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A monthly column brought to you by the Malta Business Weekly. Conceived especially for the small enterprise with limited resources and time, “Marketing on a Diet” brings you cost-effective easy-to-digest marketing tips that deliver business results in an increasingly hyper-competitive environment.
What does your product smell like?
When managing your brands, whether you do it consciously or not, you are constantly seeking new ways of interacting with and engaging your customers. The problem is that, no matter how innovative you try to be, you usually always end up doing more of the same – developing brand communications (whether through advertising or in-store) that appeal to either or both the visual and auditory senses. In essence, we try to make as much noise as possible! There is a much deeper and long-lasting level at which you can interact with current and potential customers however, by appealing to more than these two basic senses and by thinking about how your product, service, marketing communications and customer environment appeal to the five human senses. There is nothing wrong with developing high-impact and impressive visual and auditory communications. Actually this is something you should constantly strive for. You need to ensure however, that such communications not only impress, but rest impressed in the minds and hearts of your audience. This is where multisensory marketing comes in. Multisensory marketing offers you the opportunity to create an emotional bond by directly impacting on the five senses of current and prospective customers, with the objective of influencing behaviour and attitudes towards a particular brand. This tapping into the emotional side of customers also influences the memories that customers carry with them about their experience with your brand. Multisensory marketing gives managers the emotional engagement with customers they need for their communications to fly over the clutter of advertising in the market, and differentiate their positioning from that of their competitors. For the brand manager multisensory marketing also adds longevity to branding and marketing efforts (improving return on marketing investment), whilst for the customer it reduces cognitive workload (making brand associations easier) and facilitates recall (making positive word-of-mouth promotion more likely).
The current situation Multisensory marketing is not new. It has been in use by various major brands across the globe for quite some time. For example, Kellogg’s design the sound of their cereals in a lab to appeal to the sense of sound, Singapore Airlines matches the aroma in the cabin (sense of smell) with the interior colour scheme and the uniforms worn by flight attendants (sense of sight). What is still underexploited however is the systematically planned approach required for the full benefits of multisensory marketing to be harnessed, and the broad utilisation of more than 2 senses concurrently. The benefits that can be gained from developing positive brand-related sensory experiences cannot be underestimated. According to the Behavioural Science and Cognitive Studies at the University of California Press, “People remember 20% of what they hear. If they see and hear it they remember about 80%.” This study was concerned with the holistic management of two senses. Imagine the results that could be obtained by harnessing more than two! Focusing on the auditory (sense of hearing) and visual (sense of sight) elements of our communications is what comes most natural to most marketers. And let’s face it – that is also what all your competitors are doing! If you are looking however to shift your marketing efforts into a higher gear, answer this simple question “What does my product smell like?” The Sense of Smell Referred to as Olfactory Marketing, use of smells and aromas started in the 1980s when British supermarkets realised, almost by accident, that having a bakery (emanating aromas of freshly baked products) not only pushed up the sales of bread, but also of other seemingly unrelated products carried on the shelves. The potential which can be unlocked through the sense of smell is enormous. Suffice to say that the sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than the sense of taste. Smell can also be harnessed by business owners (from retail to catering establishments, including banks and supermarkets) to add an emotional and memorable element to an otherwise stale customer environment. This because the average human is 100 times more likely to remember a scent over something seen, heard or touched. In fact, “memory for odour is markedly resistant to time, easily accessed and tends to be characterised by a degree of emotion, clarity and vividness.” (Laird 1935; Engen & Ross 1973; Hertz and Cupchik 1992)
Such conclusions are further supported by research from the Sense of Smell Institute which found that “people can recall smells with 65% accuracy after a year, while the visual recall of photos sinks to about 50% after only three months.” Can’t remember where you took a photo on your last family holiday, but can still recall the aromas of your grandmother’s home-made cooking? Now you know why. But what does this mean in practice for the owner of, say, a medium-sized retail store? When customers associate a unique and positive odour with your retail environment they develop quick associations with the brand, thus making any branding and marketing efforts more effective. It also allows you to stand out from the crowd and differentiate your store from competition in a sustainable manner which is very hard to copy. The shopping experience will also be much more memorable, thus multiplying many times over the possibility of free advertising through word-ofmouth. Various emotions can be evoked in customers to facilitate specific responses and behaviour. For example, smell can be used to excite a client at a casino, create a sense of calmness in a customer care office (normally associated with the stress of submitting complaints), or conjure images of the Caribbean in a travel agency. A number of industries have long realised the potential that the sense of smell has in evoking emotions, creating the right mood and influencing customer behaviour. Think of the smell of a new car straight out of the showroom – hard to forget. Companies like Rolls Royce and Citroen have now made it a feature on most of their models – the latter starting with the Citroen C4. Putting it all together It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that sensorial experiences can be created by buying off-theshelf solutions and implementing them the same day – maybe by simply adding background music to a retail environment or making staff wear a specific type of perfume. However, multisensory marketing is only effective when it is strategically planned for and seamlessly integrated within a holistic strategic plan. It also needs to be faithful to the core brand message – after all, it is only this which sets you apart from your competition. Developing sensorial experiences based on your core brand identity ensures that your messages are unique, hard to imitate and appeal to your particular market segment.
Joshua G Giordimaina DipM MCIM 28 May 2009
The Malta Business Weekly
About the Author: Mr Joshua G Giordimaina is a graduate and member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) and lectures for the Institute on a regular basis. He is also a committee member of the CIM Members Group (Malta). He has contributed to and authored a number of thought leadership articles and white papers with a focus on marketing and tourism. He can be contacted on JoshuaGiordimaina@hotmail.com. For more articles and papers by this author, please visit http://www.scribd.com/joshuagiordimaina3100.
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