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Sensory Neuromarketing: The power of senses in marketing

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Sensory Neuromarketing, let's discover our 5 senses

Have you ever wondered how the senses are exploited by neuromarketing experts to understand consumer choices and preferences?

In this article, we try to understand what is sensory Neuromarketing and how this can influence purchasing behavior.

Our five basic senses are sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

The sensing organs associated with each sense send information to the brain to help us understand and perceive what is around us. 

  • Sight is the sense of perception of visual stimuli.
  • Hearing is the sense in charge of capturing the sounds that come from outside the human body and transmitting them.
  • Taste is the sense that gives indications on the taste of what we eat and drink distinguishing bitterness, sweetness, sapidity and acidity.
  • Smell is the sense assigned to the perception of odorous stimuli.
  • Finally, touch allows the recognition of some physical characteristics of objects (hardness, shape).

Sensory Neuromarketing: selling through the senses

When we talk about Sensory Neuromarketing, it means that sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch are solicited within a store in order to arouse emotions that potentially can then be converted into purchase.

An emotional marketing, neuromarketing, born from the idea that the consumer does not always follow a rational cognitive process to reach the final decision of purchase.

There are many chains and brands that use the 5 senses to influence a customer’s shopping experience.

The music, the perfumes, the colors can improve the time of stay inside a store and thus increase the sales.

But let’s take a few examples.

The music broadcast in the cafeterias of the well-known Starbucks chain is designed and released by Hearmusic and creates an intimate and relaxing environment.

Not surprisingly, many of their customers become “habitual” with a stay sometimes even of hours (and consequently more purchases), as the recreated environment is ideal for studying, working or reading a good book.

It is therefore a strategy that allows the brand to maintain a more intimate contact with its customers.

Olfactory Neuromarketing

Among all the senses, smell is undoubtedly the one with deeper roots.

Why? Simple, its receptors in the nose activate the limbic system and control emotions, memories and sense of well-being.

You probably happen to smell the food before eating it, to cover up bad smells with dedicated perfumes and so on.

So, how can you use perfume for your store?

You can take inspiration from famous companies, such as British Airways.

The company spreads a fragrance of herbs in its terminals, to give travelers the feeling of being in an open and quiet place instead of crowded.

There are also clothing chains that use cotton essences to influence sales.

Also, let’s talk briefly about the Lidl grocery stores.

The recently opened shops have placed the bakery just after the entrance, next to fruits and vegetables.

Try to think about the reason for this decision?

Sensory Neuromarketing: sight alone is not enough

I’ll tell you a secret.

Sight is the least appropriate way to generate interest and to push us to buy.

Yep, most people aren’t addicted to sparkling images and colors.

Don’t you believe it? Try looking at the photo above for a few seconds and then close your eyes.

Now I ask you: how many brands do you remember seeing?

I can assure you that over 90% of people say they only remember one.

All this therefore makes us understand that basing our activity exclusively on the visual aspect would be a big mistake.

In advertising, visual stimulation alone is too ineffective.

This is why it is necessary to exploit and put together the other senses as well.

A Sensory Neuromarketing experiment

Neuromarketing expert Martin Lindstrom and neuroscientist Gemma Calvert conducted a series of experiments on volunteers undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fRMI).

One of the experiments was to show the image of a glass of frozen Coca-Cola.

After that, they submitted to the volunteers olfactory fragrances always associated with Coca Cola.

Later they showed together the images and fragrances.

Result: in general, the volunteers expressed a statistically better judgment than the single image or fragrance.

This means that images and perfumes worked much better together.

The reason is that when perfume and image are well connected to each other, we can obtain the brand’s memory for a much longer time than the single image of the brand itself.

fMRI results were even more surprising.

The smell of a product enabled sight-like emotions to be activated in the brain, allowing the volunteer to immediately imagine the logo of the brand.

Why? Because they’re related to mirror neurons, which we’ve talked about extensively here.


We have seen how the focus on sensations has transformed sales from distributive to creative.

We can therefore say that it is no longer a question of selling products, but real consumer experiences.

However, remember that Sensory Neuromarketing is not only seen or smelled, but also heard and touched, but this, I will talk about in a future article.

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