How To Use Sensory Marketing To Appeal To Any Audience


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Trust The Senses: Appealing To All Audiences Through Sensory Marketing

Think back to your childhood; or, for some of you, think back to yesterday's lunch. Do you remember the awe of entering a candy shop? There was an instant allure when entering its brightly colored interiorThe smells of chocolate, taffy and other sweet delights are embedded within the nose. The entire store became alive with candied spectacles as you imagined eating every item in the store, one handful at a time. It's almost as if the owner planned all of these sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and textures in advance. Chances are, that's exactly what happened. 

All set pieces found within the candy store must work in unison to create a particularly emotional experience for the customer. The owner employed a method that has been unconsciously utilized for centuries, but only recently studied and employed by businesses. This method is called sensory marketing, and it just might become your business's most used marketing tool. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses how to use sensory marketing to appeal to any audience. 

How To Use Sensory Marketing To Appeal To Any Audience

Marketing Inception: Penetrating The Senses 

The strategy of engaging the senses to sell products is referred to as sensory marketing. It is a strategy that influences the consumer’s perception of brands by using experiences to establish positive emotional connections with them. It’s sort of like…marketing inception.

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How can we plant the idea of us in their minds…forever?

Ok, maybe not forever, but you get the point. The science behind it is fascinating, but also geeky. So get ready to learn some new things!

We all have five senses - sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste...

And that’s it! Just kidding, there's a little bit more than that: When two or more senses are appealed to in a consistent way, they amplify each other.

If the nose likes what it’s smelling, and the eyes like what they're seeing, they’ll actually form a sort of sensory soup boosting each other’s sensory strengths. The smells and sights become even more powerful.

When this is done subtly and deliberately, consumers are much more likely to retain favor for a brand. Believe it or not, many brands actually spend a lot of time and money trying to determine which types of sensory cues best combine to create an effective, positive message.

As you can imagine, sensory marketing is hugely employed by car manufacturers and any other industry that revolves around the senses (food, beverage, apparel, etc.)

Take for example a movie theater. The haven for sensory experience. It’s impossible to make it successfully to your cozy recliner (most likely made from literal clouds) without walking past beautifully lit wall posters and popcorn-scented concession stands. Even the bathrooms smell like “movie magic” mainly due to the age-old symbiotic relationship between theaters and theater popcorn.

Sensory Marketing Overload: Anime And Video Gaming Events

Now it’s time to take an extended look into the world of sensory branding. Let’s highlight an industry that is often overlooked, but is a champion of this method: Anime and video game events.

If you’re familiar with either of these events, then you’re also attuned to the three “S’s” of geek events, the smell of sweat, soda, and shame. For the sake of this blog, we’ll add a fourth “S” for Sensory Marketing. Clever right?

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Apart from the four “S’s,” there is one more component of these events that frequent attendees will instantly recognize - cosplay.

The anime and video gaming industries boast fan bases of overwhelming proportions and unrivaled enthusiasm. These events are breeding grounds to buy and consume unique fan favorites from the product lines inspired by their favorite content.

Cosplay is a term that simply means “costume play.” Dress up as a character from an anime, video game, or really anything to assume their identities. “Dress up” is a light term, however. Cosplayers distance themselves from Halloween City shoppers by dedicating an exuberant amount of time to their craft, with many building their suits from scratch over a period of months. Cosplayers will act, speak, and even think like their favorite characters. National competitions are often held at these events to allow all experience levels - from novice to professional - a chance to compete for Cosplay glory. Cosplay is no joke, and it is considered by many to be performance art.

With a hobby or profession as meticulous as Cosplay, this also makes them a cash cow for brands. Why?

Because Cosplayers are the life energy of these events. They are able to connect with the attendees on a deep emotional level. Donning the garbs of someone’s all-time favorite character resonates extremely well with event visitors. They can see, smell, touch, hear, and…taste their childhood.

This is a major reason why brands collaborate with cosplayers - it is to do brand storytelling. IF brands can entice potential customers emotionally, they win. Cosplaying allows all five senses to activate, thus boosting each other's sensory output.

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Studying The Senses: What's Everyone Up To?

By appealing to as many senses as possible, brands have the best opportunity to form close bonds with their customers. Let’s break down each sense to understand the complexities within the sensory experience.


Olfaction - Smell

Smell triggers memories and other emotions far more quickly and vividly than any of the other senses. With one whiff of a gymnasium, embarrassing memories from Prom Night can be immediately recovered.

Vision - Sight

Sight is the primary sense. Humans, unlike other animals, have evolved to rely mostly on sight. The dependence on them is near holistic. It can even overuse the other senses and persuade us against logic. What you see is not always what you get; but hey, at least you got something, right?

Haptic - Touch

Touch is the very first sense we develop, and it’s the de-facto sense for testing quality. This is why babies touch everything in their circumference. It’s how they learn, test, and collect data. Touch is their quality control for life.

Audition - Hearing

Sound sets the mood. So if you want to change the mood, change the music! Sound affects us deeply. Its reverberations can influence the tiniest of decisions in any given moment, so don’t negate this when thinking of senses to target.     

Taste - ….Just Taste

Taste is the most under-developed of the five senses. It relies heavily on smell and requires the other three senses to deliver a full taste experience.

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Engage All Five Senses - What Brands Need To Do

For the best marketing results, it is best to try and stimulate all five senses simultaneously. But is this possible?

Yes, it is. Any activity that involves in-person or one-to-one interaction offers advantageous situations to convert visitors into fanatics. In-person marketing, exhibitions, conferences, conventions, etc. are all places that present opportunities to market towards the five senses. Combine as many techniques as possible to create truly memorable experiences for the consumers you are trying to catch.

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No matter your business, branded event marketing can be made simpler when targeting the senses. So the next time that you find yourself participating in any business events or expos, hire a cosplayer. You could always grab a needle and thread and try yourself, but ... it does take some skills.

So...Now What?

A lot of people don't realize how effective product placement and influencer marketing is - and how it actually works, which means a lot of brand marketers don't either.  This is why we've spent so much time building materials that help explain this wonderful world and magic of content and influencer partnerships. 

To learn more about making product placement work for your brand, read our blog on 3 Reasons Why Productions Use Product Placement, as well as these blogs:

And if you are interested in learning more about social influencer and celebrity partnerships... then check out our Influencer Marketing School! We've created three-course options that will help your team better understand the landscape and get the most out of your time and money spent in the influencer marketing space.

Hollywood Branded Influencer Marketing School

Topics: Strategic PartnershipsSocial InfluencersProduct Placement & Branded Content