Sensory Branding - Creating Retail Experience

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 1932 , Published on 25 May 2012

Brands should be identifiable even when components of marketing are not there. Advertisements are obsolete now. Only 34%-40% of the consumers can name the brand of a commercial they have seen. There is a possibility that the assured world of media and advertisements is no longer predictable. Now is the time when the consumer is more knowledgeable and bigger & better discounts, attractive special offers are not likely to hold the water.

So we have to revisit the fundamentals and analyze what actually drives the customers. Rich smell of butter scotch ice-cream in the refrigerator could take one back to earlier childhood days. By smell one can choose fresh fruits or avoid rotten fruits. This is the future of branding.

Our senses are linked to memory and can tap right into emotions. Our senses impact our purchasing decisions. Branding is all about building emotional connect with the consumer. Singapore girl is the prominent element of sensory marketing implemented by Singapore Airlines. The Singapore Girl is said to bring forth ""Asian values and hospitality"" and has been described as ""caring, warm, gentle, elegant and serene"".

The introduction of Stefan Floridian Waters (It is used for tailoring the effect of scent on its hot towels) is the perfect example by which Singapore airlines connects with its customers. All the 3-D and 4-D movies appeal to our senses and that is the reason they are the new and successful offerings in the entertainment market. So the more senses your brand appeals to, the stronger it is and higher is the price the consumers are willing to pay for it.

This takes branding to a whole new level. Ford has a specific branded aroma, which they have used since 2000.Like Ford; Chrysler uses a single fragrance for all its cars. Other manufacturers use different scents for different models. Categories which have embraced sensory branding so far are entertainment (4-D), food (food and the ambience of the place, e.g. the restaurant or music played in the backdrop) and travel (adventurous and unique experiences offered to the travelers).

In order to survive, brand must evaluate all the sensory touch points and integrate those to maximize the customer experience. The focus should be – how customers use your product.BMW recently partnered with Austrian natural cosmetics brand Susanne Kaufmann as part of its BMW i future-forward R&D initiative, and one of the first products they’ve come up with is the Purif-I hand sanitizer and moisturizer, which is made entirely from herbal extracts.

There are several touch points for the product market and service markets which can be leveraged with the help of sensory branding.


Service industry (Retail Banking) –

1. Interactions at the ATM

2. Transactions on the bank’s web sites

3. Meetings with the branch manager

Product Industry (Nike, expensive products)

1. Online order

2. Online sales with an opportunity to pick the items from a nearby store.

Implementing the sensory branding is a big challenge for retail industry and also an opportunity to differentiate its offerings. There are some steps that retail industry should look into:

a) Key out the requisite brand positioning

b) Design the sensory identity elements for the target customers.

c) Pilot test the sensory elements

d) Improve from the feedback given by consumers.

e) Optimize across the critical touch points.

For the retail industry it is necessitated to identify the optimal combination of sensory elements. Sensory branding opens up a new channel to connect with the customers and creates a lasting differentiation.

This article has been authored by Manu Vats from XIMB



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