Utilizing the 5 Senses to Make Customers Feel Comfortable

using the senses in marketing

Not all marketing research comes from business scientists. When a customer walks into your store, a neuroscientist would identify the millions of interactions starting with sensory nerve cell receptors that transmit data to the brain. The brain then interprets the information, filtering through its knowledge, emotions and life experience to create a perception. Sensory marketing, a hybrid of neuroscience and marketing research, analyses the conversion from sense to perception, identifying the ways to use senses to make a sale. Here’s a scientific look at how our senses can drive sales.

Sight

We come from a long line of hunters and gatherers. Compared to other top predators, which depend largely on a sense of smell, humans depend on sight. Most of our brain is used to interpret sensory input of sight, either perceiving safety or identifying faces. The limbic system governs deep-seated responses like fear and safety. Before customers can be willing to make a purchase, they need to feel safe. Installing security cameras, cleaning cluttered spaces and approaching customers with a friendly face will put the limbic responses at ease, which can lead to more impulse purchases.

Hearing

The link between sound and its perception is one of the most complex of the five senses. The shape of air pushed through our mouths is detected by specialized nerve cells in the ear, which the brain translates into language with all of the subtleties and nuances that come with it. Hearing is where the sales pitch is perceived. According to Aristotle, these sound waves must elicit three reactions to be persuasive:

  • Ethos: Ethical
  • Logos: Logical
  • Pathos: Emotional

Make certain that all of your pitches have these components.

Touch

One of the reasons that you have a brick-and-mortar store over an online shop is that you want your customers to be able to touch the products. Compared to pictorial representations where a customer can only rely on the sense of sight, real interaction lets them use touch and, to a lesser degree, smell. This ability to touch a product leads to a significantly higher rate of purchase. Whenever feasible, encourage customers to touch, manipulate and spatially examine the products to better be able to make the sale.

Taste

The sense of taste is a difficult one to separate out because it is so closely linked to the sense of smell, which is a very powerful primer for emotions. If a person holds his nose, thus removing the sense of smell, and tastes food, he generally will not be able to differentiate much more than salty, sweet or bitter. For a marketer to truly engage the sense of taste, you will need to develop an experiential marketing framework. To do so, have something for customers to put into their mouths that matches the feel of the other senses. This will go a long way to creating a multi-sensual shopping experience for your customer.

Smell

In contrast, smell is almost directly linked to our emotions. The smell of comfort foods cooking brings us back to childhood happiness and carefree times. Research shows that customers will spend more time in a store if it smells good. Of course, these are filtered through out memories and cultures, so make sure to tailor the scent of your store the proper demographic.


With a Bachelors in Physics and a MBA, Paul Reyes-Fournier worked in aerospace and education but his passion to do something good for the world led him to a career in the non-profit sector where he has served as the CFO of a multi-million dollar rehab agency. Paul has lobbied Congress for funds to help homeless individuals and served on the BOD for social service organizations. He is a published author, co-author of CoupleDumb.com, and has written for JG Wentworth, Walmart, and LifeLock.