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I often write about clever marketing activities on this blog. In the past it’s been new revenue streams from restaurant operators, or most recently personalisation of products in the run-up to Christmas. This time I’m focusing on our senses.

Brands tapping into our senses is nothing new. As consumers we’re used to having our eyes drawn to showstopping images, in-store samples that play on our gustatory sense or music that prompts buying behaviour. According to one study in America, playing slow music caused revenues to increase by 38% in a supermarket, and 41% in a restaurant. But like many things in our industry, progress is rapid and some of the more recent techniques are fascinating.

One of my favourites is scent marketing and it’s easy to see why brands focus on the sense of smell. According to ScentAir, a positive scent environment can elevate one’s mood by 40%, and 75% of our emotions are prompted by scent.

IKEA is one of the most prominent in UK retail when it comes to perfuming physical spaces to invoke emotions. Walk around a store and you’ll notice each room set has its own fragrance, while I’ve always been drawn to the smell of fresh flowers which hits you as enter the artificial flower section in my local store. Clever.

For many in the food industry, there is no need for artificial fragrances of course. The aroma of freshly baked products will always entice customers and Proactive’s recent case study with Cinnabon and Unox spoke about the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns in store. Cinnabon is regularly cited as one of the best brands at driving sales through scent and franchisees are required to put baking ovens near the front of their store, aided by the frequency of bakes throughout the day. 

Elsewhere, it would be foolish to mention sensory marketing without highlighting the success of Dans Le Noir?. This Islington restaurant describes itself as a unique location for a romantic dinner, or an evening with friends. Diners eat in the dark, served by blind waiters, from fish, meat and vegetarian surprise menus – ‘part sensory experience and part social experiment’, to quote Square Meal.

And my final example is an old one, but it shows the success of the campaign that it’s still one of the first things I think of when somebody talks about sensory marketing.

Back in 2014, McCain Foods placed multi-sensory ads in ten bus shelters across the UK to introduce their ‘Ready Made Jackets’. Passers-by were encouraged to interact with a giant 3D fibreglass jacket potato which, on the press of a button, heated up and let the aroma of freshly oven-baked potatoes fill the air. Because who doesn’t want that on a cold December afternoon at the bus stop?

What are you favourite examples of sensory marketing? Connect with me and share them on LinkedIn.