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The multisensory brand experience

Posted by Tom Croft - Head of Marketing at PHMG on

Consumers don’t just want to observe a brand, they want to experience it – which is why the trend for multisensory marketing remains on the rise. By developing experiences that stimulate more than just the eye, brands are connecting with their audiences not only on a logical basis, but an emotional one too – resulting in long-term loyalty. Join us as we explore the five senses of marketing, and discover how sight, smell, taste, touch and sound work to captivate the customer.

Sight has long been the go-to sense in branding, with businesses developing logos, fonts, colour schemes and designs to catch the customer eye. But as the statistics prove, imagery is no longer enough. A 2015 study by Event Marketing uncovered that 98% of people believe being exposed to a product through an experiential marketing campaign would make them far more inclined to purchase it. With such a strong preference displayed, it’s clear why more and more companies are incorporating experiential elements into their practices – developing full-scale stunts, holding events, and even introducing VR technology as a way to really immerse customers in their world. The likes of Nissan, North Face, Mercedes and Samsung have all made the virtual a reality, pushing the possibilities of sight with images that may not be believed even when seen. Beyond the eye, VR is also now incorporating elements of touch, with new Smart Gloves allowing wearers to feel sensations from a virtual object. And on a more accessible level, tech brands everywhere have incorporated touchscreens to give users a tactile way to interact with their product. Apple has also taken this idea one step further in the latest update to their watch, which introduces a GPS feature that’s able to literally nudge you in the right direction.

From sight and sound, we move to taste and smell – two senses that may not be traditionally associated with marketing – yet they can be hugely effective in developing brand experiences. Smell in particular is connected to the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotions and memories, so stimulating this enhances recall and connection in a consumer. Therefore, several brands are known to have developed a signature scent – including luxury hotels such as the Hyatt chain, and on-trend store Abercrombie and Fitch. Scent is also powerful in influencing customer behaviour, as Dunkin Donuts discovered when they released a coffee aroma alongside their adverts on South Korean buses, and saw a 29% increase in sales at stores located by these bus stops. When it comes to taste, sampling has long been a part of the in-store experience for food manufacturers. And even when a brand isn’t traditionally associated with food, forming this connection can be a strong way to broaden appeal. Ikea is now just as renowned for its meatballs as its flat-pack furniture, encouraging more customers through their doors with their Swedish menu.  

There’s one sense we’ve yet to mention, and it’s perhaps the most powerful in giving an audience a complete brand experience. While we’re able to close our eyes to visual branding, it’s difficult to shut our ears – making sound the medium that gets right to the heart of the customer. Music in particular has a unique ability to inspire emotion in a listener, and when this is tied to a brand, it makes the company all the more memorable for the feelings it stirs. This is most powerful when a track is written exclusively for a company, as listeners have no preconceptions and develop emotions specific to the brand. Sound effects are equally important too, as BMW realised when they amped the sound of the engine through the car’s speakers to enhance their driving experience. And most remarkably, sound has the power to influence our other senses. Research proves that pairing specific sounds with certain foods and drinks works to enhance flavour – which is why British Airways has hand-picked a playlist of 13 tracks to complement their menu and improve the in-flight dining experience.

There are many ways for businesses to employ multisensory marketing – but you don’t need VR capabilities, a carefully constructed menu or your own scent to appeal to customers on an emotional basis. With an audio branding production, you’ll combine copy, voice and music to convey exactly what makes you unique, creating a memorable brand experience that speaks straight to a truly captive audience.

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