As the end of the year dwindles down and we welcome back our intern Rebecca Miller during her winter break from Marietta College, we thought it would be appropriate to share with you her senior capstone project. We hope her findings on sensory marketing help inspire your marketing efforts for 2014.
Sensory marketing is a powerful marketing strategy that is gaining popularity. And it’s no wonder. After recognizing that consumers are overwhelmed by and tuning out the teams of explicit marketing appeals they receive daily, companies are turning to a more implicit approach that also streamlines and unifies brand messaging.
In the past, marketers and advertisers have appealed to consumer senses in one way or another, but not always with intention or in a holistic manner. Although studies have been done on each of the senses individually as far back as the 1970s, it wasn’t until 2008 that great interest developed in how the senses interrelate and impact each other to affect consumer perceptions, judgments and behaviors.
Companies are now using these insights to control the way consumers experience and relate to brands, but they need to understand and respect their newly found power.
Aradhna Krishna is a marketing professor at the University of Michigan and a leader in this field. In her research review that was published by the Journal of Consumer Psychology, she wrote,
“From a managerial perspective, sensory marketing can be used to create subconscious triggers that define consumer perceptions of abstract notions of the product (e.g., its sophistication, quality, elegance, innovativeness, modernity, interactivity)—the brand’s personality. It can also be used to affect the perceived quality of an abstract attribute like its color, taste, smell, or shape.”
When dealing with the senses, marketers are operating on an almost subliminal level. While sensory marketing opens the door to intrinsic communication, it also relies on catching consumers where they are vulnerable. If misused, consumers can be left feeling violated. Businesses need to act responsibly and use this strategy as a form of communication that benefits consumers, not a form of manipulation.