Multi-sensory marketing might increase sales by 29%

Submitted by: Ulbe Jelluma 31/05/2016

Finally we have convincing proof of the power of sensory marketing. We’ve referred to the importance of sensory marketing a number of times. Often we showed nice examples of how brands and agencies came up with campaigns that triggered smelling, listening, tasting or touching advertising. Recently PHD, Newsworks and UCL presented facts about the importance of touch.

Finally we have convincing proof of the power of sensory marketing. We’ve referred to the importance of sensory marketing a number of times. Often we showed nice examples of how brands and agencies came up with campaigns that triggered smelling, listening, tasting or touching advertising. Recently PHD, Newsworks and UCL presented facts about the importance of touch in the study Touching is Believing.

Multi-sensory marketing’s goal is to surprise and to engage the consumers more. And it includes various applications. Like UK cinema Odeon’s marketing director Andy Edge mentioned he might be looking into sending out business cards with High Definition video. We’ve seen the Land Rover mailing that one could eat. Fanta’s advertisement that could also be eating to taste the new flavour. McCain Foods releasing an aroma of baked potatoes in bus shelters. Or even Dunkin Donuts releasing coffee aroma in busses when their jingle was played. This action caused a 29% increase in sales! And print can trigger all senses. The current understanding of the effectiveness of multi-sensory marketing is based upon the fact that when triggering multi senses we have a higher level of engagement with the message or brand. The message leaves a multitude of traces in the brain. 

Neuroscience

Research into multi-sensory marketing is therefore closely linked to neuroscience. The emphasis in advertising is on the seeing and listening, touch or smell are not used a lot. Whereas in the advertising clutter triggering other senses, like touch could make a difference in the brain. There is this example from France, where when a waiter touched a customer with the tip tray, the tips increased with 128%. From initially 11% this increased to 25% of all customers tipping the waiter.

The study

PHD, Newsworks and UCL conducted a study including a printed newspaper, a tablet and a computer. Respondents received a printed newspaper or a newspaper on a tablet or PC  Each newspaper version contained 9 ads of which 4 test ads. The post read results showed that the touch improves brand trust. The touchable format of newspapers and tablets increases reader confidence, satisfaction, reliability and trust in advertised brands. By having the possibility to touch the newspaper, purchase intention increases with 24%. In comparison with the PC version the brands are seen as more honest (+8%), never disappoint (+38%) and give confidence (+8%). 

The tablet version (=touch) also has higher scores on some key metrics compared to the PC version. Spontaneous awareness was 59% for the tablet ad, which is 13% higher than the PC version. This proves the power of touch also for a tablet. For the full presentation of the results click here.

The implications

PHD, a media planning agency, concludes that media planning should take the touch sense in consideration. Media planning tends to focus on the head and the heart. Touch should be added as it links both the rational and the emotional part of our brain. The challenge for brands is to get the mix of sense triggers right.  A recent study provides insight into which brands might be best using multi-sensory marketing. The study differentiates between brands on the basis of a fit between the brand’s personality and the sensory trigger. A brand can have a sincere personality or a be more exciting. In the USA Hallmark, Ford and Coca-Cola belong to the first group of sincere brands. Mountain Dew, BMW and Pepsi are seen as the more exciting brands. And the effectiveness of applying sensory triggers depends on the personality. Adding sensory triggers to the packaging of sincere brands creates less desire for the brand. However the exciting brands can fully exploit the benefits of multi-sensory triggers. The brands benefits from adding sensory elements to the packaging with a higher desire for the brand. 

Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, a specialist in the area of touch, adds the dimension of the consumer. “Some consumers are more receptive to touch. They tend to be more conscious about what they’re touching and more aware of the weight or texture of specific items they are considering to buy. Touch is very powerful and when it comes for example to direct mail, marketers should focus on whether a surface is rough or smooth to grab the recipient’s attention,” she advises.