For centuries, marketers have innately understood the value of multi-sensory marketing. From the scent of fresh bread luring hungry customers into a bakery to the “plop plop, fizz fizz” sound of Alka-Seltzer releasing its healing properties, brands have used elements of multi-sensory marketing, but have generally lacked a systematic approach to engaging the senses.
In recent years, however, marketers have shown a renewed focus on forging emotional connections through all five senses—sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. And learnings from behavioral science suggest that developing strong multi-sensory strategies will become essential for winning consumer loyalty in the near future.
This week we’re taking a look at just a few of the behavioral science principles behind multi-sensory marketing and highlighting one interesting finding from each of the five senses.
Insight #1 Sight – Vision is most important to consumers at the point of purchase and when getting familiar with the product. At later stages, other senses become more important. Qualitative research of juicers found participants used vision to examine the function of the product and observe the shape, “so big… it’s so cute… the top is like a speedboat” and only touched when they found something special.
Insight #2 Sound – When music is familiar, shoppers reported longer shopping times, but actually shopped longer when the music was unfamiliar.
Insight #3 Touch – Merely touching an object results in an increase in perceived ownership of that object. Higher levels of interaction with a product, by means of augmented reality, also has a positive effect on perceived ownership, regardless of the product type, affecting product attitudes and purchase intentions.
Insight #4 Smell – Distinctly scented objects enhance recall for other attributes of the object; both with and without a scent‐aid being present at the time of recall. In one study, when a pencil or a facial tissue was imbued with scent (vs. not), recall for the brand’s other attributes increased significantly—with the effects lasting as much as 2 weeks after exposure.
Insight #5 Taste – There is a positive relationship between brand familiarity and taste…when people are familiar with a brand, they think it tastes better. In one study, children tasted identical foods and drinks either in packaging from McDonald’s or from unbranded packaging. Children preferred the taste of foods and drinks they believed were from McDonald’s.
If your firm has an interest in collaborating to explore multi-sensory marketing further, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Chen et al (2012). Sensory importance and emotions at early stage of product experiences-- A qualitative study of juice squeezer. In Proceedings of the 2011 Conference on Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces (DPPI ’11). Association for Computing
 Brengman, M., Willems, K., & Van Kerrebroeck, H. (2019). Can’t touch this: the impact of augmented reality versus touch and non-touch interfaces on perceived ownership. Virtual Reality, 23(3), 269-280.