Successful sensory marketing leads to an unforgettable journey : Bombay Sapphire
‘Can I tempt you with a sample of our homemade cinnamon buns? I dare say the taste will knock your socks off.’ There’s nothing new about drawing clients in with tantalising smells and delicious free samples. Bakers and merchants have been using the trick for decades to increase sales. Today, major brands that want to offer unforgettable experiences are again turning to sensory marketing. The idea: engage in seductive selling that stimulates multiple senses.
Efforts that reach beyond two dimensions are hot right now. KLM is letting passengers from other airlines experience first-class service through their Flight Upgrader VR tool. And the 4D version of Jurassic Park is sending patrons home with wet hair, after a dinosaur sneezes in the film. But why do multi-sensory experiences feel so intense?
The explanation lies in the field of sensory marketing. Sensory stimuli can reinforce each other, so long as they are fully aligned. Lounge music is perfectly in tune at a beach bar. But contradictory stimuli – like good food in a draughty restaurant – creates irritation. Triggering the right sensory experiences with consumers can reinforce a positive perception of your product.
For quite some time, some industries have been testing the effect of ‘embodied cognition’: the idea that we make unconscious decisions based on physical sensations. Think here of car manufacturers who develop the perfect ‘new car smell’, or spend time on the satisfyingly soft sound the doors make when you close them. Now, add to that list the actual case of Bombay Sapphire. It put sensory marketing to good use at Schiphol in April.
A story in scents and sensations
Bombay Sapphire’s striking blue bottle does everything but jump off the shelf. But how can you best tell the story behind your gin? Of course, you could choose to wander around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for a few weeks, harping about the Moroccan coriander, Javanese tail pepper, and eight other exotic ingredients that give Bombay its unique flavour. But is that the best spend of your marketing budget? Bombay Sapphire took another route entirely: Bacardi’s famous gin brand designed a way for visitors to experience all that explosive flavour for themselves.
In April, the House of Bombay appeared in lounge 2 at Schiphol. It was a miniature replica of the tropical greenhouse in which ingredients for the gin are grown at the British distillery. The House – complete with birdsong and waterfall sound effects – let travellers get up close and personal with Bombay: delightful gin bubbles dropped down from the copper-coloured ceiling plate onto visitors’ curious hands, faces and tongues. When touched, the bubbles evaporated into veritable flavour clouds, as if by magic. A feast for the eyes, the ears, the nose, the lips, and the fingertips.
Raise a glass to success
Bacardi’s choice to use sensory marketing proved to be a good one. The brand saw a sales uplift of 365% during the campaign. And in the first week alone, the blue bottle’s sales volume was 310% higher than in the same week the previous year. Bacardi learned quickly: complementary sensory experiences are key. Attend to all five senses, and ensure that all stimuli fit well together.
Sensory marketing isn’t just limited to tangible, taste-able products. Soothing telephone aftercare, pleasing customer reception or order confirmations on beautiful, pleasant-feeling paper are all examples of sensory marketing, and all easily implemented. But some industries will face bigger challenges than others. Producers of French cheese will certainly need to be careful when it comes to sensory stimulation. The way to their customers’ hearts may not be through their noses.
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