SENSORY MARKETING: THE POWER OF THE 5 SENSES IN RETAIL
Due to the constant need to create unique in-store experiences for customers, sensory marketing has gained significant popularity over the past few years due to its ability to provide a point of difference among stores. According to a study on neuromarketing conducted by The Rockefeller University, our capacity to remember our sensory experiences is: 1% of what we touch, 2% of what we hear, 5% of what we see, 15% of what we taste and 35% of what we smell.
However, as consumers we like to believe that we are autonomous when it comes to purchasing a product but nothing is further from the truth! We are, in fact, much less rational than we would like to think with between 85% and 95% of our purchases being subconscious decisions.
This means that creating emotional connections with customers is extremely effective in influencing their purchasing behaviour and, as a result, physical stores have an advantage over online stores when it comes to connecting with customers using sensory marketing. A variety of top international brands now have in-store experiences that use sight, sound, taste, touch or smell to create an emotional connection between customer, product and brand.
Our sense of smell is connected to our limbic system which regulates our emotions and memories which is why it is the sense with the most memory recall. An example of a brand that successfully uses scent marketing via smell is Rolls Royce. Whenever a Rolls Royce customer takes their car to an official garage, the car’s interior is perfumed with wood and leather scents to give it that “brand new car” smell. This evokes memories of when the owner first bought the car creating an emotive brand connection. Disney theme parks are another good example of sensory marketing via smell. Their use of the Smellitzer, a patented scent generator, to diffuse different scents around the park creates more visceral experiences for its visitors when shopping or waiting in line for an attraction.
Taste is probably the most difficult of the senses to implement in marketing due to the varying individual degree of what tastes good. In fact, supermarkets are one of the few sectors that utilise taste marketing with their offer of free tastings and samples. However, there are some brands outside of FMCG sector that are exploring the concept of creating a brand “taste”. Ikea is an example of a retail brand that has achieved a strong taste association for its brand via its in-store restaurants with 30% of Ikea customers now visiting the store just to eat. In addition to extending the customer’s store visit, the restaurants also increase the purchase potential not only food but also other Ikea products. In fact, due to its popularity among consumers a standalone Ikea restaurant with its famous meatballs could be coming to a neighbourhood near you soon!
Our sense of sound is always active even when sleeping. We simply cannot “turn off” our ability to hear. Studies have shown that when a person listens to music and they find it pleasing, their body releases dopamine which increases their disposition to buying. This explains why the majority of retailers play music in-store. The Inditex Group which includes brands such as Zara, Stradivarious, and Bershka, regulates the type of music, its tempo and volume in relation to each stores’ target market meaning each brand has its own distinguishable “musical identity”.
Touch provides us with an important amount of information to make an informed decision. It is a sense that is capable of generating an experience that is more connected and interactive for the customer. The almost 500 Apple stores worldwide are an example of a store that drives sensory marketing by allowing customers to use, feel and try its products when in-store. Touch enables the customers to evaluate the quality and functionality of the Apple products at the same time which facilitates the purchase process and drives brand loyalty.
Sight is the most developed of the senses as 83% of the information that we receive is via sight. It not only plays an important role in key retail moments, such as whether or not the customer enters a shop, but it also responsible for transmitting the brand image and values. The customer’s in-store visual experience is a combination of different stimuli including the store façade, the window display as well as the store’s interior where the design, furnishing, lighting and colour choices all come together. Flowbox, our dynamic lightbox, adds a animated visual display element in-store which enables brands to create unique, captivating experiences for customers.