Marketers are missing a trick by not opening their minds to opportunities afforded by unlocking sensory power from tangible brand assets, according to an industry figure.

Andy Wardlaw, marketing & insights director at MMR Research, argues that distracted consumers are making more fast, intuitive and emotion-based decisions (commonly referred to as System 1), “yet very few of us are embracing the power of the human senses as a direct response”.

Writing for WARC, where he summarises a presentation given at MMR’s BE THE CHANGE conference platform, Wardlaw offers a definition of sensory branding: stronger cohesion between how a brand is thought by the consumer, and then felt – physically – across the packaging and product experience.

“Equity that is felt in this way reaches out to distracted and sceptical consumers without communication being known to have taken place,” he writes. (For more, read the full article: Time for brands to reach out to the human senses.)

The advantages of such an approach are threefold, he suggests: the senses work faster, they work together and they “shift reality”.

In MMR’s research, square structures have been shown to shift the perceived intensity of orange juice, for example, while thicker structures shift perceived viscosity.

“This is an area that brands have barely started to explore but it is one that could make meaningful impacts on consumer engagement,” Wardlaw maintains.

He puts forward five facets of sensory branding that marketers can consider, including such ‘brand body language’.

Others are:
  • ‘equity that’s felt’, such as Galaxy Milk Chocolate, which has “engineered a proposition that physically embeds the brand promise around texture”;
  • ‘being meaningfully distinctive’, as in the case of a pasta brand whose roughened, mottled and slightly flattened spaghetti signals made the traditional way in cutting machines;
  • ‘sensory signature’, or the acquisition of a unique set of sensory characteristics that can enhance a brand promise;
  • ‘measured authenticity’, where what is promised is absolutely delivered.
Wardlaw’s message is that sensory science can address many of the key issues around communication effectiveness and brand authenticity, while sensory branding can find new ways to communicate vital equities below conscious awareness.

Sourced from WARC