After decades of criticism, it seems as though Pine and Gilmore’s theory on Experience Economy is proving to be ever so effective across all industry sectors.

Sensory Marketing was first explored in the early 70’s and was initially defined the Experiential Industry, in which people would associate emotional experiences with both products and services; and as a result, be willing to spend a substantial portion of their income on experiencing something more than what lies in a shopping bag. Such ideas have been criticized, especially by those in the leisure, hospitality and tourism sectors, arguing that service marketing has long toyed with the concept of charging customers for the feelings that they experience.

This seems like a rather obvious statement. We all identify with the feeling of returning to work on Monday morning after a delightful holiday, bringing nothing back but a nice tan and the magnificent memories of sitting by the pool with a cocktail in hand. So where does our money go? We pay for the anticipation, the experience, and for the long-lasting memories of the holiday. But other than a kitschy and overpriced fridge magnet we return empty-handed.

But, who is to say that the sensory marketing is limited to the service sector alone? Take American clothing brand Abercrombie&Fitch for instance. Their repertoire rarely extends past the ordinary: polo shirts, jeans, sweaters, etc. All of which, as far as I’m concerned, are of the same quality as other competitor brands.
Yet, their stores are permanently jam-packed and remain the number one destination for any tourist passing through Miami.

Perhaps, it has to do with the ripped male models that greet you at the front of the store? Or the Barbie-like shop attendants? Maybe, the disco lights orthe blasting music? Or is it the overpowering scent of A&F “Fierce” male cologne? I think so. Passing the threshold of the door is like emerging into a Narnia fantasy, only a little louder and with better looking people. So, regardless of whether you spend every penny you own, buy a couple of items, or come out with absolutely nothing…. One thing is certain: The experience of going to an Abercrombie & Fitch’s storeis worth it.

This notion of sensory marketing is now metamorphosing into a trend across the fashion, beauty and F&B industry,and is even reaching the digital realm. Now we are calling it ‘Multi-Sensory Marketing’.As author Martin Lindstorm explains in his work ‘Brand Sense’, to effectively employ a sensory marketing tactic, the more senses are engaged, the stronger the customer engagement and consequently, the more significant the brand image in the consumers’ minds.

Many Brands have explored sensory marketing by developing smell to sell campaigns, like Dominos Brazil with pizza aroma DVD’s or Dunkin’ Donuts in South Korea, who installed coffee scented spray systems on buses, prompted by their radio jingle, all which ingeniously create symbiosis between the smell and the brand. Guinness beer has consulted with food architects Bompas & Parr, taking this concept of multi-sensory marketing to a whole new level. At Guinness Storehouse in Dublin visitors learn about the art of brewery by crafting the perfect pint, cooking recipes and undergoing the connoisseur bar experience.

Heinz Beanz Gets it Right

Likewise, Heinz Beanz have used multi-sensory marketing to enhance the eating experience with their line of Flavour Experience Beanz range by creating uniquely designed bowls made out of wood, resin, wax and metal. The Cheddar Cheese edition comes in a wax bowl that resembles a round of cheese, whereas the Curry edition,with embedded music technology in the handle of the spoon, literally plays Punjabi music in your mouth, inaudible to anyone in the outside.

Multi-sensory marketing won‘t necessarily push the button for purchase in the consumer‘s brain. However, it will help direct new attention to a brand in an era when mono- and duo-sensorial communication is limited.