The inuence of selected senses on consumer
experience: A brandy case
1Department of Business
University, South Africa
Private Bag X1, Maeland,
7601, South Africa
Received: 10 Aug. 2012
Accepted: 27 Mar. 2013
Published: 14 May 2013
How to cite this arcle:
Pentz, C. & Gerber, C.,
2013, ‘The inuence of
selected senses on consumer
experience: A brandy case’,
Acta Commercii 13(1), Art.
#183, 7 pages. hp://dx.doi.
© 2013. The Authors.
OpenJournals. This work
is licensed under the
Orientation: Sensory marketing has become a popular marketing technique to enhance
consumer experience. Researchers have suggested that marketers should incorporate as many
senses as possible in order for sensory marketing to be effective.
Research purpose: To investigate the inuence of selected senses – sight, sound and smell –
on consumers’ experience, specically in terms of the tastiness of brandy.
Motivation for the study: Even though the use of the senses such as sight, sound and smell
is a popular sensory marketing tool in the eld of experiential marketing, applying such
marketing techniques is a challenging and costly exercise for marketers, and researchers have
called for more studies on senses and consumer experience.
Research design, approach and method: A full factorial laboratory experiment (2 x 2 x 2)
was conducted where 240 spirits consumers indicated the tastiness of a brandy sample under
Main ndings: Results revealed that, within a laboratory setting, consumers recorded lower
levels of tastiness under conditions where more senses were manipulated than in conditions
where less senses were manipulated.
Practical/managerial implications: The results of the study coincided with previous results,
which indicated that, within certain product categories, sensory marketing could actually
decrease the consumer’s experience as sensory overload could occur.
Contribution/value-add: In the endeavour to reduce possible sensory overload in the
alcohol industry, the ndings suggest that marketers should not apply sensory marketing
indiscriminately to all product categories. For example, on a retail level, where experimental
marketing might be too costly or even too complex to apply to some product categories,
marketers should rather rethink the use of sensory marketing strategies within certain
industries and focus on other marketing strategies, such a brand building.
‘Advertising is not what it used to be. Despite the fact that we are using more and more marketing
resources communicating with consumers, the returns are ever diminishing’ (Lindstrom 2005).
Consumers are bombarded with information and, as a result, modern-day marketers need to
investigate new ways of breaking through the advertising clutter to reach their target consumers
more effectively. In an attempt to break through this clutter, Berry, Carbone and Haeckel (2002)
argued that managers should create value for customers by means of experiences. As a result,
companies started to move away from traditional ‘features-and-benets’ marketing toward
creating experiences for their customers by means of so-called ‘experiential marketing’.
Traditional marketing views consumers as rational decision makers who are interested in
functional features and benets, whereas experiential marketing views consumers as rational
and emotional beings who are interested in achieving pleasurable experiences (Schmitt 1999).
McCole (2004) stated that the concept of experiential marketing would rise in importance,
as marketing in the twenty-rst century is more challenging than ever before as a result of
fragmented media and clever, articulated and ‘free-thinking’ consumers. Customer experience
relates to a set of interactions between the customer and a product and implies the customer’s
involvement at different levels (i.e. rational, emotional, sensorial, physical and spiritual), where
the involvement is strictly personal (Gentile, Spiller & Noci 2007; Schmitt 1999). Schmitt (1999)
investigated how companies can create different types of experiences for consumers by focusing
on so-called experiential modules, namely creative cognitive experiences (thinking), physical
experiences, behaviours and lifestyles (acting), social-identity experiences resulting from relating
to a reference or cultural group (relating), affective experiences (feeling) and, lastly, sensory
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Many products project important nonverbal cues that must
be seen, heard, tasted, felt or smelled to be appreciated
properly (Holbrook & Hirschman 1982). The sense module,
also referred to as sense or sensory marketing, therefore
appeals to the senses, with the objective of creating sensory
experiences by means of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
Sensory marketing can be used to differentiate companies
and products, motivate consumers, add value to products
and enhance customer experiences (for example, by means of
aesthetics or excitement) (Schmitt 1999).
In terms of alcohol consumption, a report published by
Datamonitor (2008), a leading provider of online data,
indicated that alcohol consumers are increasingly looking
for enhanced sensory experiences. Datamonitor’s study
comprised a detailed quantitative analysis of on-trade
alcohol consumption covering nine core developed countries
across Europe, North America and Australasia: France,
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the
USA and Australia. This fact that consumers are increasingly
seeking enhanced sensory experiences was highlighted by
Bruwer, Saliba and Miller (2011), who argued that rms
competing in, for example, the wine industry need to increase
investigations into the sensory preferences of wine-drinking
consumers. Also, in Southern Africa, little research has been
conducted into the sensory experiences and/or preferences
The present study aimed to contribute to the eld of
experiential marketing, specically in terms of the alcohol
industry in a developing market (South Africa) and with
specic focus on the experiential module of sensory
marketing. To further narrow down the research and
provide information to a leading distributor of spirits in
South Africa, brandy was selected as the alcoholic product,
with the purpose of investigating whether certain selected
senses have an inuence on the perceptions of South
African consumers in terms of the perceived tastiness1 of an
alcoholic brand. Only the senses of smell, sound and sight
were selected for purposes of this study. These senses were
selected because Wright (2006) argued that they could be
classied as the main human senses. The results of this study
could be useful for South African marketers of brandy in
the development of effective sensory marketing strategies
that could be appealing to brandy consumers and result in
The article is structured as follows: In the following section,
the theoretical background to sensory marketing and the
human senses will be provided, followed by the objectives
and methodology of the study. The nal section will deal with
the statistical analysis, results and managerial implications in
terms of the development of marketing strategies for brandy
in South Africa.
In the eld of marketing, there is much debate around the
reassessment of ideas and concepts that have been tried and
1.For the purposes of this arcle, dierenaon needs to be made between tasness
(i.e. appesing) and taste (the sense).
tested through the years (Hultén, Broweus & Van Dijk 2009).
A major challenge faced by all marketers is to understand
how the purchase behaviour of consumers can be inuenced
in favour of the products or services being offered to them
(Belch and Belch 2012).
As human minds have limits on the amount of stimulation
that can be handled, information is usually screened from
the environment (Semenik 2002). Before data can therefore
be perceived, it passes through perceptual screens that
protect humans from unwanted messages. These screens
act as subconscious lters and can be either physiological or
psychological in nature (Arens 2006). Psychological screens
assess data in terms of the consumer’s needs, motives,
expectations and personality, whilst physiological screens
involve the ve senses that are used to detect incoming data
and measure the dimension and strength of physical stimuli
The argument can be made that as consumers are
subjected on a daily basis to high volumes of marketing
communication, unconscious triggers that appeal to the
basic senses of consumers (i.e. sensory marketing) might be
a more effective way than traditional marketing methods in
appealing to consumers (Krishna 2012). It is also believed
that even though marketers have always been aware of the
signicance of the human senses on consumer behaviour,
the senses have for many years been neglected or ignored in
marketing strategies (Hultén et al. 2009; Hultén 2011).
The concept of sensory marketing can be dened as
‘marketing that engages the consumers’ senses and
affects their perception, judgment and behavior’ (Krishna
2012:332). Krishna (2012) comes to the conclusion that
sensory marketing can be applied to create subconscious
triggers portraying consumer perceptions of abstract ideas
of products (for example the quality or sophistication of
products) and that an understanding of the sensory triggers
implies an understanding of the concepts of perception and
senses. Even though numerous research studies have been
conducted on the senses, relatively little research has been
conducted in the eld of sensory marketing, and the strategic
use of sensory marketing is therefore fairly limited (Suhonen
& Tengvall 2009).
Percepon and sensaon
Over time, many inquiring individuals (such as Einstein,
Socrates and Aristotle) have tried to comprehend how
people come to know and understand what is happening
in the world around them (Wright 2006). The concept of
consumer perception is believed to play a fundamental
role in the process of how humans acquire, consume and
dispose of goods and services (Arnould, Price & Zinkhan
2004). Researchers concur that perception can be dened as
‘the process by which an individual selects, organises and
interprets stimuli into a meaningful and coherent picture of
the world’ (Schiffman & Kanuk 2010:175). Tollington (1998)
points out that perceptions are formed through information
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that is received from the environment by the consumers’
ve senses, namely sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste,
and Lindstrom (2005) argues that the majority of a person’s
understanding of the world is experienced through the
senses. Marketers tend to agree that perception plays a vital
role in marketing programmes, where the use of pictures,
images, spoken and written language, colour, noise, music,
tastes as well as smells are used (Wright 2006).
As far as the concept of sensation is concerned, this can
be dened as ‘the immediate and direct response of the
sensory organs to stimuli’ (Schiffman & Kanuk 2010:175).
According to Schiffman and Kanuk (2010), a stimulus (such
as a product, package, brand name or advertisement) is any
unit of input to any of the senses, whilst sensory receptors
(the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin) are the human organs
that receive sensory inputs. In short, it can be argued that
perception is the awareness or receipt of sensory information,
whilst sensation is the response to such information.
The conclusion can therefore be made that, as sensation and
perception are stages of processing the senses (Krishna 2012),
marketers could attempt to apply techniques to stimulate
consumers’ senses so that consumer experiences could be
enhanced. According to Bruwer et al. (2011), a large number
of cues such as product, atmospheric and sensory cues could
inuence, for example, wine consumers in various ways. The
research on which this article is based, focused on sensory
marketing, and aimed to examine the effect that (selected)
senses have on consumer experiences (specically the
tastiness of a brandy).
To examine the effect that senses might have on consumer
experiences, the senses will be addressed in more detail in
the following section.
The sense of sight
The sense of sight is probably the most developed and
prominent human sense (Hultén et al. 2009; Krishna 2012;
Wright 2006). Hultén (2011) also states that sight can be
regarded as the most powerful sense for discovering changes
and differences in the environment, and it is also the most
common sense in detecting goods or services. Of all ve
human senses, the sense of sight is then also the sense that
has been focused on mostly by marketing practitioners
(Elder et al. 2010; Hultén et al. 2009). According to Arnould
et al. (2004), most past research on vision in consumer
research has examined colour or more complex visual
stimuli, such as words and pictures. Results of previous
studies, for example, indicated that human exposure to
warm hues (red-orange-yellow) raises blood pressure, heart
rate and perspiration, whereas exposure to cool hues (green-
blue) has the opposite effect. In applying these ndings to
commercial environments, results of studies showed that
yellow telephone booths increase the speed of phone calls,
yellow walls and xtures result in people moving through
stores at a faster pace, and orange xtures in fast-food
restaurants stimulate hunger. Colour can therefore play an
important role in the success of marketing stimuli, such as
the colour used in advertising or colours used for package
design (Arnould et al. 2004; Wolfe, Kluener & Levi 2006).
The sense of smell
It is believed that the human smelling ability develops and
reaches a plateau at about the age of eight and then declines
as humans grow older. The sense of smell is the only sense
that cannot be turned off (Suhonen & Tengvall 2009). This
sense is the most direct of all senses, and odour can affect
signicantly an individual’s evaluation of things and other
people (Aitamer & Zhou 2011; Arnould et al. 2004). The
sense of smell can also be related to pleasure and happiness
and is believed to be correlated closely to emotions and
memories (Hultén 2011). It should, however, be noted that,
even though the sense of smell is less important for humans
than for many other animals, odours have a persistent and
omnipresent quality that may be difcult to escape (Arnould
et al. 2004). Evidence seems to suggest that good or bad
feelings generated by smells in humans are being associated
with upbringing, culture, learning, emotion and psychology
(Wright 2006). For scent to be used as a marketing tool to
attract attention to a specic product, it is vital that the scent
corresponds with the product (Suhonen & Tengvall 2009).
Teller and Dennis (2012), however, argue that the effect of
ambient scent on consumer-related reactions has received
relatively little attention from marketing researchers in
The sense of hearing
Even though hearing is largely considered to be secondary in
terms of perceptual power when compared with the sense of
sight, the auditory system (ears) is capable of picking up and
conveying various kinds of information to the brain (Wright
2006). Arnould et al. (2004) argue that sound patterns can
create a mood of relaxation or stimulation, and point out
that religions and cults have been using music for many
years to induce trances or other mood states. According
to Assael (1995), advertisers frequently make use of music
through jingles or as background themes to create positive
associations with brands, whilst Hultén (2011) points out that
the sense of sound can be linked to emotions and feelings and
can impact brand experiences and interpretations. Marketers
are, however, advised to pretest such stimuli to ensure that
positive associations with a brand will indeed be created
The sense of touch
Touch or tactile perception is a sense that is different from
sight and hearing in that it is not localised to one area of the
body. Humans can therefore ‘feel’ through the skin with any
part of their bodies, be it through the hands, ngers, feet,
toes, arms, legs, head, face, chest or bottom (Wright 2006).
According to Arnould et al. (2004) there are various complex
sensations that constitute the sense of touch, and many parts
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of the human body are much more sensitive than others.
Arnould et al. (2004) also point out that numerous studies
have highlighted the vital effects of touch. Studies have,
for example, shown that babies that were massaged gained
weight as much as 50% faster than unmassaged babies, that
touch is critical in the psychological as well as the physical
development of children and that sustained touching can
reduce a human’s heart rate and can have a calming effect
on a person (Arnould et al. 2004). Assael (1995) noted that
consumers also use ‘feel’ as a means of determining quality
by, for example, using the feel of textile fabrics, clothing,
carpeting or furniture to evaluate the quality of the specic
The sense of taste
According to Wright (2006) the average adult person has
approximately 10 000 taste buds that are able to detect the
chemical constituents of food and beverages. Taste buds are
grouped according to themes (salt, sour, sweet and bitter) at
various locations inside the mouth. People use the tip of the
tongue to taste sweet things, the back of the tongue to taste
bitter things and the sides to taste bitter things, whilst salty
things are tasted up front and along the surface (Arnould et
al. 2004). Assael (1995) pointed out that taste can be an elusive
The use of senses in sensory
Creating customer experience seems to be one of the central
objectives in retail environments (Verhoef et al. 2009). Achrol
and Kotler (2012) make the point that consumers satisfy their
needs by means of a complex of experiences that are ltered
through their senses. Experiential marketing has therefore
become a popular marketing technique used by marketers
in promotions. More specically, sensory marketing has
been applied in various ways in below-the-line promotions.
According to research, marketers need to incorporate all
the senses in sensory marketing as senses rarely operate
in isolation (Krishna 2012; Wright 2006). In the eld of
marketing, incorporating consumers’ senses of sight, smell
and sound is a popular sensory marketing tool as these
senses are classied as the main senses in humans (Wright
2006). Incorporating senses such as touch and taste remains a
challenge for marketers as certain products such as expensive
alcohols and computer software do not necessarily lend
themselves to be promoted by means of touch and taste in
a retail setting. Bruwer et al. (2011), for example, argued that
when wine is sold in a retail setting, the focus is mainly on
tangible product cues such as the grape variety and the bottle
shape and size, rather than on the wine itself, as consumers
cannot necessarily touch or taste the product at the retailer.
Even though the use of the senses such as sight, sound and
smell is a popular sensory marketing tool in experiential
marketing, applying such marketing techniques remains
challenging and costly for marketers. Consequently, there has
been a call from researchers for more studies on senses and
consumer experience (Krishna 2012; Orth 2005). Therefore,
the aim of the study being reported here was to examine the
effect of senses on consumers’ experiences.
Research method and design
Materials and procedure
As the senses of sight, smell and sound are regarded as the
main senses, only the inuence of these senses on consumers’
experiences was examined. To assess the inuence of sight,
smell and sound on consumer experiences, a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial
design was applied. Respondents were assigned randomly to
one of eight conditions. As the spirits industry constantly uses
experiential marketing in promotions, spirits drinkers were
selected for purposes of the study. A screening question was
used to ensure that respondents did in fact consume brandy.
The objective of the screening question was to ensure that
all respondents were familiar with the product category and
that experience was, at least to some extent, held constant.
Following the screening question, each respondent was lead
to a glass cubicle where he or she had to taste a sample of
the same brandy under eight different circumstances. The
cubicles were in a sensory laboratory often used to test alcohol
products. The facility has 12 individual soundproof tasting
booths. There are small windows in each booth from which
the tasting samples are served, resulting in the experiment
being free from human or facilitator interruption. The tasting
glasses were lled with 40 mL samples of a chosen brandy,
which was broken down to 20% alcohol by volume. Brandy
is suitable for consumer testing at 20% alcohol by volume,
blended with distilled water (Schmidt 2008).
To determine whether sight, sound and smell have an
impact on consumer experience, treatment effects had to
be considered carefully. Since the chosen brandy had a
distinctive honey smell, the impact of smell on perceived
quality was investigated by giving respondents a leaet
with an enhanced honey smell. Respondents were instructed
to smell the leaet and then to taste the brandy. Sight was
controlled by removing the product colour by means of a
red light in each respective tasting booth. This applies to all
experiments where sight is not manipulated by the product
colour. Finally, the effect of sound was investigated by
playing a pouring sound in the booth whilst the respondent
tasted the brandy. Table 1 summarises the experimental
design followed in the study.
TABLE 1: Experimental design.
Experiment Experimental treatment Test
Group 1 Smell manipulated (Smell honey leaet) O1
Group 2 Sight manipulated (Colour of the brandy visible) O2
Group 3 Sound manipulated (Listen to pouring sound) O3
Group 4 Sight and smell manipulated (Colour of brandy visible, smell
Group 5 Smell and sound manipulated (Smell honey leaet,
listen to pouring sound)
Group 6 Sound and sight manipulated (Listen to pouring sound, colour
of brandy visible)
Group 7 Sight, smell and sound manipulated (Colour of the
brandy visible, listen to pouring sound, smell
Group 8 No treatment (No pouring sound, colour of the brandy
not visible, no smelling of honey leaet)
Source: Author’s own construcon
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For the purposes of the research on which this article is
based, a laboratory experiment was conducted as researchers
have a higher degree of control over variables in laboratory
experiments because the environment can be monitored
(Zikmund & Babin 2010). Also, laboratory experiments tend
to produce the same results if repeated with similar subjects,
leading to high internal validity. Generalisation of the results
obtained in a laboratory should, however, be interpreted
with caution. According to Malhotra (2007), if aspects of the
laboratory experiment differ from the situation for which
generalisations are made, external validity will be reduced.
In this article, the inuence of selected senses on the tastiness
of a brandy was investigated. As only sight, sound and smell
were investigated one can assume that in a eld environment
more artifacts will be present that could inuence consumers’
senses. Therefore, the generalisations made from results
obtained in this laboratory experiment should be viewed in
the context of reduced sensory experiences.
According to Assael (1995), the sense of taste can be an
elusive perception. Results of a study by Allison and Uhl
(1964) revealed that when consumers were asked to taste
three unlabelled brands of beer, all three brands were rated
similarly, and most respondents could also not identify
their regular brand. When the labels were shown, however,
respondents indicated a strong preference for their regular
brand. These results suggest that taste is not an objective
criterion, but that it is linked inextricably to the image of a
brand in the consumer’s mind (Assael 1995). Krishna (2012)
also states, ‘tasty may have nothing to do with the sense of
taste but may be largely dependent on the other senses’.
Research has shown that tastiness is based on perception and
not on the taste sense. For this reason, the researchers used
a measurement scale to measure the tastiness of the brandy.
More specically, the nine-point (i.e. like extremely, like very
much, like moderately, like slightly, neither like or dislike,
dislike slightly, dislike moderately, dislike very much,
dislike extremely) hedonic scale was used. The hedonic
scale is the most widely used scale for assessing the liking
of food (Schutz & Cardello 2001). For the purposes of this
research, respondents were prompted to indicate which term
best described the tastiness of the sample that was in front of
them using the hedonic scale. Thus, for the purposes of this
article, the following hypotheses were postulated:
H1: Smell inuences the tastiness of a brandy.
H2: Sound inuences the tastiness of a brandy.
H3: Sight inuences the tastiness of a brandy.
H4: Smell and sound inuence the tastiness of a brandy.
H5: Smell and sight inuence the tastiness of a brandy.
H6: Sound and sight inuence the tastiness of a brandy.
H7: Smell, sound and sight inuence the tastiness of a brandy.
As 24 respondents were required for each of the eight
conditions, plus one extra cell which served as a control
group, 240 randomly-selected spirit consumers participated
in the study. Of these, 43% were men and 36% were women.
Almost a third of the respondents were between the ages
of 27 and 35 (29.6%), about one third were between 35 and
50, and one third were older than 50. Just under half of the
respondents (45%) indicated that they were primarily brandy
drinkers, and that they consumed brandy at least once a
Klemz (2008) proposes that data reliability in experimental
marketing can be scrutinised by repeating one experimental
group and correlating the repeated group with the original
group. In this study, a repeat group was selected randomly
(enhanced smell) and the results obtained from the repeated
group correlated with the results of the original experimental
group (p < 0.05). The data obtained from the experiments
was therefore deemed reliable and valid. Levene’s test of
equality of error variances revealed that the error variance of
the dependent variable across the eight experimental groups
was equal (F  = 0.640; p > 0.05) and, therefore, an Anova
(analysis of variance) could be conducted. Table 2 depicts the
results of the main and interaction effects.
As depicted in Table 2, the results revealed no signicant
main effects differences. H1, H2 and H3 were therefore not
corroborated. From this, one can conclude that no signicant
differences in the tastiness of the brandy were noted with
regard to smell (F  = 0.031, p > 0.05), sight (F  = 0.002,
p > 0.05) and sound (F  = 0.350, p > 0.05). Therefore, sight,
smell and sound in isolation did not have any effect on the
tastiness of the brandy.
A full factorial experimental design allows researchers to
draw conclusions regarding the interaction effect of variables
(Montgomery 2009). In this article, the interaction of sound
and smell, sound and sight, sight and smell, as well as the
combination of sound, sight and smell on the consumer
experience was examined. From Table 2, one can conclude
that the results revealed no two-way interaction effects. H4,
H5 and H6 were therefore not supported. As also depicted in
Table 2, however, the results revealed a signicant three-way
interaction effect (F  = 4.490, p < 0.05). H7 was, therefore,
supported. To understand the three-way effect an LSD
(least signicant difference) post-hoc test was conducted
(Anderson, Sweeney & Williams 2012). The results are
depicted in Figure 1.
TABLE 2: Analysis of variance results.
Interacon eects df Mean square FSig.
Smell 1 0.103 0.031 0.860
Sound 1 1.159 0.350 0.555
Sight 1 0.007 0.002 0.965
Smell* sound 1 0.080 0.024 0.877
Smell* sight 1 0.700 0.211 0.646
Sound* sight 1 1.270 0.383 0.537
Smell* sound* sight 1 14.884 4.490 0.035*
Source: Author’s own construcon
*, Signicant at the 95% condence level; Dependent variable, tasness; df, disk free, Sig.,
Page 6 of 7
The results revealed that, in the case where respondents were
not required to smell a honey leaet, no pouring sounds were
playing in the background, and the colour of the brandy was
not visible to the respondents, the highest level of tastiness
was recorded (mean = 6.917). In other words, the three-way
interaction between sight, sound and smell revealed that
within a laboratory setting, respondents recorded higher
levels of tastiness under conditions where the booth was
quiet, no smelling of a leaet was required and the colour
of the brandy was not visible. In other words, in the instance
where no senses cues were given, respondents recorded
higher tastiness levels. It would seem that in the endeavour
to incorporate all the senses, respondents could have had
a sensory overload, which resulted in a reduced consumer
To conduct the research in an appropriate facility, approval
was granted by a leading alcohol manufacturer to use their
laboratory facilities. The research on which this article is based
was classied as holding low risk for potential respondents.
In other words, ‘the probability or magnitude of harm or
discomfort anticipated in the research (was) not greater in
itself than that ordinarily encountered in daily life’ (Business
Research 2013). Respondents were informed about the
nature of the research study and anonymity was guaranteed.
Informed consent was obtained by the respondents and these
respondents participated voluntarily in the experiment.
Discussion and conclusion
Researchers have called for more research to investigate
the connection between the senses (Krishna 2012;
Puccinelli et al. 2009). Wright (2006) and Krishna (2012)
concur that senses rarely operate in isolation. The results of
the study being reported here coincide with these ndings,
as sight, sound and smell by themselves did not reveal any
signicant differences in the tastiness of the brandy.
The results revealed further that consumers recorded higher
levels of tastiness when little disruptions were present.
Suhonon and Tengvall (2009) noted that the type of product
has signicant importance on the effect that the senses have on
the consumer experience, specically in the case of the alcohol
industry. Therefore, with regard to the research conducted
in this study, one should keep in mind that consumers
might have experienced sensory overload. Krishna (2012)
conrms this notion by stating that marketers could overload
consumers’ senses. Managers have become increasingly
aware of the need to create value for their customers in the
form of experiences. Applying sensory marketing seem to
be an easy, effortless way of doing so. However, research
revealed that marketers need to incorporate all the senses
to actually enhance consumers’ experiences. Incorporating
all the senses is not always possible and, if it is possible, is
usually costly. The results of the current study revealed that,
in their endeavour to incorporate all the senses, marketers
could overload consumers’ senses and, as a result, actually
reduce the consumer experience.
The study on which this article is based aimed to examine the
inuence of senses on consumer experience. Only the senses
of sight, smell and sound were investigated, and tastiness,
specically, was used to measure the consumer experience.
Future research could focus on incorporating all the senses.
Furthermore, as this experimental study was conducted in a
laboratory investigating the inuence of selected senses on
brandy, future research could be conducted in retail settings
where consumers are exposed to more sensory experiences.
Researchers could then focus on other product types, such
as wine, where consumers might have less strong opinions
(Suhonen & Tengvall 2009).
Wright (2006) argued that it is important to note that the
senses rarely operate in isolation. A consumer’s entire
understanding of the world is dened through his or her
senses, which are directly linked to his or her emotions: ‘the
more senses you appeal to, the stronger the message’. People
see and hear at the same time, or they touch and see or smell
and taste or see, touch and taste (Wright 2006). Lindstrom
(2005) suggested that the more positive the synergy between
the senses, the stronger the connection between sender and
receiver. It was also argued by Pine II and Gilmore (1998)
that the more senses a certain experience engages the more
effective and memorable the experience could be. The current
study, however, revealed that, for specic product categories,
consumers can experience sensory overloads which, and
as a result, reduce consumer experience. Therefore, within
the eld of sensory marketing, marketers should rethink the
use of sensory marketing strategies within certain industries
and might rather have to focus on other marketing strategies
(such as brand building) to positively inuence the sales of
Inspiration and some materials for this article were drawn
from a Stellenbosch University Marketing Masters (2009)
thesis by Ms K van Jaarsveld. The authors of the article were
the supervisors for the thesis.
sigh t: no
sound: no yes
six: Fish E agle
sigh t: yes
sound: no yes
Source: Author’s own construcon
FIGURE 1: Three-way interacon eect of sound, sight, smell.
sigh t: no
sound: no yes
six: Fish E agle
sigh t: yes
sound: no yes
sigh t: no
sound: no yes
six: Fish E agle
sigh t: yes
sound: no yes
sound: no yes sound: no yes
Page 7 of 7
The authors declare that they have no nancial or personal
relationship(s) which may have inappropriately inuenced
them in writing this article.
Equal contributions were made by both authors.
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