ArticlePDF Available

Sensory marketing: The multi-sensory brand-experience concept

Authors:

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present the multi-sensory brand-experience concept in relation to the human mind and senses. It also seeks to propose a sensory marketing (SM) model of the multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis. Design/methodology/approach: This paper applies exploratory and explanatory approaches to investigating the multi-sensory brand-experience concept within the context of discovery. The qualitative study is built on primary and secondary data sources, including personal interviews with experts and managers. Findings: The multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis suggests that firms should apply sensorial strategies and three explanatory levels within an SM model. It allows firms through means as sensors, sensations, and sensory expressions to differentiate and position a brand in the human mind as image. Research limitations/implications: A theoretical implication is that the multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis emphasizes the significance of the human mind and senses in value-generating processes. Another theoretical implication is that the hypothesis illustrates the shortcomings of the transaction and relationship marketing models in considering the multi-sensory brand-experience concept. It is worth conducting additional research on the multi-sensory interplay between the human senses in value-generating processes. Practical implications: The findings offer additional insights to managers on the multi-sensory brand-experience concept. This research opens up opportunities for managers to identify emotional/psychological linkages in differentiating, distinguishing and positioning a brand as an image in the human mind. Originality/value: The main contribution of this research lies in developing the multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis within a SM model. It fills a major gap in the marketing literature and research in stressing the need to rethink conventional marketing models.
Sensory marketing:
the multi-sensory
brand-experience concept
Bertil Hulte
´n
Kalmar University, Kalmar, Sweden
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the multi-sensory brand-experience concept in
relation to the human mind and senses. It also seeks to propose a sensory marketing (SM) model of the
multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper applies exploratory and explanatory approaches to
investigating the multi-sensory brand-experience concept within the context of discovery. The
qualitative study is built on primary and secondary data sources, including personal interviews with
experts and managers.
Findings The multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis suggests that firms should apply sensorial
strategies and three explanatory levels within an SM model. It allows firms through means as sensors,
sensations, and sensory expressions to differentiate and position a brand in the human mind as image.
Research limitations/implications – A theoretical implication is that the multi-sensory
brand-experience hypothesis emphasizes the significance of the human mind and senses in
value-generating processes. Another theoretical implication is that the hypothesis illustrates the
shortcomings of the transaction and relationship marketing models in considering the multi-sensory
brand-experience concept. It is worth conducting additional research on the multi-sensory interplay
between the human senses in value-generating processes.
Practical implications – The findings offer additional insights to managers on the multi-sensory
brand-experience concept. This research opens up opportunities for managers to identify
emotional/psychological linkages in differentiating, distinguishing and positioning a brand as an image
in the human mind.
Originality/value The main contribution of this research lies in developing the multi-sensory
brand-experience hypothesis within a SM model. It fills a major gap in the marketing literature and
research in stressing the need to rethink conventional marketing models.
Keywords Sensory perception, Brands, Marketing models
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
In the current marketing and management literature, a service logic emphasizes
customers as co-producers of service processes (Eiglier and Langeard, 1976; Gro
¨nroos,
1982) and creators of value for themselves, according to the value-in-use notion
(Woodruff and Gardial, 1996; Normann, 2001; Vargo and Lusch, 2004). Among
researchers, services are also seen as a form of value creation and not merely as an
activity (Edvardsson et al., 2005). Moreover, a service logic is based on the notion that
customers use all types of resources, including goods and services, as services give them
value and service processes are of an interactive character in supporting
value-generating processes (Gro
¨nroos and Ravald, 2009).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0955-534X.htm
EBR
23,3
256
Received October 2009
Revised December 2009
Accepted March 2010
European Business Review
Vol. 23 No. 3, 2011
pp. 256-273
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
0955-534X
DOI 10.1108/09555341111130245
In pursuing a service perspective, firms should be seen as value facilitators, providing
different kinds of resources to customer consumption, and value-generating processes.
It has been suggested that a firm should use its interactions with customers in
influencing the value creation processes (Gro
¨nroos, 2006). In these processes, different
interactions impact on the nature and types of value that customers perceive in terms
of interactive, relativistic, preferential, or experience values, as well as self-oriented or
other-oriented values (Holbrook, 1999). Furthermore, in terms of service logic, a firm
should support customers in their daily activities and processes by providing goods,
services, hidden services, information, and so on, as long as this generates value to
customers (Gro
¨nroos, 2008).
In this study, it is assumed that the value of service, as a brand image, emerges when
interactions occur through the customer’s sensory experiences in the value-generating
processes. This image is based on how customers perceive and experience service and
the process in reality. The customer’s feelings and thoughts about the service, including
both goods- and service components, as well as other elements, contribute to an image in
the customer’s mind that is synonymous with the brand (Gro
¨nroos, 2008). This is in
accordance with the notion of experiential marketing from Holbrook and Hirschmann
(1982) and Schmitt (1999), in which contexts, aesthetics, emotions, and symbolic aspects
of customer experiences are significant.
The aim of this paper is to present and discuss the multi-sensory brand-experience
concept in relation to the human mind and senses smell, sound, sight, taste, and
touch in generating customer value, experiences, and image. Drawing on both theories
relating to branding and experiences, as well as value creation and the human senses, the
paper presents the multi-sensory brand-experience concept. I, then discuss and illustrate
empirically the multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis within a sensory marketing
SM model.
I have structured the article in the following way: first, I present the theoretical basis
and conceptualizations of branding, experiences, and value creation in relation to the
five human senses. Second, I discuss the chosen methodology in applying exploratory
and explanatory approaches in a qualitative study. Third, I present the multi-sensory
brand-experience hypothesis within a SM model and context. Finally, I discuss the
contribution of the article together with the theoretical and managerial implications, the
limitations of the study and future research opportunities.
Branding and experiences
In the branding literature, the concept of brand identity is defined as a unique set of
brand associations that a firm can create or maintain. It may involve a value-proposition
with functional, emotional or self-expressive benefits. It does not matter whether the
associations are tangible or emotional/symbolic or both (Anselm and Kostelijk, 2008).
The emotional linkage between brand and consumer has been proposed as important in
building strong brands. It has also been confirmed in research that consumers look for
and buy emotional experiences around what has been bought and no longer buy
products and services alone (Brembeck and Ekstro
¨m, 2004; Ratneshwar and Mick, 2005).
In the academic debate on emotional branding, there seems to be a tendency to focus
more on tangibles (product brands) than intangibles (services brands). However,
emotional branding seems more obvious in the context of services or intangibles, with
their intimate nature and where the customer is often more personally involved
Sensory
marketing
257
(Pullman and Gross, 2004). Most services marketers have ignored this issue (Morrison
and Crane, 2007), despite the fact that the emotional experience associated with a
services brand seems to be as important as the service itself (Crane et al., 2007). In the
services marketing literature, a number of theorists propose that, in order to maintain
customer loyalty to a services brand, it should be transformed from a services product
into an experience product (Pullman and Gross, 2004).
Furthermore, the environmental context in which the service encounter takes place is
significant in creating emotional connections. This includes the physical and relational
characteristics of the setting in which the service is consumed, as well as the elements
with which the customer interacts in the setting (Gupta and Vajic, 1999). In the physical
context, stimuli appear to be generated by the sights, sounds, textures, and smells of the
environment and, in the relational context, stimuli emanate from people and their
behavior (Carbone and Haeckel, 1994).
In the marketing literature, the concepts of customer experience and customer
experience management are increasingly gaining attention. Pine and Gilmore (1999)
point out the significance of the customer in understanding what an experience is all
about. An experience is said to occur when a firm intentionally constructs one, in order to
engage customers. However, Klaus and Maklan (2007) claim that a firm has no choice
as to whether or not to be connected to customer experiences. All communication,
consumption experiences, and customer contacts inevitably create an experience in the
customer’s mind (Homburg et al., 2005).
The experiential perspective of consumption experiences originates from Holbrook
and Hirschmann (1982) and Hirschmann and Holbrook (1982). Below is a definition of
experience from Holbrook (1999, pp. 8-9):
Finally, by experience, I mean that consumer value resides not in the product purchased, not
in the brand chosen, not in the object possessed, but rather in the consumption experience(s)
derived therefrom [...] In essence, the argument in this direction boils down to the proposition
that all products provide services in their capacity to create need- or want-satisfying
experiences [...] In this sense, all marketing is “services marketing.” This places the role of
experience at a central position in the creation of consumer value.
Especially, in experiential consumption research, emotions and contextual, symbolic and
non-utilitarian aspects of consumption (Arnould and Thompson, 2005) are emphasized.
In this study, a sensory experience is defined as an individual’s perception of goods or
services or other elements in a service process as an image that challenges the human
mind and senses. Brakus et al. (2009) distinguish between product experiences,
shopping, and service experiences, as well as consumption experiences, concluding that
all such experiences impact directly or indirectly on consumers. Schmitt (1999) suggests
acting, feeling, relating, sensing, and thinking as customer experiences.
In the brand-management domain, little attention has been paid to concepts such as
customer value and experiences, in terms of understanding the creation of a brand as an
image (Payne et al., 2009). Yet, de Chernatony et al. (2006) discuss the customer
experience as central, not only for services, but also for brands. Brand relationships and
customer experiences are also essential research areas for further development of the
domain (Keller and Lehmann, 2006), and both branding and brand equity “ seem ripe for
revision” (Arnould et al., 2006). In this research, the significance of the five human senses
in creating the multi-sensory brand-experience is related to customer value, experiences,
and brand as image.
EBR
23,3
258
Value creation and human senses
The service logic proposes that a supplier should start with the customer’s value
creation processes and try to analyze what process the supplier has the capability to
support. The value-in-use notion (Woodruff and Gardial, 1996; Normann, 2001;
Gro
¨nroos, 2006) suggests that value for customers is created when they use products,
goods or services. Gummesson (1998, p. 247) argues that “value creation is only possible
when a good or a service is consumed”.
It seems that this notion of value creation is dominant, stating that value is created for
customers “in their value-creating processes” on a daily basis (Gro
¨nroos, 2006).
Gro
¨nroos (2008) makes a further distinction, stating that customers are value-creators,
and suppliers are value facilitators developing value propositions. In this regard,
customers are seen as “ sole-creators” of value, and suppliers create the resources, in
order to let the customer’s create value on their own, in their value-generating processes
(Gro
¨nroos, 2008).
In this study, the multi-sensory brand-experience is related to the five human senses,
so often neglected in the marketing literature, despite their importance in generating
customer value, sensory experiences, and the brand as an image. Academic research has
shown that different sensory impressions impact consumer behavior and perceptions of
goods and services. Empirical studies relating to sight impressions have been discussed
by, for instance, Orth and Malkewitz (2008) and Smith and Burns (1996). The sense of
sight is the most powerful one for discovering changes and differences in the
environment and is the most common sense in perceiving goods or services.
Impressions of sound have been analyzed empirically by Garlin and Owen (2006),
Sweeney and Wyber (2002). The sense of sound is linked to emotions and feelings and
the sense impacts brand experiences and interpretations. Impressions of smell have been
discussed by Goldkuhl and Styfve
´n (2007) and Fiore et al. (2000). The sense of smell is
related to pleasure and well-being and is closely connected to emotions and memories.
Taste impressions have been analyzed empirically by Biedekarken and Henneberg
(2006) and Klosse et al. (2004). The sense of taste is the most distinct emotional sense and
often interacts with other senses. Finally, touch impressions have been discussed by
Peck and Wiggins (2006) and Citrin et al. (2003), among others. The sense of touch is the
tactile one, related to information and feelings about a product through physical and
psychological interactions.
A multi-sensory brand-experience takes place when more than one of the five senses
contributes to the perception of sensory experiences (Hulte
´net al., 2009). The following is a
definition of a multi-sensory brand experience: a multi-sensory brand-experiencesupports
individual value creation and refers to how individuals react when a firm interacts, and
supports their purchase and consumption processes through the involvement of the five
human senses in generating customer value, experiences, and brand as image.
In studying sensory, emotional, and cognitive processes of the human brain, two
empirical studies show that vision, for example, can interact with such senses as
hearing, touch, and olfaction (Thesen et al., 2004). Another study has demonstrated
that various techniques identify multisensory convergence zones in the human brain,
indicating that “[...] one sense can be affected by relations with other senses”
(Driver and Noesselt, 2008).
The sensory, emotional, and cognitive processes of the human brain are also related
to neuromarketing, an emerging research field explaining and enhancing our
Sensory
marketing
259
understanding of consumer behavior, for instance, how different brain areas are
involved in advertising (Fugate, 2007; Plassman et al., 2007).
Methodology
In the presented research, the context of discovery is appropriate, in that the hypothesis
concerning the multi-sensory brand experience and subsequent SM model lays the
ground for deductive generalizations (Hunt, 2002). For this reason, the paper applies an
explorative, as well as an explanatory approach in investigating the multi-sensory
brand-experience concept. The combination of two approaches has proven a fruitful way
to explore and explain this research domain.
Adopting an explorative approach in the first stage of the research facilitated an
investigation of a research domain that had been relatively unexplored. The important
factors were essentially unknown and could not be defined precisely, resulting in the
research question: at the beginning of the twenty-first century, why are firms once again
focusing on the human senses in marketing? In the second stage of the research, an
explanatory approach was adopted in relation to the research question. As a scientific
answer explanations, should often be connected to “ why” questions. It is clear that an
explanatory approach offers opportunities to develop a model that can explain a current
phenomenon in a scientific way (Hunt, 2002, p. 86).
In both the exploratory and explanatory stages of the present work, the research
process was of an iterative character, allowing the researcher to work back and forth
between data and theory. In the exploratory stage, it was not possible to define exactly
what concepts to look for in advance. No evidence or support was provided by
transaction marketing (TM), relationship marketing (RM) or indeed any other marketing
theories, to explain the concept of multi-sensory brand-experience. The alternative was
to search for psychological and sociological theories that enabled an investigation of
unconventional aspects of marketing. In this research, the combination of field data
collection and analysis, together with theoretical conceptualizations, was appropriate
for developing a model that could explain the multi-sensory brand-experience concept.
The qualitative study is built on a number of primary and secondary information
sources. In the explorative stage, secondary data was collected from sources such as
articles, books, business magazines, reports and other sources fromlibraries, databases or
web sites. A great deal of information was found, but the significance of the five human
senses for the multi-sensory brand-experience concept was conspicuously absent. Thisled
to the formulation of the research question. In the explanatory stage, primary data was
collected, includingin-depth, open-ended, and semi-structuredinterviews with expertsand
managers, in such American and European companies and organizations as Abercrombie
& Fitch, Apollo, Gina Tricot, ICA Ahold, Ice Hotel, Lindex, Saab Automobile,
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Starbucks, Volvo Car, Whole Foods, and Culinary Arts and
Meal Science at Orebro University, among others. A judgment sampling was chosen,
based on the respondent’s practical experiences of the multi-sensory brand-experience
concept. A questionnaire was prepared before each interview, with unstructured
responses, and this questionnaire was reworked and augmented as the study progressed.
The overall aim of the study structure was to explain the multi-sensory
brand-experience concept in a SM model and context. An additional objective was
to clarify and illustrate the key explanatory levels of how a firm might facilitate
the multi-sensory brand-experience. These levels govern the empirical illustrations
EBR
23,3
260
of the study. The multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis, as well as the
interpretation and concluding discussions, have been organized accordingly.
Theoretical assumptions
When it comes to the theoretical framework, it is essential to recognize the impact on
customer value of changing value systems in contemporary society, experiences, and the
brand as an image. The culture and zeitgeist of society is often seen as contradictory and
paradoxical in its content and meaning (Powell, 1998). It consists of both rational and
emotional elements, as well as attributes like creativity, intuition, speculation,
spontaneity, and feelings (Brown, 1993).
The ongoing value shift from a collectivist view to a more individualist view of
everyday life emphasizes self-expression and quality of life (Firat and Schultz, 1997).
Research has shown that generations born in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s have
questioned modern values and replaced them with post-modern values in everyday
and working life (Inglehart, 1997; Howard and Mason, 2001).
The assumption made in this paper is that, as a lifestyle, individualization expresses
the culture and zeitgeist of contemporary society through three personal driving forces.
The first one, image building, is linked to the consumption of brands and experiences,
which give individuals an opportunity to create their own unique identity and image.
As long as consumption is oriented towards symbolic content and meaning,
it corresponds to the production of images of the self (Firat and Venkatesh, 1995).
The second one, self-fulfillment, is linked to quality of life and welfare, in terms of
changing consumption patterns. The ongoing shift to more qualified consumption is
evident in services associated with culture, entertainment, health, medical care,
education, or recreation. The transition from low-value to high-value service activities
emphasizes the importance of the personal value of the experience, and service-related
time use emphasizes the self and self-fulfillment (Gershuny, 2000).
The third one, sensory experience, is linked to an individual’s striving for identity and
image, as well as for self-fulfillment. In this regard, individualization is dependent on
cognitive, emotional and value-based elements, which explain why most individuals should
be seen as active, participative, and creative actors. This means that goods or services, not
only in a physical or functional sense, but also in an emotional sense, should conform to an
individual’s personal and social-life context (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2000).
In presenting the multi-sensory brand-experience concept, the identification of
individualization as lifestyle is crucial. This focuses on the significance of the human
mind and senses, and how they are applied in marketing-management practice. The
process also rises following question: how is it possible for a company to delve deeper
into the customer’s mind and treat the customer in a more personal way through
differentiating and expressing a brand? This question is closely related to theories on
TM and RM and some of the key characteristics are summarized in Table I.
Since the 1950s, marketing models covering the marketing process for consumers,
business, non-profit, goods, or services have been developed (Christopher et al., 1991).
In terms of TM and the marketing mix, the TM-model is based on microeconomic
theory and behavioral theory of the firm, from an exchange perspective. The model is
based on goods logic, where the individual is seen as a consumer with average needs
in a mass-market context, in which advertising is a major tool in appealing
to the market (Gro
¨nroos, 2000). The model is built around acquiring customers,
Sensory
marketing
261
short-term exchanges, and single transactions between an active seller and a passive
buyer (Brodie et al., 1997).
The RM-model is more sophisticated, in terms of RM based on interaction and
network theories and social exchange theories. The model modifies the shortcomings
and simplicity of the TM-model, by focusing on interactions, networks, and
relationships between an active and adaptive seller and buyer (Gummesson, 1999).
Moreover, the model is based on a service logic in which the individual is a customer
within a relationship perspective. The model is built around customer retention,
long-term relationships, two-way communication and personal interactions (Gro
¨nroos,
2006), emphasizing a customer-centric view with relationship handling in the focus of
a firm’s marketing strategy and tactics (El-Ansary, 2005).
Moreover, it is assumed here that the RM-model, through the use of customer
relationship management and customer-specific marketing, has de-personalized
marketing further, instead of getting closer to the customer’s mind and senses.
In applying these technologies, firms have attempted to build long-term customer
relationships, based on a technically more advanced approach tha na personal approach,
one that has aroused criticism (O’Malley and Tynan, 2000).
Furthermore, the two models offer limited opportunities to depict the marketing
process of the multi-sensory brand-experience and follow certain logics. In other words, in
the TM-model, the good is dominant, and in the RM-model, the service dominates as a
support for customer processes. Neither model considers the marketing process of either
brand as image, or sensory experiences and what this entails. One weakness is that no
discussion or insights are offered with regard to which means or tools managers can use in
facilitating the multi-sensory brand-experience. Inspired by Gro
¨nroos (2009) and his
discussion about the importance of service, where service is seen as a mediating variable
for value creation, the presented model attempts to remedy these shortcomings.
The nature of sensory marketing
A SM model (SM) takes its point of departure in the human mind and senses, where
mental flows, processes and psychological reactions take place and result in a
multi-sensory brand-experience. An individual’s personal and subjective interpretation
and understanding of a multi-sensory brand-experience is referred to here as
TM RM SM
Marketing Goods logic Service logic Experiential logic
Exchange perspective Relationship perspective Brand perspective
TM RM SM
Strategic marketing Product focus Customer focus Mind and sense focus
Customer acquisition Customer retention Customer treatment
Transactional strategies Relational strategies Sensorial strategies
Tactical marketing Persuasion and
promotion
Interaction and interplay Dialogue and on-line
interactivity
One-way communication Two-way
communication
Multi-sensory
communication
Production technology Information technology Digital technology
Source: Developed from Hulte
´net al. (2009)
Table I.
From transaction and
relationship to SM
EBR
23,3
262
experiential logic. This means that, for each individual, the logic contributes to
forming behavioral, emotional, cognitive, sensory, or symbolic values (Holbrook, 1999;
Schmitt, 1999).
The experience becomes an image, forming the mental conceptions and perceptions
of interactions and inputs in the service process, which constitutes the final outcome of
the multi-sensory experience within a brand perspective. This perspective is defined
here as an individual’s beliefs, feelings, thoughts, and opinions about a brand, based on
the overall experience (Kotler, 2000; Brakus et al., 2009).
In this paper, it is suggested that the SM-model differs from the TM and RM-models,
through its emphasis on the multi-sensory brand-experience. In the latter two models,
the good or service is emphasized, but not the multi-sensory brand-experience of goods
or services or other elements within a brand perspective. The SM-model offers a firm the
opportunity to differentiate and express a brand as image through sensorial strategies,
including sensors, sensations, and sensory expressions, based on cognitive, emotional,
or value-based elements in relation to the human mind and senses. This relates to how
to position a product in the sense of “positioning is what you do to the mind of the
prospect” (Ries and Trout, 1982). The imprints a firm leaves, in order to distinguish and
express itself, can then be related to a deeper, individual emotional level.
Against this background, the multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis implies
the need for a SM model highlighting the significance of the human senses in reaching
the customer’s mind at a deeper level than the TM- and RM-models. In explaining why
firms focus on the human senses, this present study identifies three explanatory levels
within a SM model, i.e. sensorial strategies expressed through sensors, sensations, and
sensory expressions. There is no doubt that the number of potential means is infinite at
each level, indicating that the model allows ample choice in the marketing process. The
number of explanatory levels has been limited to only three, in order to make a
classification that facilitates the construction of the model. Furthermore, each level
contains a number of choices with respect to offering multi-sensory brand-experiences
in a SM model and context (Figure 1).
The aim is to simplify the process, by grouping possible choices together into the three
key explanatory levels of means. Moreover, the aim of the classification was to offer an
exhaustive classification, when no other could be found in the marketing literature.
A general assumption made here is that the three levels are, paradoxically, both related to
and independent of each other. They can simultaneously occur jointly or independently of
each other, but also be identified separately. Furthermore, at each level, different elements
or factors as tools can be applied in the marketing process, allowing differentiation and
variety. Finally, there is a mutual interdependence between different kinds of means,
creating regularity in one or more patterns of SM performance in the marketing process.
Sensorial strategies aim at differentiating and expressing a product, service or firm’s
identity in relation to the human mind and senses. A strategy is defined as sensorial,
when it appeals to a certain sense or senses in the customer’s mind. The reason for a firm
to develop sensorial strategies is to distinguish a brand from competing ones, especially
when such functional/rational attributes as price or quality are often the same.
Hence, sensorial strategies are based more on emotional/psychological elements than
functional attributes in clarifying a brand’s identity and values. The main purpose of
sensorial strategies is to facilitate the multi-sensory brand-experience expressed
Sensory
marketing
263
through means as sensors, sensations, and sensory expressions in relation to the five
human senses (Table II).
As an explanatory level, sensors aim at communicating sensations and sensory
expressions that reinforce the multi-sensory brand experience for the customer. A sensor
is defined as a communicative means, when it transmits sensations or sensory expressions
(stimuli) or receives information (signals) via devices, equipment, material, or employees
in relation to the customer. The reason for a firm to use sensors is to obtain a multi-sensory
communication platform, including promotion, such as traditional advertising, in
differentiating a brand. This reinforces the multi-sensory brand-experience on a daily
basis in servicescapes, as well as in virtual settings.
As an explanatory level, sensations aim at expressing a brand’s identity and values as
something distinctive and sensorial, in facilitating the multi-sensory brand experience.
A sensation is defined as an emotion or feeling that deliberately links the human mind
and the senses. The reason for a firm to distinguish and express a good or service as a
sensation, is to be observed by customers. This is especially relevant, since the human
senses continually notice every small change in the environment, either as a threat
Figure 1.
A SM model
Sensorial strategies
in relation to the five human senses
Sensors
Scent
sensors Sound
sensors Sight
sensors Taste
sensors Touch
sensors
Sensations
Atmos-
pheric Audi-
tory Visual Gastro-
nomic Tactile
Sensory expressions
in relation to smell, sound, sight, taste and touch
The multi-sensory brand-experience
Customer equity
Source: Developed from Hulten et al. (2009)
´
EBR
23,3
264
or an opportunity. Another reason is the difficulty many brands have in attracting
attention in the crowded, global marketplace.As an explanatory level, sensory
expressions aim at characterizing a brand’s identity and uniqueness in relation to each of
the five senses. A sensory expression is defined as an experience trigger that clarifies a
brand’s identity and values and leaves an imprint in the customer’s mind. The main
reason for a firm to apply sensory expressions is to be closer and more deeply imprinted
in the customer’s mind in terms of an image.
Discussion: the findings and the multi-sensory brand-experience
hypothesis
The presented SM model for governing the multi-sensory brand-experience derives
some of its theoretical origin from the experiential consumption concept of Holbrook and
Hirschmann (1982), consumer value from Holbrook (1999) and experiential marketing
from Schmitt (1999). The multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis suggests that
firms should apply sensorial strategies expressed through sensors, sensations, and
sensory expressions in relation to the human mind and senses.
The findings show that, in order to differentiate and distinguish a brand and express
its identity, these sensorial strategies, sensors, sensations and sensory expressions are
used more as a long-term strategy, rather than as a short-term business tactic. As a
marketing manager expressed it in an interview:
Yes, we definitely believe in the senses [...] We tried a business with selling online, but that
really destroyed everything we were trying to do – you can’t touch it, or smell it, or see it. You
are just relying on pictures. It didn’t really work for us, so we are not going down that road again.
Sensorial strategies for smell, sound, sight, taste, and touch have been recognized by the
studied companies. Especially, a sight strategy is considered as one of the most
significant ones in expressing a brand’s identity and value. A CEO of a fashion chain
expressed it as follows:
What the eyes see is extremely important. I would say that the eyes do 70 or 80 percent of the
buying. This is enormously important to bear in mind.
Sensors Sensations Sensory expressions
Smell sensors Atmospheric Product congruence, intensity and sex Atmosphere,
advertency and theme Scent brand and signature
scent
Sound sensors Auditory Jingle, voice and music Atmosphere, attentiveness
and theme Signature sound and sound brand
Sight sensors Visual Design, packaging and style
Color, light and theme Graphic, exterior and interior
Taste sensors Gastronomic Interplay, symbiosis and synergies Name,
presentation and environment Knowledge, lifestyle
and delight
Touch sensors Tactile Material and surface Temperature and weight Form
and steadiness
Source: Developed from Hulte
´net al. (2009)
Table II.
Sensors, sensations and
sensory expressions
Sensory
marketing
265
This philosophy has permeated all the elements that might be included in a sensory
experience of the brand. The colors black and white are used in all stores, as well as other
marketing channels and the lighting has to be strong in order to make the stores visible
from outside.
Design, packaging and style can be seen as the ultimate sensory expression of
individualization in differentiating a brand’s soft values. A challenge for many
industries is to let high-tech products become more “human”, and the Finnish producer
of mobile phones, Nokia, illustrates just this:
Nokia haschosen to design itsphones with softvalues in mind in order to appealto human senses.
The main rationale has been to move away from the hard values that technology conventionally
stands for. This has been a way to make the mobile phones more user-friendly by giving each
product an identity and soul. Nokia’s big screen and soft buttons have been designed for this
purpose and the ability to change the colour of a phone suggests increased individualization.
A sight strategy also emphasizes the significance of such sensory expressions as color,
light, and theme, as well as graphics, exterior, and interior. All are emphasized in
visualizing a brand’s identity and values.
A sensorial smell strategy is applied to allow a scent to become an element of a
brand’s identity and image. Scents contribute to creating memory pictures, a positive
atmosphere and wellbeing among both customers and empl oyees. Removing unpleasant
smells from the interior of a car to make it more pleasant to get into and use was
described in an interview with the Volvo marketing department in Gothenburg, Sweden:
We put a lot of effort into making the car smell good when one enters it. The new S80 and all
of our other cars are adapted for allergenic environments. The S80 is recommended by the
Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association. When the car is opened with the hand control, the
air is sucked out, as there is otherwise always an accumulation of the smell of plastic. This
indicates the development work in this area, which is quite enormous.
Other motives for a smell strategy are to accomplish a positive smell experience and
impact on customers’ emotional state and mood. A scent experience can also lend a
natural connection to a brand through sensory expressions like product congruency and
the intensity of a scent. Scents can also improve the recognition and recall of a brand
through such sensory expressions as signature scents or a scent brand.
A sensorial sound strategy is used to reinforce the identity and image of a brand.
Sound, and especially music, as sensory expressions, attach meaning to people and is a
source of inspiration. Music from a man’s or a woman’s youth are often used to create
memories. The American retailer Abercrombie & Fitch illustrates a sound strategy:
The signature sound at Abercrombie & Fitch is expressed through famous songs which have
been mixed to create the right atmosphere in the service landscape. A heavy bass is represented
in every song characterizes the firm’s music. The music played is very loud and gives the
impression of a night club. The songs are mixed to build up expectation that something more is
under way. There are no gaps between the tracks and therefore the tempo level and sound
pressure are constant in the store. Customers like the music and many dance in time to it.
Employees also dance, which gives the relaxed feeling of party and of “living it up”.
As sensory experiences, jingles and voices also contribute to the sound experience of a
brand. How the Swedish retail fashion Lindex uses jingles and TV commercials to
reinforce the image of the brand was expressed in an interview:
EBR
23,3
266
We adjust it depending on the season and the jingle was adapted to the current theme and
season. When the seasonal theme “Fashion Report Paris” was relevant at a certain time,
an accordion sound was added to the jingle to create the feeling of Paris. The accordion sound
was so subtle that customers had to focus carefully to notice it. Other than these seasonal
variations, the jingle was consistent.
A sensorial sound strategy also emphasizes the significance of such sensory expressions
as atmosphere, theme, and attentiveness, often used in creating a sound experience.
Sound can also be protected legally as a sound brand and used as a signature sound with
a distinct character.
As a sensorial strategy, taste includes much more than the actual flavor and relates
to such sensory expressions as interplay, symbiosis and synergy, emphasizing the
significance of other senses. An expert in the area expressed this in an interview:
Customers call it taste, but it is everything: how it looks, smells, feels, and sounds. All this, the
customer more or less merges into the concept of “taste”.
For this reason, a taste strategy might be more related to the customer’s multi-sensory
brand-experience, and a taste experience can include such other sensory expressions as
scent, sound, design or texture, that build on the interplay and synergies between
different senses.
Moreover, former experiences in terms of brand image are essential for a taste
strategy, so that it is not only the actual quality of a product that matters. This concept
was illustrated by the following comment in an interview:
You have other expectations of, for instance, Coca-Cola or Virgin. There are classic studies
that directly show the importance of the experience. Simply because a brand is strong, a Coca
Cola drinker, for example, perceives it as different from other colas. This is a perception that
is, of course, used in marketing.
Also, sensory expressions such as name, presentation, and setting, as well as
knowledge, delight, and lifestyle contribute to the taste experience of a brand’s image.
A sensorial touch strategy aims at strengthening the identity and image of a brand
through a physical and psychological interaction with customers. Touching products
makes it easier to remember them simply by looking at them. IKEA in Norway illustrates a
touch strategy:
During the summer of 2007, the company let its customers stay the night. The aim was to
create a touch experience of IKEA’S beds, at the same time as the actual features of the bed
were experienced during a night’s sleep. The night stay was free, and the customers could
choose between a basic dormitory, a family room, or a marriage chamber.
A touch experience is facilitated through such sensory expressions as material and
surface, which the beds illustrate, but also through temperature and weight, form and
stability. The importance of a brand being more accessible and enabling physical
interactions with the customers in today’s digitized world was expressed in an
interview with a retail concept manager:
To be able to touch the garment is very important for individuals in stores in the fashion
business. In this respect, I believe the physical stores have their main competitive weapon if
you compare them with e-commerce. “See it, feel it, try it, buy it”. Touch is very important.
Sensory
marketing
267
Tactile technology applied in servicescapes and virtual settings also result in
user-friendliness for the customers.
These findings support the notion that the multi-sensory brand-experience is built on
the notion of providing a personal touch, involvin g all five senses in the customer’s mind.
The American retailer Whole Foods illustrates a multi-sensory brand-experience:
In a sensorial smell strategy, the atmospheric sensations and their sensory expressions welcome
customers tothe servicescapes with a soft intensity andat the entrance,there is a bakery with an
oven spreading product-congruence scents of newly-baked bread as smell sensors. No artificial
scents are used and the natural scents from fruit and cheese offer smell experiences as sensors.
In a sensorial sound strategy, auditory sensations and their sensory expressions appear as
pop music with soft voices, through such sound sensors as stereos and loudspeakers and the
choice of music, which make it possible to say that the company has a signature sound.
In a sensorial sight strategy, visual sensations and their sensory expressions belong to the
interior with light colors like olive-green and yellow on the walls. The lighting is comfortable,
with spotlights as sights sensors aimed at special products, and style through colors and
lighting expresses proximity to nature. Handwritten information as sensors, give the graphic
feeling of a more personal sight experience.
In a sensorial taste strategy, gastronomic sensations and their sensory expressions reinforce
the taste experience through the interplay of other senses that allow synergies through staff
who wear aprons as taste sensors, which emphasize a homely feeling and superb food. The
company offers the presentation of real samples of tastes that are related to season and theme.
This creates a setting where “food thinking” is part of the interior and invites customers to
gain more knowledge, delight in and experience new tastes.
Finally, in a sensorial touch strategy, tactile sensations and their sensory expressions invite
customers to touch the products, because they are accessible in dishes or straw baskets that
emphasize personal contact as touch sensors. No plastic material is used, and cold and hot
foods are chosen by the customers themselves. There is a cheese room as a touch sensor with
stable doors to keep the temperature at the right level for the taste experience.
The above illustration effectively summarizes the discussion and supports
the multi-sensory brand-experience hypothesis. It is probably true, however, that the
hypothesis should not, in all cases, include all five senses. This means that
the hypothesis is also valid when only one or more of the senses are applied in a
SM model.
To sum up the findings, the studied companies emphasize the significance of the five
human senses in being closer and more deeply imprinted in the customer’s mind, as an
image within a brand perspective. The use of sensorial strategies can leave such
imprints of a multi-sensory brand-experience, so that a brand becomes more individual
and personal to the customer.
Conclusions, theoretical and managerial implications, and future research
This paper examines the multi-sensory brand-experience concept, proposing both a
hypothesis and a model. The article provides a theoretical and practical contribution on
the multi-sensory brand-experience concept, and a SM model was developed through a
methodology that yields new concepts and models.
The main conclusion is that the SM-model highlights the significance of the
multi-sensory brand-experience in differentiating, distinguishing and positioning a brand
EBR
23,3
268
in the human mind as an image. A firm can use sensorial strategies expressed through
sensors, sensations and sensory expressions in relation to the five human senses in leaving
imprints of a good or service. Through a value-generating process, the multi-sensory
brand-experience offers behavioral, emotional, cognitive, sensorial, or symbolic value at a
deeper, more internal level than the TM and RM models. In this regard, a smell, sound,
vision, taste or touch can reinforce a positive feeling, following the experiential logic, that
generates a certain value to the individual and, in particular, creates a brand image.
An important theoretical implication is that the multi-sensory brand-experience is the
ultimate outcome of a value-generating process between a supplier and a customer. The
value to the customer is embedded in the multi-sensory brand-experience and the customer
generates the value individually as a sole-creator in the human mind (Grro
¨nroos, 2006, 2008).
Through this process, with its sensory imprints, a good or a service becomes the experience
which is based on individual and personalized perceptions. It relates to defining the
process in itself as a service to the customer (Gro
¨nroos, 2006), in which sensorial strategies
play an important role for a firm in facilitating the multi-sensory brand-experience.
Another theoretical implication is that the multi-sensory brand-experience is central to
branding, as a result of value creation and value-generating processes (de Chernatony and
Segal-Horn, 2003; de Chernatony et al., 2006). So far, the branding literature has not taken
into consideration the multi-sensory brand-experience and its impact on what constitutes
a brand through the five senses, as an image in the human mind. It is possible to argue that
the multi-sensory brand-experience should be the basis for brand building and brand
identity in creating brand as image and loyalty.
In managerial terms, the findings yield new insights into applying the multi-sensory
brand-experience concept in practice. Its focus on the human mind and senses enables
managers to identify emotional/psychological connections in differentiating and
distinguishing a brand’s identity and values to customers. To date, these connections
have been more or less limited to advertising and the sense of sight, but in a multi-sensory
brand-experience, the senses of smell, sound, taste, and touch are also significant.
A sensory manual covering the five human senses should be developed, in which
sensorial strategies expressed through sensors, sensations, and sensory expressions as
means, could be identified in providing a brand’s personal imprint to the customers. This
can guide managers in building and establishing successful multi-sensory brand-experience
relationships, in contrast to more conventional and limited brand relationships.
Future research needs to be conducted on these issues, and the validity of the
framework must be investigated further. Research is also required on developing
appropriate measures for managing the multi-sensory brand-experience, concerning
outcome and performance. Finally, it would be useful to conduct research on the
multi-sensory interplay between the human senses in value-generating processes.
It should be noted that research on the multi-sensory brand-experience concept is
still in its infancy. This paper provides an exploratory overview of the multi-sensory
brand-experience concept within a SM model, which questions conventional marketing
models.
References
Anselm, K.J. and Kostelijk, E. (2008), “Identity based marketing: a new balanced marketing
paradigm”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 42 Nos 9/10, pp. 907-14.
Sensory
marketing
269
Arnould, E.J. and Thompson, C.J. (2005), “Consumer culture theory (CCT): twenty years of
research”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 31, March, pp. 868-82.
Arnould, E.J., Price, L.I. and Malshe, A. (2006), “Toward a cultural resource-based theory of the
customer”, in Lusch, R.F. and Vargo, S.L. (Eds), The Service-dominant Logic of Marketing:
Dialog, Debate and Directions, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY.
Biedekarken, O. and Henneberg, S. (2006), “Influence of brands on taste acceptance: ice cream
brand versus discount brand; brand recognition influences sensory acceptance positively
or negatively, an effect that can sometimes be quite dramatic”, Food Engineering and
Ingredients, Vol. 9 No. 1.
Brakus, J.J., Schmitt, B.H. and Zarantonello, L. (2009), “Brand experience: What is it? How is it
measured? Does it affect loyalty?”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 73, May, pp. 52-68.
Brembeck, H. and Ekstro
¨m, K. (2004), Elusive Consumption, Berg, Oxford.
Brodie, R., Coviello, N.E., Brookes, R.W. and Little, V. (1997), “Towards a paradigm shift in
marketing: an examination of current marketing practices”, Journal of Marketing
Management, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 383-406.
Brown, S. (1993), “Postmodern Marketing?”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 27 No. 4,
pp. 19-34.
Carbone, L. and Haeckel, S. (1994), “Engineering customer experience”, Marketing Management,
Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 8-19.
Christopher, M., Payne, A. and Ballantyne, D. (1991), Relationship Marketing, Butterworth
Heinemann, London.
Citrin, A.V., Stern, D.E., Spangenberg, E.R. and Clark, M.J. (2003), “Consumer need for tactile
input: an internet retailing challenge”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 56 No. 11,
pp. 915-22.
Crane, F., Kerin, R. and Hartley, S. (2007), Marketing, 7th Canadian ed., McGraw-Hill Ryerson,
Toronto.
de Chernatony, L. and Segal-Horn, S. (2003), “The criteria for successful services brands”,
European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 37 Nos 7/8, pp. 1095-118.
de Chernatony, L., Cottoma, S. and Segal-Horn, S. (2006), “Communication service brands’ values
internally and externally”, The Service Industries Journal, Vol. 25 No. 8.
Driver, J. and Noesselt, T. (2008), “Multisensory interplay reveals cross modal influences on
‘sensory specific’ brain regions, neural responses, and judgments”, Neuron, Vol. 57 No. 1,
pp. 11-23.
Edvardsson, B., Gustafsson, A. and Roos, I. (2005), “Service portraits in service research: a critical
review”, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 107-21.
Eiglier, P. and Langeard, E. (1976), “Principe de Politique Marketing pour les Enterprises de
Service”, working paper, Institut d’Administration des Enterprises, Universite
´
d’Aix-Marseille, Aix en Provence.
El-Ansary, A.I. (2005), “Relationship marketing management: a school in the history of
marketing thought”, Journal of Relationship Marketing, Vol. 4 Nos 1/2, pp. 43-56.
Fiore, A.M., Yah, X. and Yoh, E. (2000), “Effects of a product display and environmental
fragrancing on approach responses and pleasurable experiences”, Psychology Marketing,
Vol. 17, pp. 27-54.
Firat, A.F. and Schultz, C.J. (1997), “From segmentation to fragmentation – markets and
marketing strategy in the postmodern era”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 31
Nos 3/4, pp. 183-207.
EBR
23,3
270
Firat, A.F. and Venkatesh, A. (1995), “Liberatory postmodernism and the reechantment of
consumption”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 22, December, pp. 239-67.
Fugate, D.L. (2007), “Neuromarketing: a layman’s look at neuroscience and its potential
application to marketing practice”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 24 No. 7,
pp. 385-94.
Garlin, F.V. and Owen, K. (2006), “Setting the tone with a tune: a meta-analytic review of the
effects of background music in retail settings”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 59,
pp. 755-64.
Gershuny, J. (2000), Changing Times – Work and Leisure in Postindustrial Society, University
Press Oxford, Oxford.
Goldkuhl, L. and Styfve
´n, M. (2007), “Scenting the scent of service success”, European Journal of
Marketing, Vol. 41 Nos 11/12, pp. 1297-305.
Gro
¨nroos, C. (1982), “An applied service marketing theory”, European Journal of Marketing,
Vol. 16 No. 7, pp. 30-41.
Gro
¨nroos, C. (2000), Service Management and Marketing: A Customer Relationship Management
Approach, Wiley, Chichester.
Gro
¨nroos, C. (2006), “Adopting a service logic for marketing”, Marketing Theory, Vol. 6 No. 3,
pp. 317-33.
Gro
¨nroos, C. (2008), “Service logic revisited: who creates value? And who co-creates?”,
European Business Review, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 298-314.
Gro
¨nroos, C. (2009), “Service logic: value creation and co-creation and marketing implications”,
paper presented at the 14th Biennial World Marketing Congress, Academy of Marketing
Science, Oslo.
Gro
¨nroos, C. and Ravald, A. (2009), “Marketing and the logic of service: value facilitation,
value creation, and their marketing implications”, Working Papers Series No. 542/2009,
Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki.
Gummesson, E. (1998), “Implementation requires a relationship marketing paradigm”, Journal of
the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 26, Summer, pp. 242-9.
Gummesson, E. (1999), Total Relationship Marketing, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.
Gupta, S. and Vajic, M. (1999), “The contextual and dialectical nature of experiences”,
in Fitzsimmons, J. and Fitzsimmons, M. (Eds), New Service Development, Sage,
Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 33-51.
Hirschmann, E.C. and Holbrook, M.B. (1982), “Hedonic consumption: emerging concepts,
methods, and propositions”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 46, Summer, pp. 92-101.
Holbrook, M. (1999), Consumer Value, Routledge, London.
Holbrook, M.B. and Hirschman, E.C. (1982), “The experiential aspects of consumption: consumer
fantasies, feelings and fun”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 9, September, pp. 132-40.
Homburg, C., Koschate, N. and Hoyer, W.D. (2005), “The interplay of cognition and affect in the
formation of customer satisfaction: a dynamic perspective”, American Marketing
Association, Conference Proceedings, San Antonio, TX, Vol. 16.
Howard, M. and Mason, J. (2001), “21st-century consumer society”, Journal of Consumer
Behavior, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 94-101.
Hulte
´n, B., Broweus, N. and van Dijk, M. (2009), Sensory Marketing, Palgrave Macmillan,
Basingstoke.
Hunt, S.D. (2002), Foundations of Marketing Theory, M.E. Sharpe, New York, NY.
Sensory
marketing
271
Inglehart, R. (1997), Modernization and Post-modernization – Cultural, Economic, and Political
Change in 43 Societies, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Keller, K.L. and Lehmann, D.R. (2006), “Brands and branding: research findings and future
priorities”, Marketing Science, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 740-59.
Klaus, P. and Maklan, S. (2007), “The role of brands in a service-dominated world”, Journal of
Brand Management, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 115-22.
Klosse, P.R., Riga, J., Cramwinckel, A.B. and Saris, W.H.M. (2004), “The formulation and
evaluation of culinary success factors that determine the palatability of food”, Food Service
Technology, Vol. 4, pp. 107-15.
Kotler, P. (2000), Marketing Management – The Millennium Edition, Prentice Hall, New York, NY.
Morrison, S. and Crane, F.G. (2007), “Building the service brand by creating and managing
an emotional brand experience”, Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 410-21.
Normann, R. (2001), Reframing Business; When the Map Changes the Landscape, Wiley,
Chichester.
O’Malley, L. and Tynan, C. (2000), “Relationship marketing in consumer markets – rhetoric or
reality?”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 7, pp. 797-815.
Orth, U.R. and Malkewitz, K. (2008), “Holistic package design and consumer brand impressions”,
Journal of Marketing, Vol. 72, May, pp. 64-81.
Payne, A., Storbacka, K., Frow, P. and Knox, S. (2009), “Co-creating brands: diagnosing and
designing the relationship experience”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 62, pp. 379-89.
Peck, J. and Wiggins, J. (2006), “It just feels good: customers’ affective response to touch and its
influence on persuasion”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 70, pp. 56-69.
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.
Plassman, H., Ambler, T., Braeutigam, S. and Kenning, P. (2007), “What can advertisers learn
from neuroscience?”, International Journal of Advertising, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 151-75.
Powell, J. (1998), Postmodernism for Beginners, Writers and Readers, New York, NY.
Prahalad, C.K. and Ramaswamy, V. (2000), “Co-opting customer competence”, Harvard Business
Review on Customer RelationshipManagement, Harvard Business School Press, Boston,MA.
Pullman, M.E. and Gross, M.A. (2004), “Ability of service design elements to elicit emotions and
loyalty behaviors”, Decision Sciences, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 551-78.
Ratneshwar, S. and Mick, D. (2005), Inside Consumption, Routledge, London.
Ries, A. and Trout, J. (1982), Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Warner Books, New York, NY.
Schmitt, B. (1999), “Experiential marketing”, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 15,
pp. 53-67.
Smith, P. and Burns, D.J. (1996), “Atmospherics and retail environments: the case of the ‘Power
Aisle’”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 7-14.
Sweeney, C.J. and Wyber, F. (2002), “The role of cognitions and emotions in the music
approach-avoidance behaviour relationship”, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 16 No. 1,
pp. 51-70.
Thesen, T., Vibell, J., Calvert, G. and O
¨sterbauer, A. (2004), “Neuroimaging of multisensory
processing in vision, audition, touch and olfaction”, Cognitive Processing, Vol. 5 No. 2,
pp. 84-93.
Vargo, S. and Lusch, R. (2004), “Evolving to a new dominant logic in marketing”, Journal of
Marketing, Vol. 68 No. 1, pp. 1-17.
EBR
23,3
272
Woodruff, R.B. and Gardial, S. (1996), Know Your Customers – New Approaches to
Understanding Customer Value and Satisfaction, Blackwell, Oxford.
Further reading
Brodie, R.J., Glynn, M.S. and Little, V. (2006), “The service brand and the service-dominant logic:
missing fundamental premise or the need for stronger theory”, Marketing Theory, Vol. 6
No. 3, pp. 363-79.
Kim, W.C. and Mauborgne, R. (2005), Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business School Press,
Boston, MA.
Pralahad, C.K. (2004), “The co-creation of value”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 68 No. 1, pp. 14-28.
Prahalad, C.K. and Ramasvamy, V. (2000), “Co-opting customer competence”, Harvard Business
Review on Customer Relationship Management,Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.
Prahalad, C.K. and Ramaswamy, V. (2004), The Future of Competition, Harvard Business School
Press, Boston, MA.
Sheth, J.N. and Parvatiyar, A. (2000), Handbook of Relationship Marketing, Sage, London.
Smit, E., Bronner, F. and Tolboom, M. (2007), “Brand relationship quality and its value for
personal contact”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 60, pp. 627-33.
Vargo, S. and Lusch, R. (2006), “Service-dominant logic: what it is, what it is not, what it might
be”, in Lusch, R.F. and Vargo, S.L. (Eds), The Service Dominant-Logic of Marketing:
Dialog, Debate, and Directions, ME Sharpe, Armonk, NY, pp. 43-56.
Vargo, S. and Morgan, F.W. (2005), “Services in society and academic thought: an historical
analysis”, Journal of Macromarketing, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 42-53.
Corresponding author
Bertil Hulte
´n can be contacted at: bertil.hulten@inu.se
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com
Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints
Sensory
marketing
273
... Moreover, appearance can be called as source of pleasure (Decker and Trusov, 2010;Huang and Liu, 2020;Melewar et al., 2010;Schoenfelder and Harris, 2004) and an attribute distinguishing one brand from other brands that would increase consumers' preference (Reimann et al., 2010). Consumers' senses relate to the appearance or quality of brand design, for instance color, form, and proportion; thus, it becomes source of positive feelings for the customers (e.g., Huang and Liu, 2020;Hult en, 2011). The positive feelings are the basis for consumers to make repurchases of the product. ...
... Empirically, aesthetic aspects become brand stimulation supporting the brand consumer experience (Brakus et al., 2009;Ebrahim et al., 2016;Joy et al., 2014). Brand aesthetics enhance consumers' senses, and influence consumers' experience responses (Hult en, 2011;Schmitt, 1999;Gentile et al., 2007). The idea about consumer perception brand appearance or aesthetics is linked to consumer experience as shown by Sheng and Teo (2012). ...
... Because of appearance as aesthetic aspects, it has become brand stimuli that support consumer-based brand experience (Brakus et al., 2009;Ebrahim et al., 2016;Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982). Consistent with prior studies, brand aesthetics enhance consumers' senses and also positively impact the responses of consumers' experience (Hult en, 2011;Gentile et al., 2007;Schmitt, 1999). ...
Article
Full-text available
The study examines the effect of price perception and price appearance on Gen Y's repurchase intention towards snack products of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), along with the mediating roles of consumers' brand experience and preference. A survey method for data collection in the study used with a structured questionnaire, in which the respondents were requested to give their responses to the experiment conducted on local specialty snack products produced by SMEs. Covariance-based structural equation modeling (CB-SEM) was used to analyze the hypothesized relationships in the research model. The findings show that all the direct effects in the proposed model have a significant effect, except for the relationship between price perception and brand preference that there is no significant effect. Similarly, the mediating roles of consumer brand experience and consumer-based brand preference proved to have a significant effect. Finally, the implications of this study will be discussed further.
... Customer experience in a journey can be examined theoretically through five different dimensions (Schmitt, 1999): (1) sensory experience (sense); (2) cognitive experience (think); (3) affective experience (feel); (4) behavioural experience (act); and (5) social-identity experience (relate). Sensory experience is related to the five human senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) and, though it is often neglected in the marketing literature, arouses aesthetical pleasure, excitement, satisfaction, beauty perception, memory and emotion (Hultén, 2011). In terms of the cognitive dimension, an experience acts as a personal trial which transforms individuals or allows them to develop certain philosophical, sociological and psychological perspectives (Carù & Cova, 2003). ...
... The first experiential dimension is sensory experience and five types of sensory experiences appear throughout the interviews: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell (see Table 3). With regard to the pre-accommodation stage, the most frequently-indicated experiential notions for both platforms are related to the sense of sight, which is the most powerful for discovering differences in the environment, and the most common in perceiving goods and services (Hultén, 2011). Frequently-inferred key sight appeals, that influence the pre-accommodation stage for Airbnb consumers involve "Photos of exteriors and interiors", "Location", "The features of accommodation" and "Photos of host", whereas for Couchsurfers they include "Photos of host", "Features of Website/mobile application" and "Photos of exteriors and interiors". ...
... In this context, the sense of smell, considered a strong stimulus in the experiential marketing literature, evokes consumer emotions and plays an instrumental role in the decision-making process by influencing consumer thinking (Vinitzky & Mazursky, 2011). Furthermore, sensory experience becomes deeper and more meaningful if combined with sensorial tastewhen consumers are exposed to different tastes and taste compositions in their experiences (Hultén, 2011). For instance: "Smell in the house is very important. ...
Article
This study explores the collaborative consumption journey in purchase funnel, covering both the pre-accommodation and during/post-accommodation stages, and extends knowledge toward the intersection of customer experience and the field of shared economics. Firstly, we identify all potential touchpoints in multiple stages of the collaborative consumption journey through in-depth interviews and then we investigate experiential dimensions of the collaborative consumption journey by means of a qualitative study and the prioritization of dimensions of customer experience through the Analytical Hierarchical Process methodology by analysing two different types of access-based consumption: the renting platform Airbnb and the lending platform Couchsurfing. Touchpoints were framed under four groups: (a) brand-owned, (b) partner-owned, (c) customer-owned and (d) social/external. The results demonstrate that sensory, affective and cognitive dominant experiences act as the primary roles for both collaborative consumption platforms in the pre-accommodation stage, whereas the collaborative consumption experience is enriched with distinct experiences in the during/post-accommodation stage. The cognitive experience is relatively more important for Airbnb, while sensory experience plays a more critical role in the Couchsurfing journey in the pre-accommodation stage. These experiences then shift into affective and relational experiences during/post-accommodation stage.
... Although there are several studies showing that brand experiences have a positive effect on different variables related to the brand, such as purchase intent, satisfaction, trust or brand loyalty (e.g., Brakus, Schmitt & Zarantonello 2009;Ha & Perks 2005;Keng, Tran & Thi2013;Mathwick, Malhotra & Rigdon 2002;Şahin, Zehir & Kitapçı 2011;Sands, Oppewal & Beverland 2008;Zarantonello & Schmitt 2010), there are few studies that analyze the impact of brand experiences on consumer-based brand equity (Cleff et al. 2014;Kumar, Dash & Purwar 2013;Moreira, Fortes & Santiago 2017;Ding & Tseng 2015). Given this context and the need of more empirical studies that analyze the influence that the different brand experience dimensions have on the different constructs that compose consumer-based brand equity (Bapat & Thanigan 2016;Cleff et al. 2014;Hultén 2011;Keng et al. 2013;Kumar et al. 2013;Şahin et al. 2011;Schmitt 2009;Zarantonello & Schmitt 2010), this article aims to explore the relationship between brand experiences and consumer-based brand equity. ...
... In a study that integrated several experiential brandssuch as Harley-Davidson, Nike, McDonald's or Ikea- Gentile et al. (2007) found that sensory dimension was the most important to consumers, although many of the brands revealed "complex experiences" by involving more than one dimension. Sensory brand experiences focus on differentiating, distinguishing and positioning brand in the human mind (Foster & McLelland 2015;Hultén 2011) and can influence a positive brand image and reinforce positive feelings (Hultén 2011; Moreira et al. 2017). Dolbec and Chebat (2013) add that positive brand experiences stimulate the consumer's senses, engaging them through emotions, cognitions and physical experiences. ...
... Additionally, the importance of the emotional dimension is also widely acknowledged among several authors (e.g., A-Qader, Omar & Rubel 2017;Ding & Tseng 2015;Cleff et al. 2014;Chang & Chieng 2006), because the emotional connection between a brand and the consumer plays a key role in building strong brands (Bapat & Thanigan 2016;Gentile et al. 2007;Hultén 2011), for both product and service brands (Bapat &Thanigan 2016). Iglesias, Singh and Batista-Foguet (2011) provided empirical evidence that the emotional dimension completely mediates brand experience and brand loyalty, suggesting that for brands achieve brand loyalty and consolidate affective bonds with their customers, they must invest in the emotional dimension of the communications and of the entire brand experience provided. ...
Article
Full-text available
(Full article available at https://rdcu.be/ca8ic) In markets where products and services have become similar, with no major functional differences, and where consumer choices are more and more influenced by emotional aspects rather than by rational thinking, experiences have surfaced as the main form of differentiation between companies. More than the inherent characteristics of products or services per se, brands become a source of differentiation of companies, with its role expanded from an assembly of attributes to a sum of experiences. This investigation in the experiential marketing area aims to understand the dimensions of the experiences that have an influence on consumers, and how do these experiences have influence consumer-based brand equity. Based on a quantitative study, the results show brand experience has a positive influence on consumer-based brand equity. Sensory and emotional experiences evidenced a higher influence in all the dimensions of brand equity. Multigroup analysis also show that intellectual experience triggers brand equity consumers in consumer with positive brand behaviour.
... Hoy en día vivimos en un mundo basado en lo visual, donde el sentido de la vista se ha posicionado como el sentido más seductor, teniendo la capacidad de convencernos a pesar de que la lógica nos indique lo contrario (Lindstrom, 2005). Por este motivo y teniendo en cuenta que, a diferencia de otros sentidos, el sentido de la vista es selectivo y existen ciertos estímulos que el ser humano no puede detectar de forma consciente (Manzano et al., 2011), Hultén (2011 afirma que las marcas deben prestar especial atención a los diferentes estímulos visuales de la empresa como son el nombre, logotipo o envase a la hora de diseñar una estrategia de creación de marca. ...
... In today's economy, consumers buy emotional experiences rather than products and services (Hultén, 2011). The emotional linkage and experience associated with a brand is extremely important in building strong brands. ...
Article
Full-text available
The use of neuroscience tools to study consumer behavior and the decision making process in marketing has improved our understanding of cognitive, neuronal, and emotional mechanisms related to marketing-relevant behavior. However, knowledge about neuroscience tools that are used in consumer neuroscience research is scattered. In this article, we present the results of a literature review that aims to provide an overview of the available consumer neuroscience tools and classifies them according to their characteristics. We analyse a total of 219 full-texts in the area of consumer neuroscience. Our findings suggest that there are seven tools that are currently used in consumer neuroscience research. In particular, electroencephalography (EEG) and eye tracking (ET) are the most commonly used tools in the field. We also find that consumer neuroscience tools are used to study consumer preferences and behaviors in different marketing domains such as advertising, branding, online experience, pricing, product development and product experience. Finally, we identify two ready-to-use platforms, namely iMotions and GRAIL that can help in integrating the measurements of different consumer neuroscience tools simultaneously. Measuring brain activity and physiological responses on a common platform could help by (1) reducing time and costs for experiments and (2) linking cognitive and emotional aspects with neuronal processes. Overall, this article provides relevant input in setting directions for future research and for business applications in consumer neuroscience. We hope that this study will provide help to researchers and practitioners in identifying available, non-invasive and useful tools to study consumer behavior.
... Further, from a sensory marketing perspective which is a new marketing trend that suggests marketers to build upon consumer's five senses and affects their behavior (Krishna, 2010;Krishna, 2012;Lindström, 2005;Hultén, 2015;Hultén, 2011), researchers suggest that the sensory inputs of color attained through the sense of vision tend to impact on the consumer. In fact, colors have attention-attracting properties which can distracts attention to irrelevant sensory cues at the expense of more relevant information (Meyers-Levy and Peracchio, 1995). ...
Article
Full-text available
As a marketing tool, color attracts consumers, consequently, shaping their perception. This study seeks to examine how mere colors featured in brand logos evoke consumer perception about a retailer's eco-friendliness. Data from two experiments show that exposure to a logo featuring a high eco-friendly color (green) makes a retailer's practice more environmentally friendly, while exposure to a logo featuring a low-eco-friendly color (red) makes the retailer practice seem less environmentally friendly. The paper also demonstrates the moderating role of gender, such that females tend to show more positive responses to a logo featuring an eco-friendly color than male. Further, we show how processing fluency mediates the interactive effect of logo color and consumers' perception about a retailer's eco-friendliness. This current research makes some important theoretical contributions to the evolving field of design issues in marketing. Further, this research contributes to practice in several ways. We suggest marketing managers use green color in their logo designs to promote their environmentally friendly practices. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.
Research Proposal
Full-text available
The question this research will try to answer is how efficiently and with what tools is a brand managed within a multinational company. The objective is to identify these tools, if available, and to link the utilization of said tools with efficiency indicators. This research will then focus on examining the tools that are available to executive managers to manage the entire scope of brand elements. Considering the size of this scope, a manager would need to have an overview of many company sectors to manage the brand adequately. The aim of the study is to identify these currently available tools and propose and put forward a useful tool for brand management. With a qualitative research approach, the research will investigate brand cohesion across the company, utilization of brand value, brand equity, and brand awareness as indicators of efficiency in brand management.
Article
Full-text available
Visual impact is essential when consumers are assessing car preferences. The purpose of this paper is to present a holistic model focusing on car aesthetic dimensions and its impact on consumers’ purchase decisions. Our findings are based on a questionnaire completed by 388 participants and analyzed with SPSS and AMOS. The results show not only that the aesthetic dimensions such as color, shape and sound influence the processing stimuli, but also the significant and positive relationships established between the stimuli and the purchase decision. Also, this study can guide marketers when developing an effective marketing strategy. As our research focuses on the Romanian market, testing our framework in different cultures is strongly encouraged.
Article
Full-text available
Marketing inherited a model of exchange from economics, which had a dominant logic based on the exchange of “goods,” which usually are manufactured output. The dominant logic focused on tangible resources, embedded value, and transactions. Over the past several decades, new perspectives have emerged that have a revised logic focused on intangible resources, the cocreation of value, and relationships. The authors believe that the new per- spectives are converging to form a new dominant logic for marketing, one in which service provision rather than goods is fundamental to economic exchange. The authors explore this evolving logic and the corresponding shift in perspective for marketing scholars, marketing practitioners, and marketing educators.
Article
Full-text available
Executive summary When it comes to repeat business, some managers are clueless. Customers always get more than they bargain for, because a product or service always comes with an experience. By "experience," we mean the "takeaway" impression formed by people's encounters with products, services, and businesses—a perception produced when humans consolidate sensory information. We constantly filter a barrage of clues, organizing them into a set of impressions—some of them rational, some emotional. These impressions can be very subtle-even subliminal-or extremely obvious. They may occur by happenstance or by purposeful design. They may exist as isolated episodes or as managed suites. Collectively, they become an experience. Experience clues may be either performance—or context-based. Performance clues relate to the function of the product or service e.g., the bank did or did not dispense the right amount of cash or the razor did or did not give a close, smooth shave. But over and above the performance of the service, context clues are telegraphed by the appearance of the ATM (or the demeanor of the teller); by the decor, smell, cleanliness, and privacy of the location; by the legibility of the print on the receipt; and by a host of other signals. Similarly, the clues generated by the way the razor shaves are complemented by clues sent out by its look, smell, feel, and sound as well as from the people and things in the environment when a customer inquires about, buys, pays for, uses, and maintains it. Unmanaged, these clues may cancel each other out and leave no net impression on the customer, or worse, induce a strong net negative perception.
Article
This paper looks at how society has changed over the past ten years in terms of individual values, aspirations and consumer behaviour patterns, and relates these to underlying demographic, economic, technological and social trends. It summarises findings of research undertaken by the Future Foundation. The research identifies six ‘I’ factors, which, together, help to explain the different ways in which individuals are choosing to take control over an increasing number of areas of their lives. The most prominent of these are the desire for and reality of independence; individuality — the growing politics of difference; the changing nature and sources of identity; and interconnectedness — access to and use of information. The others are interactivity and imagination. It concludes that High ‘I’ values, although realised by a minority today, are aspired to by the majority and that all the economic, technological and attitudinal conditions are ripe for the ‘iSociety’, as it is called, to flourish and develop substantially over the next decade.
Article
Initially dismissed as one among many intellectual fads, postmodernism now occupies a prominent position in all manner of academic disciplines. Although marketers have not been slow to board the postmodern bandwagon, the majority of analyses thus far have been preoccupied with the concept's implications for marketing practice rather than marketing theory. Examines the nature of postmodernism, explores its very serious implications for marketing thought and evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of a postmodern marketing revolution or paradigm shift. Concludes that although postmodernism challenges much of what marketing theorists hold dear, it offers a number of significant conceptual compensations.
Article
Despite the strong recognition that customer satisfaction should be viewed from a dynamic perspective, little is known about how the satisfaction judgment develops over time. Therefore, this study provides a dynamic analysis of the simultaneous influence of cognition and affect in the satisfaction formation process. The results of an experimental study based on a real consumption experience indicate that the impact of cognition on the satisfaction evaluation increases and the influence of affect decreases over time. Moreover, these effects are attenuated with inconsistent performance experiences. Finally, the study shows that the variance in customer satisfaction jointly explained by cognition and affect increases as experience accumulates.