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New Frontiers

January 17, 2012
Is the new frontier of strategic marketing for the Casual Living industry pointing towards Sensory Marketing?

Sensory marketing engages the consumers' senses and affects their behaviors. These marketing techniques aim to seduce the consumer by using their senses to influence their feelings and behavior. The strategy is based on the idea that a customer whose senses are fully engaged will stay longer and buy more. Sensory marketing establishes the relevance of the five senses in order to target customers and differentiate products, as well as positioning desires in the customer's minds.

The five senses that I am referring to are Visual Factors/Sight, Sonorous Factors /Hearing, Olfactory Factors/Smell, Tactile Factors/Touch, Gustative Factors/Taste.Senses



Retail environments are unquestionably well positioned to appeal to all five senses. Yet too many businesses don't even make an effort to get beyond visual appeal - are you doing all you can to maximize sensory engagement?

Sensory Engagement




If you hear a song on the radio from a special time in your life, you will immediately be transported back to that particular time and place in your mind and the good feelings from that time will come rushing back to you. The same concept applies to scents that you smell. For example, if you have had the luxury of visiting a spa and partaking in relaxing services such as a massage or facial, then every time you smell the scents common to spas you will feel soothed and relaxed. The scent of a yummy waffle cone will have you craving ice cream. Many stores that sell food or specialty food items will offer taste samples. Once you taste the delicious item you will be enticed to buy; I know that I do. Williams-Sonoma offers taste samples, as does Trader Joes, and as you walk into a Panera Bread Restaurant you will be greeted by samples at the beginning of the order line. Walk through your local mall and you will know exactly when you are near an Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister store from the fragrance that spills out of every crevice of the brick and mortar stores.

Sensory Branding is derived from the concept that we are most likely to produce, retain and revisit memory when all five senses are captured. Sound for example has the ability to influence our mood and sway our buying practices. Fast music decreases spending in a retail environment, illustrating how the pace of background music impacts customers spending. Our hands are a vital link between our brains and the world. When we experience an enjoyable touch, such as soft or textured Sunbrella fabric, the brain sets free a hormone called oxytocin, prompting feelings of comfort and calm. Researchers have found that shoppers who touch a product are more likely to purchase and the ability to touch a product intensifies our trust in the item's quality. Smell prompts certain regions of the brain in control of emotions and memories. Smell is the only sense of ours with a straight link to the brain, thus making the reaction instantaneous. When we smell, we feel, and these areas of the brain associate emotion to memories.

The senses control our emotions and decision-making. Touch, smell, taste, sound and the look of a product all play an important role in our appreciations, perspectives and consumption of a product. Understanding those roles provides a beneficial advantage in today's marketplace. Retailers are convinced that making this quick link to our feelings will possibly persuade us into selecting their merchandise over a competitor's.

Sensory Experience

Our senses entice us to buy, the aroma of vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and apple endeavor to get customers into the ideal frame of mind to actually spend. Scents appeal to our emotions as they put us in the frame of mind that allows a commitment to occur and buying is a commitment. Studies have shown that pleasant scents encourage shoppers to linger over a product, increase the numbers of times they look at it and in some cases increase their readiness to pay higher prices too. Music prompts memories from our past, and color influences many different reactions that all lure us on a certain level to snap up products.

Red is a very strong stimulation hue. It creates feelings of excitement or intensity, it increases the pulse and heart rate as it raises blood pressure and stimulates the appetite. Coke and Toyota use the color red. Orange, the Pantone 2012 color of the year, is friendlier than red, but still stimulates appetite, attracts attention, creates feelings of excitement, enthusiasm and warmth, the color orange is used by Sunbrella, Dunkin Donuts and Home Depot. Pink, last years Pantone color of the year is sweet and appealing. The color pink is used by Sweet'N Low and


Barbie. Yellow is a comforting, cheery and warm color used by Hertz and McDonalds golden arches. Green is connected to nature; it has a calming effect and is thought to relieve stress. It represents tranquility, good luck and health. Starbucks Coffee uses the color green. Blue is associated with sea, sky, and calmness and tranquility. It suggests trust and serenity; it can lower the pulse rate and body temperature. The color blue is used by Tuuci, Dasani Water and the Walt Disney Company. White is a sign of purity, cleanliness and coolness. It is a basic color that brings out every other color. Black is a symbol of quality used by Gloster and Mercedes. Brown brings to mind the feeling of warmth, comfort and security. It is often described as natural, down-to-earth, and conventional. The color brown is used by UPS & Tommy Bahama. Purple is the symbol of royalty and wealth and is used by Hallmark.

Knowing the impact that our senses have, this leads me to wonder why the furniture industry doesn't try harder to stimulate our senses to influence a purchase?
Sunbrella fabricsSunbrella Coordinating Fabric Groups

It really isn't complicated or that intricate to get started. Choose music that triggers the customer's sense of enjoyment, vacations and relaxation. Choose fabric colors that electrify and soothe, and try different scents to see which work best for your store. Just as you select various color fabrics for a particular furniture collection, try using distinct scents nearby the individual collections. For example, if you opt for a blue fabric, try using spa fragrances to activate customer's emotions. Hand pick a blue fabric with a good hand and pleasing touch and accessorize with coordinating decorations to visually impact the setting. This will accomplish the goal of engaging the customer's senses in an effort to control their emotions and decision-making process.

Let's share our experiences and opinions on how to utilize sensory marketing for the casual furniture industry. Write a comment to let me know if you have tried some of these strategies and if so which ones?

These are my outside views...