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Making sense of the senses


Making sense of the senses


According to international research company Millward Brown, 97% of all brand communication today is focused on two of our five senses. The same study revealed 75% of our emotions are generated by what we smell.

If smell is the most impressionable and responsive sense, why are we not seeing more focus on multiple sensory brand engagements? Smells ignite memories and appeal to feelings without being filtered and analysed by the brain (which is how the remaining four senses are processed).

How do we effectively engage all five senses whilst remaining relevant?

Some clever brands are doing just that, effectively utilising all major senses, sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, and are reaping the benefits.

In retail, the use of scent has been well documented. Outdoor clothing supplier The North Face believed they could enhance their customers shopping experience and brand recall using the scent of their stores. To reflect the retail concepts of bold imagery and nature, The North Face combined scents of hinoki, rosemary, pine and eucalyptus to give the store the smell of wilderness.

A visit to a Virgin Megastore or a flight on a Singapore Airlines jumbo is a carefully crafted multi-sensory experience. Virgin has designed their stores to create a shopping experience. Bean Bags, carefully selected staff, listening booths and unique background music are all vital to the Virgin experience.

Singapore Airlines also pay careful attention to each sense; the aircraft cabin has a very carefully selected fragrance, and interior, while the food and service is also carefully tailored to reflect the overall brand experience.

At a recent Chloe event for the launch of their latest rose scented fragrance they ensured the activation targeted all the senses. Guests tasted martinis made with rosewater, smelled more than 3000 cut roses, heard a collection of music selected to reflect the Chloe brand values, and saw the unique design of the bottle.

Touch has traditionally been the hardest emotion to capture. Initially online shopping for clothes was slow to take off because customers couldn’t feel the texture of the clothing. This has certainly changed the last couple of years as customers have grown less wary of online shopping.

One current example of touch used in a marketing campaign is the new Coca-Cola bottle design. While they have maintained the visual stimulus of the patented contour bottle, they have incorporated feel into the design. The feel of the new extra grip bottle in the hand provides a unique sensory experience. Although I must admit I am still not convinced my Coke needed additional grip. But I must say I now sleep sound at night knowing that my 390ml bottle will always sit safely and snugly in my hand.

People have an emotional attachment to certain smells and feelings. The smell of freshly brewed coffee makes me think of Sunday, which in turn makes me think of the paper. The Sunday Age are capitalising on this emotional attachment to Sundays in their latest ad campaign.

Everything we see, smell, touch, hear and taste elicits an emotion. It is vital for advertisers and marketers to be aware of all of the emotions, not just sight and sound when delivering a campaign.

Winning the hearts and minds of customers is paramount so the consumer experience should activate connection with all five senses. This is a truly unique platform (when effectively designed and activated) and we cant underestimate the psychological importance of appealing to the senses.

When multiple senses are engaged they provoke emotive response and increase the ability for a person to absorb and remember information. Why don’t we use that to our advantage?


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