Sensory Branding: How delighted your senses are?

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“All our knowledge begins with the senses” – Immanuel Kant. Human senses are a divine gift that allow us to take in information from the outside world while remaining connected. Two of our five senses, sight, feel, hear, taste, and smell, are particularly active in receiving inputs from the external environment and exerting a strong influence on our mind’s response. These are the abilities of sight and hearing. If pictures and sound are used to help human learning, it will be multiplied (i.e audio-video). As a result, these are the most commonly employed positioning and repositioning tools by brands in their overall integrated marketing communications. This is because all of these approaches, from traditional print advertisements to large OOH creatives, FM radio ads to the most latest PODCAST, never fail to serve the audience.

Sensory marketing, another marketing trend that has recently emerged, is refers to a marketing strategy in which marketers try to use their customers’ five senses to place various brand aspects in the most effective way possible. Similar to neuromarketing, it aims to elicit an emotional response from the audience by providing a sense of appeal and experience. The five senses are the most basic to recognise and plan for, but marketers are pushing themselves to learn more about human senses with the help of neuro-marketing. For example, a marketer can change the temperature of his business to appeal to his customers. Another option is to add aroma to the visit to make it more enjoyable. In addition, some stores can use large displays as visual effects to keep clients engaged during their stay. Some people can add a suitable sound or piece of music to provide another layer of appeasement. Some companies might go over and beyond by hosting an unique event or activity to provide their customers a hands-on experience.

Instead of fixing prices, corporations are attempting to discover new ways to enhance the sensory enjoyment of their target audience, according to market demand. Everyone is in the race to discover new ways to exploit the sensuous quotient, whether it’s CCD or Chayos, Bournville by Cadbury or an exquisitely crafted Mont Blanc pen, music from iTunes or ad-free Spotify and many more. It also aids in lowering price sensitivity among users when compared to the potential enjoyment they are getting. Let’s speak about individual senses and how companies might appeal to them.

  • Sound: It all began when someone realised the commercial potential of radio transmission. In 1922, a real estate developer in New York City broadcasted the first recorded radio commercial. Commercial broadcasing began in India in 1967 and has continued since then. Currently, radio transmission reaches approximately 97.5 per cent of the population. We can simply assess its strength in terms of the importance of sound as one of the effective senses based on this reacibility of radio broadcasting in India. Currently, marketers are intentionally engaging the hearing sense in a variety of creative ways, like playing calming music in stores, advertising on iTunes or Spotify, leveraging IVR phone calls to promote various products and services, and merging it with sight/visuals in Youtube advertisements.
  • Sight: “A picture is worth a thousand words” – Anonymous. Pictures or graphics, as someone correctly stated, play an important role in promoting a product or a brand. It transmits a lot of information that words can’t convey. Many cosmetics businesses are taking toll with the use of graphic pictures to attract their customers’ attention. As a result, corporations invest a significant amount of money in the design of their logo, website, packaging, and labelling, as well as any other visuals used in their IMC.
  • Smell: Remember when the aroma of a hot samosa altered your way home, or when hot fried pakodas gave you pleasure during the rainy season? These tantalising aromas will not deter you from impulse shopping or eating. Marketers are successfully targeting their customers’ noses with non-edible items such as deodorants, perfumes & scents, incense sticks, air-freshners, and many others. Restaurants and cafés are two more categories that skillfully leverage the sense. Marketers from the gifting, paint, cosmetics, and skin care industries are also successful additions. On the contrary, Oral care targets the same sense but in a different perspective – “how to get rid of bad breath”.
  • Taste: Taste is a simple concept that people have been experimenting with for a long time. A lovely shopkeeper offers you a piece of candy simply to give you a taste of the delights. Alternatively, a household member will normally taste one grape to determine its sweetness before deciding whether or not to purchase it. This has been going on for a long time in local or traditional market setups. Officially, in terms of branding, Parle pioneered it in India by providing a dual taste (sweet-salty) to their audience in one bite, satiating their taste buds. It was later followed by Britannia, which offered a 50:50 split. Tropicana pure fruit juice recently reaped the rewards of its customers’ “taste” receptors.
  • Touch/feel: In the offline shopping experience, marketers may readily target this sensation by using imaginative packaging, fabric surfaces, and other elements that buyers can directly touch and feel. In an internet setting, it is one of the most difficult senses to engage directly while marketing a brand. Thanks to touch technology, which is attempting to figure out how to benefit from the touch sense. Apart from touch technology (smartphones, computers, ATM machines, shopping vending machines, and so on), marketers are constantly looking for new ways to make money. For example, Navratna cool oil and talc, Samsung Instant Cool AC, and Liril, among others, have recently concentrated on the “touch/feel” sensation of their clients.

In search of perfect blend of senses: Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts experimented not only with their target audience’s taste buds by providing exceptional flavour, but also with other senses by providing sensory perks such as atmosphere, audio-visual, tech-support like wifi, and many more. While most of the cues a consumer receives are visual, marketers can build unique branding by using other senses. Experintial participation at a highly intimate level of each and every customer is vital to success in sensory branding approach, whether you’re sitting in Starbucks sipping coffee while reading a novel or licking a simple oreo cookie at home.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Anuradha Yadav
Assistant Professor


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