- SENSORY MARKETING
Sensory Design for Brands and Businesses
We use our traditional senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) to help make decisions and navigate the world of consumerism. Most brands focus their relevancy strongest on only two of these – sight and sound. It is through the use of imagery, design, texture, colour and rich sounds that strong emotional ties are built between a brand and its customer. But the strongest sense for evoking an emotional reaction is smell.
Brand identity is more critical today than ever before, as more and more businesses and products compete for consumer attention across an ever-increasing variety of channels. Our senses play a vital and complex role in forming our thoughts, impressions and behaviors. By targeting the senses, brands establish a stronger and enduring emotional connection with their consumers. As online shopping continues to skyrocket it becomes even more important that every face-to-face brand time with customers become even more memorable.
Any business that has the ability to control the customer’s environment in relationship to their brand experience can use ambient and olfactive branding. High-end retail chains, hotels, airlines, stores, banks and, even cruise ships are using signature scents to build their brands.
After touring the mall with my nose front and center, the most obvious and somewhat irritating use of distinctive fragrance is Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister as they pump their musky and masculine colognes through their ventilation systems. But I need to hold my nose, as I’m not their target audience of 12- 24 age youth who desires a heavy-duty stimulus of smells and loud music to get a reaction.
Other brands like Anthropologie, Aritzia, American Eagle Outfitters, Urban Outfitters and Old Navy all had subtle, unique fragrances that resonated with their environments. Standing out was the fashionable Hugo Boss store with their signature-scent of citrus, tamboti wood and tonka bean, Lululemon with its grassy and rosemary fragrance and the posh Tiffany& Co jewelry store with is cotton-candy scent.
Many brands fail to make use of their customers’ sense of smell. So harnessing the power of scents is an excellent opportunity for you to differentiate your brand from your competitors. As human memories are closely tied to smell, the longer you build your olfactive brand the more positive memories will be associated to your brand down memory lane.
In a first-of-its-kind study, a research team led by Simone Ritter of the Radboud University Behavioral Science Institute in the Netherlands reports the beneficial effect of sleep on creativity can be enhanced by an evocative scent. It is published in the December issue of the always-stimulating Journal of Sleep Research.
Ritter and her colleagues, including Maarten Bos of Harvard Business School, describe a study featuring 49 participants between the ages of 18 and 29. All arrived at a laboratory in the evening and watched a 10-minute video about volunteer work.
They were then sent to bed as they pondered the problem: How can people be motivated to volunteer more of their time? They were expected to provide some innovative answers first thing in the morning.
For two-thirds of the participants, “a hidden scent diffuser spread an orange-vanilla odor while participants watched the movie and were informed about the creativity task,” the researchers write. Before going to bed, they were given an envelope containing a second scent diffuser, which they were instructed to open before falling asleep.
Half of them were exposed to the same orange-vanilla scent that was in the air when they watched the video. The others were exposed to a different odor. The remaining participants (one-third of the total group) were exposed to no scent, either while sleeping or awake.
The following morning, everyone was given two minutes to list the creative solutions they had come up with. Afterwards, they selected what they felt was their most innovative idea—a task that was included since recognizing good ideas is a key component of creativity.
Two trained raters scored all the ideas on a creativity scale, giving high marks to concepts that were both novel and useful. They found the ideas of those who slept with the orange-vanilla odor were far more innovative than those who had slept with a different scent, or no odor at all.
In addition, those in the orange-vanilla group were much more likely to agree with the raters as to which of their ideas was the most genuinely creative. They were both more innovative and more perceptive regarding which of their innovations was the most promising.
Delta’s offering is Calm, an eau d’aeroport that it sprays in airplane cabins and infuses in the hot towels it gives out in premium classes. It has been spreading Calm for about two years, joining a handful of other carriers vying for olfactory distinction by developing their own individualized odours. The fragrant fliers include United Continental Holdings ,Turkish Airlines and Air Canada’s low-cost rouge operation. Spain’s Iberia is close to launching its own aroma, and Alaska Airlines is working on one.
The companies don’t plan to bottle their scents for retail, but they do see a commercial value in them. United marketing manager Mark Krolick says its new fragrance, provisionally called “Landing,” in concert with improvements like new lighting and redesigned gates, “will create a more relaxing environment. A good experience engenders brand preference, which probably will result in more booking,” he says. Airlines also say they aim for subtlety, so passengers who are sensitive to scents won’t recoil.
Fragrances increasingly have been in vogue among hotels and retail chains in recent years. Studies have shown that the sense of smell is closely linked to the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for emotion, memory and motivation. Proponents say a scent can elevate shoppers’ impressions of a store and cause them to stay longer and spend more money. A scent also can conjure up positive memories of being in a Ritz-Carlton lobby, thus helping to increase bookings.
till other carriers say it’s just what they need. Turkish Airlines in 2013 came out with “TK 1933,” a nod to its airline code and the year it was founded. The scent, whose 29 ingredients include lemon grass, ylang-ylang oil and bergamot, was created by a Turkish fragrance house. The airline says quantitative research showed TK 1933 produced feelings of “trust, peace, happiness, serenity and pleasure.”
Fatma Yuceler, Turkish Airlines’ general manager in Los Angeles, says the idea isn’t to entice passengers to buy more tickets. “Turkish Airlines is really aiming to be a big brand, but all the big brands have a perfume,” she says. “The point was to address all of the five senses in a brand. We were missing smell.”
Singapore Airlines was a pioneer of jet scent. It started spraying its signature “Stefan Floridian Waters,” a mélange of rose, lavender and citrus, on its hot towels more than 30 years ago.
United is just beginning to introduce its fragrance, a medley of orange peel, sandalwood, cedar and leather, developed by a Charlotte, N.C. scent marketing firm called ScentAir. Landing has landed at a few locations at United’s O’Hare Airport hub in Chicago, including airplane boarding bridges.
Certainly this is a growth trend and it is no surprise Airlines are now experimenting in a space where customer experience and mood are crucial to the travel experience. Yes there will be nay-sayers, and those concerned over the application of fragrance inside a closed space. Yes a very valid concern and the correct usage thereof will be the success or failure of such an application.
When we all know the health benefits of various scents from Lavender to Rosemary, and their ability to enhance our mood, memory and state of mind. I’ll take this any day over flatulence and stale cabin air
I say “Bring it on”
DUTCH scientists are recreating the deaths of some of the world’s most famous personalities by reconstructing their last moments using scents and sounds.
From the sweet smell of Jacqueline Kennedy’s perfume, mingled with the scent of John F Kennedy’s blood to Whitney Houston’s last drug-fuelled moments in a Beverly Hills bathtub, scientists at Breda university say they offer visitors a unique, if somewhat macabre, historical snapshot.
“We all have seen the images of JFK’s assassination, but what did it smell like?” asks Frederik Duerinck, from the communication and multimedia design faculty of Breda’s Avans university of applied sciences.
To find out, visitors to the Museum of the Image in the Netherlands with a sense of the morbid are invited to lie in a series of four silver metal boxes similar to those found in a morgue.
The boxes, which are pitch-dark inside, are rigged with pipes leading to bottles containing pressurised smells.
A soundtrack is played and different scents are released into the box to recreate a specific “final moment”.
For around five minutes, visitors can relive the smells and sounds believed to have surrounded four people whose deaths are etched into the world’s collective memory: Kennedy (1963); Diana, Princess of Wales (1997); Muammar Gaddafi (2011) and Houston (2012).
For instance, those wanting to experience Houston’s final moments are transported to a bathtub at the upmarket Beverly Hills hotel where the diva died in February 2012 at age 48.
A coroner ruled the singer died of accidental drowning, with cocaine and heart disease listed as contributing factors.
To the sounds of splashing water and Houston’s voice, a visitor first gets a whiff of generic cleaner, used in hotels around the world, followed by the olive oil the singer used in her tub.
Then a strong chemical odour, similar to that of cocaine fills the box, grabbing its occupant by the throat, followed by the sound of rushing water and then silence.
“Smell is rarely used in communication and we wanted to explore its uses,” said Mr Duerinck. “It’s a very powerful means of communication.”
Scientists have proved smells are linked to the part of the brain that regulates emotion and memory.
Odours are often used in the retail industry to trigger a buying mood in customers.
“Who doesn’t want to buy a loaf after catching a whiff of fresh bread?” said Mr Duerinck, who together with other lecturers and students has put together an inventory of odours and is devising new ways of using smell: for instance in storytelling.
It’s quite surprising and spectacular,” said Riks Soepenberg, 31, who experienced a recreation of Gaddafi’s last moments as the former Libyan strongman was hunted and killed by rebels in October 2011.
“You can watch the pictures as many times as you want — it’s just not the same thing,” he said of the attack on Gaddafi’s convoy, forcing the long-serving leader to hide in a drainage pipe before being murdered.
“I almost felt myself being hunted,” said Mr Soepenberg.
In coming months, the installation will be taken across Europe.
According to the researchers this is not necessarily an effort to re-create historical accuracy but rather they aim to investigate new ways of “smelling” old stories.
Indeed the stories of today and the future will be told in new and exciting multisensory formats, however I am quite sure that the best stories will be those that retain the age-old campfire experience of storytelling.
ION Orchard, the iconic shopper destination in Singapore has turned 5 amidst great celebration and fan fare.
ION hosted an exclusive dinner for VIPs, media and select shoppers, which included performances by Chris Daughtry and Elva Hsiao.
AllSense, the multisensory branding specialist, who has had the pleasure of working with ION Orchard since the mall opened 5 years ago, worked with ION’s marcoms team to develop a range of gift premiums. These premiums included candles, ScentSticks, fragrance sachets and 60,000 scented redemption cards (a high quality format of micro-encapsulated scratch and sniff) that went out as magazine inserts.
All these premiums were fragranced with ION Orchard’s highly memorable brand scent, known by the public at large as ION’s White Tea Scent.
The lobby of Toronto’s Trump Hotel has all of the elements of a ritzy, five-star lodging. The check-in desk is wrapped in Macassar ebony. The floor is inlaid with onyx and the drapes are velvet.
The most luxurious design detail, however, isn’t visible or even that discernible. Subtle wafts of champagne and caviar drift through the foyer, giving the place an air of exclusivity, and providing an olfactory signal to the c-suite clientele that they’ve arrived – literally and figuratively.
Scent is very similar to great lighting,” Pepe says. “Great lighting – as opposed to just a light bulb – can change the mood. It can warm you up. It can invite your guests. Smell is the same thing.” Harsh or garish lighting, on the other hand, can be repellent.
But whereas lighting is a commonly accepted requirement for a good space, scent design is much less ubiquitous. Until now. According to Pepe, the olfactive-branding industry (which she currently estimates to be worth $500-million a year, a tiny fraction of the multibillion-dollar perfume business) is set to boom over the next two years.
That’s “because we’re at a tipping point,” she says. “We, as a society, are kind of dead, visually. We’re on our phones, we are constantly looking at screens. So there’s this hole. And what scent does is that it propels you back in time so you remember what it felt like. If you’re walking in a mall, for example, and you smell crayons, you’re going right to that emotional connection of peeling the paper off. And all of a sudden there’s a human aspect to it.”
Credits – Tracy Pepe, the founder of Nose Knows Design, Brampton, Ont. and reporter Matthew Hague.
Audi Spain enlisted the human sense of smell to provoke their customers into reliving intangible sensations, transported back in time, to happy memories from the past, such as spring days, the smell of salt at the beach, and holidays in the mountains.
For this campaign, the brand selected a total of four regions of Spain embued with memorable scent cues: the Mediterranean breeze, the refreshing gusts of Finisterre, the light winds of Tarifa and the air of La Mancha. Each of these scents were captured by the brand and packed into different cans with a minimalist design.
The cans are available on the official website for Audi A3 Cabrio at www.aireA3cabrio.es. Customers can order one for free in exchange for a symbolic tweet or post on Facebook. The cans will also be available in special vending machines, which will be available at different summer events across Spain.
The use of smell in marketing strategies is called “olfactive marketing”. According to Sensory Marketing, “today, a big part of the research in the sensory marketing field is dedicated to the expansion of olfactive marketing, as it has gained an undeniable importance”. “Human beings have 10 millions olfactive receptors, which enables us to recognize more than 4000 different smells. Our smell memorization is therefore stronger than the visual one”, explains the same source. Marketing professionals use smell as a way to attract consumers, but also as a way to build their brand identity.
This campaign is a very relevant and creative way to promote a cabriolet as drivers of convertible cars have the opportunity to experience another level of freedom by feeling the wind on their face and inhaling the scents of nature as they drive through beautiful landscapes. With this campaign, Audi is building new brand cues that encourage consumers to associate their brand with positive and highly emotive olfactive experiences.
If last years event is anything to go by…..