Sensory marketing: brands on a seduction spree of our 5 senses

While consumers used to buy something simply because they needed it, nowadays they’re looking for meaning and pleasure. They feel the need to have something unique, tailored to their needs and they take in emotional information when considering a product and then try to match it to their values and personal experiences.

With all this going on, conventional marketing showed itself to be too rational and analytical to tie in with the changing consumer purchasing patterns and there was a switch towards a marketing strategy which factored in sensorial and experience-based aspects. Advertisers needed to offer consumers more than just something off the shelves and with sensory marketing, they were reaching out with maximum creativity to please the senses.

It’s worth remembering just what sensory marketing involves. It brings together all the marketing techniques that make use of one or more of the 5 senses to persuade people to buy a product or service.

It sets out to seduce the consumer by stimulating the senses and turning the purchasing act into an experience to be remembered.

While touch, sight and taste have long been marketing staples especially as far as food is concerned, it’s only been since the noughties that the senses of smell and hearing have been brought into use.

Emotions are what hold memory together and they give brands an opening to get inside us. Not all brands, of course, try to appeal to consumers senses when trying to persuade them to buy the product or service they’re advertising.

Here are a few examples of brands which are focused on one of the 5 senses in their advertising:

Hearing: Coca-Cola ran studies on the sound made when a can is opened, to make it refreshing and make people feel thirsty.

Taste: Sephora marketed a range of edible cosmetics under the name of Desert Beauty

Smell: Harry’s run a poster campaign which gave off the smell of freshly-baked bread.


Sight: McDonald’s regularly come up with mouthwatering posters with the celebrated Big Mac in close-up in the centre.

Feel: Abercombie & Fitch use soft-touch fabrics in its shops to give consumers the feel for their products.

Some sensory marketing campaigns have become legends in their own time, such as French railway company SNCF, whose audio identity achieved a 98% recognition rate. The Nature & Découvertes chain of stores is also firmly associated with sensory marketing – anyone who goes into one of their shops is greeted by the 5 senses, including calming interior decoration, relaxing music, sample cups of tea and the scent of essential oils.

Sensory marketing has shown that appealing to consumers’ 5 senses makes them much more receptive. This marketing approach aims to connect directly with the consumer by knocking on the psychology door