Sensory Marketing: Activate Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch and Taste

Hamilton Hamilton

Brands are constantly searching for ways to resonate deeply with their consumers. Sensory event marketing is one approach currently gaining traction, which goes far beyond traditional marketing by actively engaging all five senses. This guide clarifies the concept of the five marketing senses.

What is sensory marketing?

Sensory marketing, also known as sensory branding, is a distinct form of marketing that aims to activate all five senses – touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. The objective involves creating a profound emotional connection with consumers, heightening and intensifying brand perceptions. Sensory marketing engages multiple senses simultaneously and establishes many pathways for immersive and memorable audience engagement, building loyalties.

How does sensory marketing work?

Research on embodied cognition suggests that bodily sensations subconsciously affect decision-making. In other words, our senses can unconsciously influence our thoughts and actions. The power of sensory marketing lies in layering sensory activations, creating an immersive experience that resonates strongly with the audience and provides multiple opportunities for connection. 

How to Engage the Five Senses in Marketing

Let's explore ways to engage each of the five senses. 

  1. Taste: The sense of taste includes five basic qualities – bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and umami or savory. If you sell food or beverages, create a rich experience around sampling products to engage your customers' senses. If your business does not involve food or beverages directly, consider event catering beyond providing sustenance. Leverage the qualities of the refreshments to build a positive association with your brand. 
  2. Sight: Logos, fonts, colors, and images take center stage as sight remains the most stimulated sense in marketing. The challenge lies in capturing visual attention amidst the crowded landscape. To make your brand stand out, showcase its unique attributes and integrate the visual experience with other senses to keep consumers engaged.
  3. Touch: A hands-on event experience lets your audience personally connect with your brand. Hand- and body-activated interactive elements can inspire event attendees to join in, elevating them from observers to participants.  
  4. Smell: The olfactory sense, often overlooked, profoundly impacts memory and emotions. Consider creating a signature scent or leveraging scents associated with positive experiences to leave a lasting impression on your audience. 
  5. Hearing: Auditory elements, from advertisements to background music to sound experiences, play a pivotal role in marketing. Use music and acoustic elements to regulate the audience's emotions at events. Varying tempo, volume, and pitch can also affect brand perception. For instance, if you want to energize your audience, you would likely create a vastly different auditory experience than if you were looking to calm or destress your audience. 

Sensory Marketing with Hamilton

Sensory marketing allows brands to transcend the conventional, expected forms of event marketing, offering a gateway to creating immersive, memorable, and emotionally charged brand experiences. Strategically leveraging the five senses can create lasting brand connections that drive growth. As the event marketing landscape evolves, embracing the power of a sensory experience will help your brand stand apart from the crowd. 

If you find sensory marketing appealing but overwhelming, Hamilton is here to help you tackle it with ease. We have assisted various brands in realizing their vision by creating sensory activations.

For our own booth at EXHIBITORLIVE 2023, we offered alcohol-free cocktails, a unique mirrored structure, a hands-on engagement, a signature scent, and a live electric string trio who performed in the exhibit. For Zimmer Biomet's exhibit at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting (AAOS) 2023, we created three private labs for attending surgeons to participate in hands-on demos of the latest technology. Cornerstone Building Brand partnered with us for the International Builders' Show (IBS) 2023 to give attendees an experience they will never forget. In addition to featuring customer solutions, displaying brands and products, and creating an environment effective for engaging interactions, Cornerstone hosted a happy hour with fully catered wine and beer bars alongside live performances from country music's rising stars. All of these success stories highlight the unique ways in which we align the sensory elements with the brand identity to enhance the customer experience and solidify loyal customer relationships built on emotion and trust. 

Hamilton is an event marketing agency with a 75-year legacy in creating immersive brand experiences for companies throughout North America and worldwide. We design, produce, and execute integrated experiences – events, environments, exhibits, and digital solutions – that drive meaningful connections between your brand and your audience. 

To infuse your next event with sensory marketing, contact us today!