting.

Why is sensory marketing important?

Quick reminder: a memorable and unique experience can allow consumers to build a stronger bond with the product or service, increase their satisfaction and even change their behavior and attitude.

We can say that competition has increased in all sectors, brands have become more competitive, and every potential market has opened a new competitive front with globalization. In such a business environment, it becomes more important than ever to build brand awareness, create brand value, and get consumers to embrace brand identity. Digital marketing or Internet marketing alone is not enough because all brands carry out digital marketing or Internet marketing processes.

Companies that want to gain a competitive advantage and achieve the position of the brand of choice in the minds of consumers must appeal to emotions rather than intellect.

Let us share a few notable findings put together by Yale University:

  1. Sense of sight: While attention-grabbing marketing campaigns are very important at the point of purchase and when people see the product for the first time, other senses become important in the next step. Studies on juicers show that participants use only their eyesight to check the function of the product and use their sense of touch only when they have thoughts such as "oh it is too big, or too sweet."
  2. Sound: Some studies show that consumers shop longer than usual with music, even if it is familiar or unfamiliar. Another study found that slow music led to a 38% increase in sales in a supermarket and 41% in a restaurant.
  3. Touch: Touch increases the perceived ownership of that object. In this way, the experience to be delivered with technologies such as augmented reality has a positive impact on purchase decisions, regardless of the product.
  4. Smell: A scientific study published in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that product scents are more effective than ambient scents in improving memory for product information, and scented products have a positive effect on bringing to mind other brand attributes. In another study, it was found that people can remember a smell with 65% accuracy a year later. So when you smell a Rebul branded refreshing towel, don't be surprised if you think of the Rebul brand, logo, and packaging.
  5. Taste: There is evidence that children find a product tastier in McDonald's packaging than they would find it were it offered in non-branded packaging. This confirms that there is a positive relationship between brand awareness and taste.

All these go to show how receptive consumers are to emotional effects in their buying processes and make decisions for emotional reasons. The way to address emotional processes for brands is to benefit from 360-degree emotional marketing methods. As the medium and form of contact with the consumer changes, communication becomes stronger. A higher level of sensory stimulation means more communication and a better experience.

Sensory marketing is one of the most useful methods for achieving industry-specific competitive advantages, establishing a solid brand image in the eyes of consumers, writing a brand story, and turning consumers into brand advocates.

How does sensory marketing work?

Every sense offers many tools to use for marketing. For example, brands that appeal to the sense of sight can make use of use colors, images, texts, graphics, illustrations, videos, and light in their advertising campaigns. While external sounds, sound effects, or jingles stand out in audio ads, many physical retail stores are remembered for their unique scents. In fact, prototypes such as "Smell-O-Vision" and "Smelling Screen" have been in the works since the 2010s to bring fragrance into homes. When it comes to the sense of touch, it is enough to turn your thoughts to the showrooms of furniture stores and think of computers, cameras, tablets, and phones that we can try out in technology stores. One of the most basic examples that appeal to the sense of taste is the tasting booths set up at large markets.

Now when we start talking about virtual universes like the metaverse, where augmented reality has become a common technology, where does sensory marketing come in?

According to Rhonda Hadi of Oxford University, augmented reality can shape the advertising of the future. According to Hadi, thanks to augmented reality, which allows consumers to visualize virtual objects in the real world and model future scenarios, a user can see how a dress shown at Paris Fashion Week will look on them or decide which lipstick would suit them better by using a makeup application. Or a house modelled with augmented reality finds buyers more easily.

Considering Hadi's predictions that sensory marketing will not be temporary and short-term, as the science behind it mimics the real world and is based on human behavior, it is not that hard to predict that the metaverse will be the new medium of sensory marketing in the next 25 years. While not a new concept, new technological developments are elevating it to the top of marketers' agendas.

Examples of sensory marketing from global brands

Starbucks — No matter where you are in Turkey or the world, you will find the same experience at all Starbucks stores. Elegant music in the background, a creative environment that offers more than just a café, delicious coffee smells that hit you as soon as you walk in, and the same colors from the walls to the tables. It is said that the songs played in Starbucks stores are determined by the company headquarters and the wallpapers and paintings represent similar art styles. All of this takes Starbucks beyond a coffee shop and gives it brand value.

Visa — The sensory marketing elements that appeal to sight, hearing, and touch, announced by payment system provider Visa in 2017, are one of the frequently cited examples in the communications community. The "payment received" tone, which Visa has worked on for a long time, is a great indicator for Visa cardholders to understand that their purchase has been successfully and securely completed.

Nike — Hope Alkazar, which global sportswear brand Nike has brought to life with its business partners under the theme "The Stage of Movement," stands out as a venue that offers many experiences from sporting events to film screenings to plays and workshops, and brings it all together with the brand experience. The venue, which offers physical and digital experiences, defines itself as "a platform focused on social good, bringing together people and communities who make a difference with their ideas and work, on the axis of sport, culture, and art."

We now know that all senses influence the buying process, but vision is crucial for the first contact with a brand.

We now know why it's important to reach consumers with non-promotional content. If you want to improve your brand's reputation, create a brand identity, and enable initial interaction with your customers using a relevant form of communication, PR campaigns, and online press release distribution, we recommend you to knock on the door of Online PR Service B2Press that distributes press releases in 23 languages across 30 countries.

B2Press offers press release distribution services in more than 50 countries.
For detailed information, fill out the form immediately.
Please choose your target country.
Please enter a valid name.
Please enter a valid e-mail address.
Please approve.
© B2Press B.V.