Sensory Branding Tactics That Matter to Shoppers

POSTED BY Greg Keating ON Sep 2, 2016 8:30:00 AM


Sensory branding is a concept that is based on the idea that people are more open to purchase products when all five of their senses are engaged during the shopping process. While traditional advertising tends to focus solely on sight, many businesses are now utilizing other senses to create a stronger connection with their potential customers. This strategy has been proven to establish a more powerful and longer lasting relationship between brands and their consumers.

Most marketing professionals are well aware of the fact that a brand is made up of so much more than just a name and logo. Although the visual elements of a brand are often the things that grab our attention first, we have other senses that are just as important as sight, and many companies make use of them to create lasting impressions in people’s minds.

With the advent of virtual and 3D technology, sight-based marketing strategies have only become more prominent, often to the detriment of the businesses employing these techniques. An interesting article on the matter from Branding Strategy Insider states that, “While digital and augmented reality are new and sexy, maybe we need to remind ourselves that humans are still designed to experience the world through all of our senses, not just one.”

Below, we explore the use of sound and smell in marketing, and how they can compliment an existing strategy that focuses solely on sight.

Utilising Scent in Marketing Campaigns

Most consumers don’t give a great deal of thought to how a store smells – or if it impacts the way that we make purchases. This is partly due to the fact that the scents being deployed are intentionally meant to be subtle, or even undetectable. But did you know that research has shown smell to be the sense that is most closely tied to our emotions?

It’s common knowledge that we will often get an immediate and powerful feeling when we smell something. Humans can remember thousands of distinct odors that trigger memories and evoke strong feelings within us. That’s why retailers incorporate smell into their marketing efforts in an attempt to lure us towards their products.

There are numerous ways in which retailers utilize scent, but perhaps the most common is through ambient scents within a store, which have been proven to affect people's purchasing habits. This technique can also impact whether or not a customer will return to a store. There are companies that specialize in helping brands leverage scent marketing to their benefit.

Utilizing Sound in Marketing Campaigns

The majority of us don't typically give much thought to the background music we hear when are shopping in a retail store. We might decide to sing along if it's a song we know or just ignore it if we don't; but either way, the music is working its magic to get you to spend more of your hard earned dollars.

Research has shown that music deeply affects our emotions, moods and even our physical well-being. For example: when stores play slower paced music, their customers are more likely to take their time browsing, while faster music has been proven to influence people to spend more money.

Age also comes into play here. Some brands believe that younger people can withstand loud music longer, while older individuals may avoid an establishment that has the tunes cranked up. This effect enables retailers to influence the types of clientele that frequent their outlets and therefore gives them greater control over their image. In this case, whether they wish to be viewed as youthful, or more mature.

Additionally, shoppers have been said to make more impulsive purchases when they're overstimulated. A louder volume of music leads to sensory overload, which weakens self-control, and triggers impulsive purchase behavior. Sensory-savvy brands reap the benefits of creating an environment that overstimulates the brain.


Before using the strategy of sensory branding, it’s crucial for marketers to have an understanding about the impact that these techniques will have on a customer, and how to best measure the outcomes. As brands struggle to compete in today’s ultra-competitive economy, the strategic use of sensory information can provide a critical advantage, and lead to greater success in their marketing endeavors. 

Subscribe to our Blog

Topics branding

Request a Free Consultation