For an example of “sensory marketing,” take a look at Singapore Airlines. They not only implement highly consistent visual themes, they’ve taken things up a notch by infusing the hot towels and perfume worn by flight attendants with a single fragrance, Stefan Floridian Waters. The patented aroma was specifically designed to complement the airline’s brand, and has since become a distinct trademark of Singapore Airlines.
The company also mandates that their flight attendants adhere to stringent appearance criteria, and wear uniforms made from fine silk, which coincidently, incorporate elements of the cabin decor. Each of these finely tuned details aims to serve one purpose — to create a unique experience that evokes feelings of comfort and luxury that the customer associates with Singapore Airlines. And for all intents and purposes, they do.
What Singapore Airlines understands, and what mobile has yet to truly embrace, is the power of sensory marketing.
Sensory marketing is a tool used to stimulate a consumer’s relationship with a brand and to create a long-lasting, positive emotional connection. Our senses — sight, sound, touch, smell and taste — help build emotion, and thus stay with us longer.
While sight is the most stimulated sense, sound is an effective complement. Certainly we all recognize the specific Intel notes at the end of their commercial, not to mention catchy jingles like Rice-A-Roni’s “the San Francisco treat.”
What about the less obvious – but equally impactful – examples? Did you know that Audi associated the sounds of a steady heartbeat, a piano and a breath with its cars? Or that Mercedes Benz established a team to create the most appealing sound for a closing car door? These sounds are not merely more pleasing to the ear, but are a great way to inspire lasting memories that tug at people’s heartstrings.
Yet sensory marketing goes beyond first impressions. As detailed in a recent article in Adage, research has shown that it can actually influence people’s purchasing behavior. No wonder real estate agents bake cookies in a house for sale, and wine stores play classical music.
So how can mobile make a move towards sensory marketing? By playing to its strengths. Mobile hardware natively contains sensory elements that stimulate people’s emotions and create engaging experiences. And mobile users are actually pre-conditioned to respond to sight, sound and touch. By leveraging these points, brands can make not only make ad viewing engaging, they might even make it fun.
Consider a user playing a mobile game. When he or she succeeds, the app could vibrate, sounding a “reward” tone, then provide the user with a branded ad and coupon to reinforce the positive moment. Or an ad for the film American Sniper could deliver vibrations that correspond with action scenes, like guns shooting and bombs exploding. These types of ads create highly immersive and memorable experiences, and can strengthen the brand’s ability to connect with the viewer.
Take, for example, the mobile ad unit Gyro360, which engages both the consumer’s visual and tactile senses. Designed to view panoramic or 360-degree images, such as the interior of a car, the user rotates their mobile device, which simulates the turning of the head. The image can be viewed within the banner or expanded to full screen, creating a fluid and immersive experience. Research has shown that this unit has high interaction rates and is uniquely effective at driving brand awareness and building brand loyalty.
Of course, there is such a thing as going overboard, and brands must be careful not to annoy their viewers. There’s a fine line between engaging and just plain distracting. But by partnering with ad technology vendors that have thoroughly vetted sensory marketing features and have thoughtfully tested their mobile products to ensure a positive user experience, brands can make an important shift in their mobile thinking to deeply leverage the medium’s unique attributes.