Sensory Marketing

Chia‐Pin (Simon) Yu (Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




Yu, C.(S). (2011), "Sensory Marketing", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 568-570.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Traditional marketing is concerned with the production and consumption of firms and individuals. However, this particular theme of study may not well‐explain current changes in marketing practices, and is no longer effective for use in modern societies. A decade ago, Pine and Gilmore (1999) suggested the simple but useful idea that customers consume “experience” rather than goods or services. This idea provides a new perspective to explain successful business practices and changes the marketing paradigm from being based in goods and services to an experience‐based system. Thus, numerous studies focus on customer experiences from the perspectives of both firms and individuals. However, a fundamental question has yet to be understood in a comprehensive manner: how is consumer experience constructed?

Sensory Marketing, written by Dr Bertil Hutten, Niklas Broweus, and Marcus Van Dijk, provides a new direction for understanding how human senses construct an individual's experiences; conversely, it suggests strategies on how a firm distinguishes and develops its own identity and unique products and branding through the involvement of human senses. Unlike mainstream marketing study, their work puts the five senses front and center, highlighting the importance of engaging each sense when marketing to customers. The five senses, smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound have a tremendous impact on how consumers purchase and experience products/services/brands; however, academics and practitioners have long overlooked their significance in marketing. Innovatively, Sensory Marketing demonstrates how the five human senses contribute to a firm's strategic marketing. Furthermore, it suggests that a firm should consider the five human senses a starting point in practice, subsequently offering customers a supreme experience.

The expertise of the book's three authors is exhibited by their knowledge of sensory marketing and professional backgrounds in both academics and industry. Dr Bertil Hulten is an associate professor at the Baltic Business School (BBS) of the University of Kalmar, Sweden, with research interests spanning sensory marketing, human sense, and branding. Mr. Niklas Broweus and Mr. Marcus Van Dijk both hold MSc. degrees in Business Administration from the Baltic Business School (BBS), University of Kalmar, Sweden, and currently work as marketing consultants and speakers. Their earlier thesis focused on how a firm gets closer to customers by way of using the five human senses in marketing. Taking this concept a step further, Sensory Marketing received the prestigious Swedish award “Marketing Book of the Year 2008” from the Swedish Marketing Federation. This was due in no small part to the book being extraordinarily readable, despite it being written by professionals and derived from their research and articles. Indeed, it systematically describes sensory experiences and their effects on consumer behavior via plentiful concise examples. In turn, the target group for this book is rather broad, with marketing scholars, practitioners, students, and the general public all being able to benefit from this new frontier in marketing strategy.

Sensory marketing is an emerging paradigm that can enhance existing marketing literature. This pioneering book offers a theoretical, as well as a practical, understanding of sensory marketing. Additionally, it integrates new concepts and theories with the practices from firms and organizations. To accomplish its goal, the book comprises eight chapters. The first chapter provides a framework for sensory marketing by presenting sensory marketing in practice and theory. This framework is compared with mass and relationship marketing. The authors argue that traditional marketing approaches have their individual limitations in explaining the current business landscape. Therefore, new strategies, namely sensorial strategies (smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound strategies), connecting firms and customers are needed. Broweus, Marcus, and Van Dijk suggest that firms' sensory marketing should emphasize the five human senses, and that great consideration should be given to how sensory experiences are co‐created from firms and individuals. Chapter 2 presents the changing forces of contemporary societies. Basically, the contents discuss the significance of aesthetics, emotions, and experiences for sensory marketing.

Chapters 3‐7 introduce the five human senses respectively and present intensive analyses and discussions on how firms apply appropriate sensorial strategies. Each chapter begins with an introduction on its respective sense, continues with what the sense affects the perspective of firms and individuals, and ends with suggested strategies and examples. Chapter 3 argues the importance of scents and presents how an experience through olfaction can be accomplished. Different sense expressions facilitate smell experiences and are associated with particular meanings. Hotel Park Hyatt Vendome, in France, is given as an example of a brand utilizing smell experience. Chapter 4 focuses on the sense of sound and its meaning for both firms and individuals, describing how a sound experience is constructed through different sound expressions. Saab is given as an example of a brand that uses the experience of audition. Chapter 5 discusses the importance of a firm's “genetic code” in clarifying its identity as a brand. Discussion on different sense expressions in visualizing a brand and facilitating a sight‐based experience is presented. The authors use the US fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch as an example of a brand demonstrating a sight experience. Chapter 6 deals with the sense of taste and its meaning in marketing. Highlighted are different sense expressions in creating a taste experience and how a taste experience is applied in sensory marketing. The British retailer chain Hotel Chocolat is used to explain the brand's use of taste experience. Chapter 7 begins with a discussion on the importance of physical and psychological interaction between firms and individuals. Additionally, the importance of accessibility and digital technology for interaction with a brand is touched upon. The sensorial touch strategy of Volvo is presented as an example of a brand using a touch experience. The final chapter summarizes key concepts and thoughts about sensory marketing. It concludes with important theoretical insights and actionable ideas with regards to the brand as a sensory experience. Their sensory marketing framework, which covers brand souls, sensors, sensations, and sense experiences, can be used as a guideline for the strategic marketing plan of any firm. Quite, the “brand soul” concept illustrates a new perspective of branding. At the end of this chapter, the US grocery retailer Whole Foods is used to illustrate a supreme sensory experience.

Further Reading

Pine, B.J. and Gilmore, J.H. (1999), The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

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