Traditional marketing has been neglecting a huge part of the human experience, by operating as a one-way conversation, brands have been pushing a message to their audience. Open up a dialogue with your customers through experiential marketing and create richer, more memorable experiences.

“The five human senses are of great importance for an individual’s experience of different purchase, frequency of purchase and consumption process.” - Rupini RV and Nandagopal R

With the introduction of new technologies like Amazons Echo and Google Home consumers seem open to the idea of integrating in new ways with the digital space around them. The fact that these products are so affordable means a huge market is there waiting to be targeted through new and sensory-driven strategies.

Sensory marketing looks to associate an emotional/ sensorial response with a brand or product. When consumers undergo an experience with your brand, your chance of making an emotional impact is greater, with consumers developing a confirmation bias based on a good feeling about your brand and then searching for evidence to support this feeling.

The next generation of marketing

Despite evolving customer trends, a competitive market and the rise of comparative online tools driving customers away from brand loyalty and towards more of a focus on price.

“Progressive brands are benefiting from these evolving trends and the future belongs to the companies that experiment with them most.” - Julia Manoukian

However, it’s this plateau in brand advocacy that has forced marketing to mature into crafting experiences that can’t be had anywhere else. This is key to building a relationship with your brand that a consumer feels is worth having. By harnessing these techniques experiential marketing can:

  • Increase ‘organic’ social media shares
  • Create a ‘buzz’ and discourse around your band
  • Build relationships and brand affinity
  • Offer free publicity by becoming ‘newsworthy’
Experiential marketing using lights

Sensory branding can be achieved by taking advantage of the 5 senses we experience. Different senses can be used for different sensations you want your customer to experience:


Achieved through the use of smell, a signature scent can help evoke an associated emotion your consumer has for your brand. Food brands such as McDonalds and even your supermarket bakery all use this to great effect. So much so that people are purchasing McDonald’s scented candles.


A jingle, voice and music all help dictate how a consumer feels walking into your store or watching your advertisement. With slow and calming music naturally encouraging consumers to spend more time browsing.


Design, packaging, style and colour are all factors in representing your brand a certain way. By harnessing psychology, you can make sure your brand is evoking the desired emotion you want to get across through semiotics, or the way colours are associated with moods.


Utilising the sense of taste allows you to come across as knowledgeable of your customer's lifestyle and delight consumers. See how brands used food and drink in their experiential marketing.


Giving something for a customer to physically interact with gives a sense of control. Using touchscreens for example, allow the user to hold something real and carry out a process at their pace.

Sensory marketing abstract billboard

If implemented authentically digital and social elements can provide two uses; by fusing digital elements into the user experience, any interaction between brand and customer become much more interactive. Financial institutions these days have their branch interiors outfitted with dozens of interactive touchscreens and educational kiosks looking to promote new services and entertain waning customers.

But also, experiential marketing doesn’t just have to benefit your customer you can also acquire useful actionable data. Allowing you to track and deliver tangible ROI for future marketing opportunities.

HSBC’s implementation of a new sensory identity

HSBC is a great case study for the new year as they have just moved to the ‘next phase’ of their global brand refresh. Previously they have been tackling the visual brand identity focusing on the visual sensations we talked about previously. This next phase sees HSBC take on “very unfamiliar turf” linking to the auditory senses of their customers by creating a new sound identity.

Having composed a new musical piece looking to be relevant to all 66 markets they’re operating in. As stated in HSBC’s news release the plans are to slowly introduce the audio into the call-in process then the app and marketing broadcasts. This links back to implementing your sensory marketing at intervals, creating a journey the customer goes on and as they keep discovering this sound identity in new places, they will soon associate it with the brand.

sensory marketing golden age of audio

There’s legitimate research into the effectiveness brand ‘sounds’ have on implementing their name within the consumer consciousness. Music within retail locations can help customers feel more welcome and gives a masking of privacy to any conversations being held in that location. The ‘Mood Media & Sacem Study’ revealed 56% of customers felt more comfortable having confidential conversations when ambient music was playing.

Sound identity historically has been very effective, take Intel’s infamous ‘bong’. A five-note sequence that lives deep inside each and every one of us was ranked the “second most addictive sound in the world” according to ‘Fast Company’, coming second after a baby laughing.

What to takeaway from experiential marketing

We seem as a culture to have diverted from video formats and moved to more auditory consumption, we’re currently seeing an audio renascence with Podcasts and services like Spotify and Apple Music being a huge source for people’s entertainment.

Experiential marketing that can take advantage of these current trends are going to offer consumers a new experience through means they are already accustomed to. Any customer facing business is able to establish this as part of their marketing campaigns, if implemented appropriately and are now encouraged to think outside the box and deliver a journey worth experiencing.

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