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Branding by the five senses: A sensory branding framework


Abstract and Figures

In the global consumption culture, the human senses are often proposed as useful concepts for rethinking branding in practice and theory. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the usefulness of a sensory branding framework grounded on sensory stimuli, sensory perceptions and sensory symbolism. Moreover, the role of societal culture in developing global branding sensory strategies is considered. Rsearch findings and conclusions on how brand managers can apply the framework are presented.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Bertil Hultén,
Linnaeus University, School of
Business and Economics, The
Marketing Department, 391 82
Kalmar, Sweden
Tel: +46-(0)772-28 80 00
In the contemporary global consumption
culture, the importance of how customers
perceive and experience a brand can be
illustrated with the successful brands Apple,
BMW, Coke and Starbucks. Especially, this
applies to how sensory strategies for smell,
sound, vision, taste or touch are used to
create multi-sensory brand-experiences in
enhancing brand identity as well as brand
image.1 This is an important issue, because
it is obvious that the ve human senses
should be the foundations of all global
multi-sensory brand-experiences.2 As the
founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz,
discusses how to create such experiences
in his book ‘Onward’:3
The loss of aroma — perhaps the most
powerful non-verbal signal we had in our
stores; ... Finally, the store’s design, so critical
to atmosphere, seemed to lack the warm,
cosy feeling of a neighbourhood gathering
place . . .Without these sensory triggers,
something about visiting a Starbucks
vanished . . . The unique sights, smells, and
charms that Starbucks introduced into
the marketplace dene our brand . . ., If
coee and people are our core, the overall
experience is our soul.
As a science, sensory marketing has
received great attention among academicians
as well as practitioners.4–9 One of the rea-
sons for the growing interest in sensory
marketing is that traditional advertising and
brand building do not suciently empha-
sise the need for multi-sensory brand-ex-
periences, which many individuals are in
fact looking for.10,11 A one-sided focus on
product attributes such as function, price
Branding by the ve senses:
Asensory branding framework
Received: 5th September, 2017
is Professor of Marketing, Linnaeus School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Sweden, and Head of
Sensory Marketing Research Group (SMRG). He is a recognised pioneer in sensory marketing research, and he
contributes to theory and practice in different ways. The research is based on eld experiments and observations in
cooperation with global brands. His work has appeared in academic journals and conference proceedings over the
years. His latest book, ‘Sensory Marketing: Theoretical and Empirical Grounds’, received the Swedish honorary award
‘The Marketing Book of the Year’ in 2015.
In the global consumption culture, the human senses are often proposed as useful concepts for
rethinking branding in practice and theory. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the usefulness of a
sensory branding framework grounded on sensory stimuli, sensory perceptions and sensory symbolism.
Moreover, the role of societal culture in developing global branding sensory strategies is considered.
Research ndings and conclusions on how brand managers can apply the framework are presented.
sensory branding framework, human senses, multi-sensory brand-experiences, sensory strategies, sensory
Bertil Hultén
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 1 11/21/17 2:35 PM
or quality has led to highly impersonal
brand-experiences, the value of which has
been questioned.
In sensory marketing, one of the starting
points is that brands should oer customers
multi-sensory brand-experiences in a
more emotional and personal way than
branding has so far done successfully.
By involving the ve senses, a more
individual and personal experience of a
brand is created on a deeper, emotional
level, where the individual’s lifestyle,
personal characteristics and social context
are essential drivers.12
Sensory marketing is dened here as
a rm’s service process that focuses
on sensory strategies and stimuli with
the goal of creating a multi-sensory
brand-experience, in supporting the
individual’s identity creation through
the mind and the ve senses to generate
consumer value, consumer experiences,
and the brand as an image.13
The model describes the relationships
between the brand, the ve senses and the
individual (Figure 1).
Forces of change, such as the ongoing
cultural value shift and digital technology,
place new demands on brands in creating
multi-sensory brand-experiences in a
global consumption culture. It is in this
context that global sensory branding
strategies should be understood.
Brands play a critical role in satisfying emo-
tional, intellectual and experience-based
needs on a personal, individual level
in a global consumption culture. The
consumption of global brands is particu-
larly important for generations X, Y and
Z, whether they are living in Australia,
Brazil, China, India, Japan, Sweden, the
UK or the USA.
It is well known that individual brand
consumption leads to the creation of
new self-images and identities. For many
people, consumption is linked to the
question of life’s meaning and the role that
one has as an individual within one’s circle
of friends or at work. This points to the
important role of consumption as a carrier
of personal values in satisfying one’s ego
Figure 1 The rm, the ve senses and the individual.
Source: Hultén (2015) ‘Sensory Marketing: Theoretical and Empirical Grounds’, Routledge, New York, p. 107.
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 2 11/21/17 2:35 PM
Branding By the five senses
and need for self-fullment in life, as an
expression of personal joy and happiness.
The individual’s quest for self-fullment,
which is expressed through new
consumption patterns of brands, is the
primary personal driving force behind
individualisation as lifestyle. This need is
particularly evident in areas with strong
ties to the individual’s physical and
mental status, such as food, environmental
concern, health, medical care, leisure,
recreation, sustainability, cultural services
or education.
If shopping and consumption are
carriers of personal values, then, for many
individuals, this means that various brands
are a critical part of their identity creation,
which otherwise would not have been
possible. Identity creation helps individuals
to create their own unique identity and
image with the aid of brands that are cur-
rently available on a global level. Through
symbolic content, brands can change rap-
idly and can simply disappear when not
in agreement with the identity creation
towards which many individuals strive.
The nal personal driving force con-
nected to individualisation as a lifestyle
consists of the individual’s pursuit of
sensory experiences. This occurs through
the ve senses and is controlled by both
rational as well as emotional factors in all
individuals. The drive towards a sensory
experience is aected by the individual’s
need for self-fullment and his/her
quest for identity creation, which means
that the individual is involved, active
and creative through feelings, fantasies
Accordingly, individualisation as a life-
style can be said to be the ultimate expres-
sion of contemporary global consumption
culture, where shopping and consumption
for many individuals play a crucial role in
creating new identities and self-images on
a personal level.
Individuals become emotionally and cog-
nitively aected by positive and negative
sensory experiences in purchase and con-
sumption processes.14,15 In a global con-
sumption culture, rms should develop
sensory branding strategies, dened as
a deliberate marketing strategy of a company’s
service process to create a sensory experience
using sensory stimuli, which addresses and
attracts a special sense or multiple senses
simultaneously in an individual.16
By applying a visual sensory strategy, a
brand’s identity is expressed visually and
becomes a distinguishing feature. This
is a common occurrence and is often
expressed through advertising, design and
style or by visual and verbal identities in
the advertising context, as well as through
electronic media, websites or people. With
the help of an auditory sensory strategy, a
brand’s identity can be expressed in the
form of sound and become a distinguish-
ing feature. It is common to attract atten-
tion and arouse consumers’ feelings for
various products and services via music,
voices or other sounds. With the help of
an olfactory sensory strategy, a brand’s identity
can be expressed atmospherically, where
the role of scent is to create awareness and
the fragrance component is considered
part of the identity. By applying a tactile
sensory strategy, the role of touch is to cre-
ate sensory experiences. Finally, by using a
taste sensory strategy, a brand’s identity can
be expressed gastronomically/aesthetically,
where the role of taste is to create mem-
orable sensory experiences. In daily life,
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 3 11/21/17 2:35 PM
consumers give meaning to dierent types
of sensory experiences, whether they are
perceived as pleasant or unpleasant, which
means that there is an emotional as well as
a cognitive response.
Sensory branding concerns how a brand
uses the ve senses to create brand iden-
tity and position the brand at an indi-
vidual level, resulting in brand image.
Accordingly, the question arises as to what
marketing contexts this applies, and what
may be considered as the characteristics of
each of the ve senses.
A sensory branding model incorporates
societal culture (S), service environment
(E) and brand (B) as important factors
(Figure 2).17 The model shows how sen-
sory branding strategies might aect
consumers’ aective and cognitive reac-
tions, as well as their purchase behaviour,
through preferences, stimuli, perception
and symbolism. Therefore, it is particularly
important for global brands to consider
sensory branding strategies for enhancing
long-term protability, long-term rela-
tionships and a sustainable brand image.
Following the model, the importance of
societal culture will be discussed in the
following in relation to the human senses
within a sensory branding framework. A
particular focus will be placed on the uni-
versality of the senses for brands, on devel-
oping global sensory strategies, and on the
major challenges and obstacles, as well as
the dierences and similarities.
It is common knowledge that the ve
senses are the sources of individual expe-
riences, emotions, cognitions and behav-
iours in relation to global brands. Our
brain analyses sensory inputs, such as sen-
sory stimuli from a brand, and converts
Figure 2 Sensory branding model.
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 4 11/21/17 2:35 PM
Branding By the five senses
them into sensory perceptions that form
the basis for an individual decision on
how to act in a certain situation. An indi-
vidual interprets and experiences sensory
stimuli consciously or unconsciously, in a
completely subjective manner, in the con-
text of individualisation as a lifestyle.
Anthropologists claim that sensory per-
ception is culturally specic and can be
expressed as ‘cultural as well as physical
acts’.18 Nonliterate societies have mostly
been governed by words and sound, in
contrast to literate societies governed by
experiencing words visually, dominated
by vision. But these perceptions can often
take place in more than one way, as several
senses often interact together in providing
a multi-sensory brand-experience.19
Evidence from research states that indi-
vidual emotions and feelings for a brand,
based on positive or negative valence,
are classied in essentially the same way
in dierent cultures. This means that, for
instance, enthusiasm and relaxation have
the same meaning across cultural bound-
aries. It is also claimed that these emo-
tions and feelings impact on attitudes and
evaluations of a brand, regardless of cul-
ture. There also seems to be a connection
between emotions and learning, in the
sense that the stronger the emotion for
a brand, the greater the likelihood that
learning will take place about the brand.
In a global consumption culture, this
means that evoking emotions and feelings
for a brand is of the utmost importance.
For brand managers, sensory percep-
tions and emotions are critical in under-
standing the content and deeper meaning
of societal cultures in developing global
sensory branding strategies. Already
in 2011, executives of Chinese and
non-Chinese companies in a Forbes survey
expressed their belief that brand percep-
tion was one of the three most frequently
cited goals for the next ve to ten years.
This highlights the balance between being
a global brand and being part of the soci-
etal local culture at the same time.
Visual perceptions
As vision is the dominant sense, visual
stimuli such as colour, design, graphics,
lighting and interior design impact on
visual perception of brands in relation to
product choice, purchase and consump-
tion. When it comes to visual perception,
each individual has his/her unique visual
preferences related to the specic culture.
There are cultural dierences between
population groups concerning visual per-
ception of objects/places. Westerners seem
to pay more attention to whole objects,
while people from South-east Asia tend
to pay more attention to focal objects and
the background elements. It seems that
visual objects are perceived dierently
between Americans and Chinese, which
depends in part on how the eyes are xed
on the object:20
Chinese car buyers focus more on
prestigious details such as the logotype on
the front or on the sides — of premium
brand cars like Audi, BMW or Mercedes
Benz. This contrasts with American or
European buyers who focus on the whole
design of a car, so that the details on the
sides and the front are of minor interest at
rst glance.
Also, people from South-east Asia
are better than the Americans at detect-
ing colour changes in coloured blocks,
including a wider area. On the other
hand, Americans more easily detect col-
our changes in the middle of a screen or
an image.
Concerning colour preferences, there
is a general preference for blue in all
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 5 11/21/17 2:35 PM
cultures, and prominent colour preferences
probably attract stronger feelings. It seems
that the choice of colour is determined
by dominant cultural norms. For instance,
one prominent colour such as red prevails
in one culture but not in another, such as
Christmas in Germany and Sweden. In
China, red is associated with the Chinese
New Year, while the Western New Year
does not have a specic colour. The same
goes for black and orange, which are asso-
ciated with Halloween. It is possible to
nd arguments supporting both similari-
ties and dierences among cultures.
When it comes to letters, words and
symbols, Chinese people evaluate a brand
name based on visual attractiveness. This
is dierent from British consumers, who
instead assess a brand name more according
to how it sounds. The brand name of Volvo
in Chinese is ‘wo’erwo’, which sounds
troublesome when it comes to brand
identity. Furthermore, it is important that
the writing style of a certain brand name
should be adapted to a feminine style for a
feminine product, and not vice versa.
Nonetheless, for Chinese people, it
is not enough that a brand name looks
good; it must also appeal to the Chinese
way of thinking. This means that simple,
memorable logos and names are preferred.
Furthermore, it is important that names,
logos and other visual elements, for exam-
ple, in advertising and campaign promo-
tions, constitute a coherent whole.
When it comes to the Internet, there
are cultural dierences in terms of visual
perceptions and preferences. People from
Asia and from Latin and South America
have similar perceptions of and satisfaction
with the design of various websites, but
people from Europe and North America
have another pattern altogether. In addi-
tion, women in some cultures have a wider
range of visual preferences regarding the
attributes of a website compared with men.
Sound perceptions
It is evident that auditory stimuli such
as jingles, music, voice, words and sound
brand impact on our perceptions in rela-
tion to credibility and trust, positive feel-
ings, purchasing and time of stay. A general
view is that music reminds many people of
the world they live in and their everyday
life, expressed in a range from the deepest
sadness to true happiness.21 It is assumed
in classical conditioning that music evokes
a mood that is directly transferable to a
It is well known that auditory stimuli,
such as music, words or voices, touch an
individual at a deeper emotional level than
visual or tactile stimuli. A common belief is
that stimuli of this kind have a more rapid
and intense inuence on sound percep-
tions than visual stimuli. An individual’s
personality is inuenced by music prefer-
ences, and music contributes to identity
creation among generations X, Y and Z.
Moreover, there is a relationship between
music preferences and social class, indicat-
ing that ‘intellectual music genres’ such as
classical music or orchestral music are pre-
ferred by people with higher educational
On the other hand, people from the
working class with low educational lev-
els have a preference for ‘non-intellectual’
music, such genres as country, gospel
or rap. A link exists between masculin-
ity and ‘hard’-sounding music, and, on
the other hand, between femininity and
‘soft’-sounding music. This has implica-
tions for how music and songs are per-
ceived by women and men, with soft
music for women being associated with
emotions and relationships, whereas hard
music is associated with male aggression,
domination and rebellion.
Links between music and emotions
may be considered universal, and thus exist
regardless of cultural belonging.22 But in
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 6 11/21/17 2:35 PM
Branding By the five senses
each societal culture, music and voices are
important for group emotions and expe-
riences. There are strong arguments that
some links between music and emotions
exist regardless of cultural belonging, but,
on the other hand, the choice of music
genres and songs is culturally dependent.
In the Swedish culture, the celebration
of midsummer in June with its familiar
songs, music tempo, specic instruments
and joyful tunes expresses the feelings of
the bright summer. Often, fast music is
seen as happier than slow music, with a
slow tempo naturally conveying melan-
choly or sadness.
It is suggested that dierent melodies
have a specic emotional quality, and that
they are created to become more of an
emotional language. In Western cultures,
material happiness has come to establish
certain music styles such as jazz and pop-
ular music, while more mournful music
belongs to other societal cultures.
When it comes to words formed by
sound, no relationship has been estab-
lished between how a word sounds and
its meaning for us in terms of sound
symbolism. The sound embedded in a
word, however, might contribute to an
individual’s understanding of the word.
Through sound symbolism, many people
can infer which product benets global
brands may have. For example, in China,
the English word ‘daqi’ has been created
as a way to express what a car brand
should be and look like. One thing that
the word has in common in both cultures
seems to be the harmony of the car and
space, including indicators of design and
shape. The same meaning seems to pre-
vail among luxury brands like Mercedes
Benz S or Jaguar XJL, as well as mass
market brands like the Ford Focus and
Qoros 3. In contrast, Americans like to
use the word ‘harsh’ in expressing their
views of luxury models.
Accordingly, language, words and sound
evidently interact in a natural way in dif-
ferent societal cultures in shaping a unique
sound experience for global brands.
Smell perceptions
Olfactory stimuli like scents are often
associated with intensity, product con-
gruence and sex, which impact on design,
price and quality perceptions, purchase
and time of stay for people. Individuals
have their own unique scent identity and
an aective judgment in relation to dier-
ent fragrances, aecting a person’s mood
in either a positive or a negative way,
indicating an ability to provide a sensory
Scents create a personalised meaning
for individuals and have a tendency to
be associated with events, environments,
experiences, objects, items and other peo-
ple. Positive emotions, such as being happy
or in love, are associated with pleasant
scents, whereas negative emotions, such as
feeling lonely or being sad, are associated
with unpleasant scents. In addition, scent
characteristics impact highly on individ-
ual associations, learning and memories
because of emotions.23 But scents also
impact on individual cognitive behaviour
when scents are present in service envi-
ronments, resulting in more creativity and
problem solving. Moreover, scents should
be considered as a strong stimulus, because
memory of scents lasts longer than, for
example, visual memories.
Smell perceptions are strongly linked
to gastronomic taste perceptions, which
generate up to 80 per cent of an indi-
vidual’s taste perception. For brands like
Coca-Cola and Sprite, scents play a crucial
role in taste perceptions for creating a pos-
itive brand experience.
When it comes to how universal smell
perceptions are, it is evident that scent
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 7 11/21/17 2:35 PM
preferences dier between societal cul-
tures. There are signicant dierences in
how people like or dislike scents. This
relates to pleasant scents like the smell
of bread, coee or perfume, as well as
to essentially unpleasant doors like body
sweat, old food and garbage. In Western
Europe, the smell of cheese is very pop-
ular, but the same smell is often perceived
as a rotten door in South-east Asia. In the
USA and Europe, around 70–90 per cent
of car buyers believe that scent is impor-
tant in buying a car. Americans in particu-
lar focus on the new smell of a car and
like it, but very few people know what the
smell signies. In China, most car buyers
dislike the new smell of a car and prefer its
own scent, so an unpleasant interior odour
is not a problem. The French car producer
Citroën oers customers a choice between
dierent scents for the car’s interior in an
attempt to create a pleasant atmosphere.
Moreover, it is evident that in a low
emotional context, as in a clean place such
as a hospital, scent associations seem to
be rather universal. Among cultures, the
scent of such a room is associated with air
sprays, citrus and natural fragrances. On
the other hand, in a highly emotional con-
text, such as Christmas, associations seem
to be linked more to one’s own culture,
for example, Christmas and the Chinese
New Year.24 There can be no doubt that
emotions play an important role when
people perceive and experience dier-
ent scents related to brands and service
Touch stimuli such as form, material,
surface, texture and weight impact on
attitudes and behaviour, feelings of own-
ership, physical/psychological interaction
and willingness to pay more. It is evident
that when a branded item is touched,
information is transmitted that conveys a
feeling for the actual brand.
There are individual dierences in
touching, and some individuals always
prefer to touch a brand before purchas-
ing it. Such individuals, who have a higher
need for touch (NFT), have stronger pref-
erences based on their motivation com-
pared with others with lower NFT.25 In
the latter case, brands are examined mainly
by sight and not by touch. Moreover, indi-
vidual dierences exist in terms of how
touching and the amount of touching
inuence the individual in question.
People use their ability to touch and
examine things to get a feeling for some-
thing by either individually touching or
being touched by a brand. It is clear that a
brand is aected if customers can touch a
product and receive sensory information.
The desire to touch can also be seen as
problem solving and, at the same time,
as fun, exciting and creating joy through
positive brand experiences. It is evident
that positive aective reactions to feeling
and touching a product inuence people’s
attitudes and buying behaviour, as in the
following example:
Apple stores are designed to attract
customers through a futuristic sensory
aesthetic abounding in glass and steel, with
uncluttered walls and surfaces . . . Apple
sales sta are trained to be warm but not
pushy, and to encourage visitors to touch
and interact with the products on display.
Customers, indeed, are invited to think of
the store as a play space. As a result, Apple
stores serve as a sensory embodiment and
promotion of the Apple brand as much as
(if not more than) they serve as sites for
retailing electronics.26
Many people use touch to evaluate
products, and thus become frustrated
when they are denied the opportunity to
do so.27 It is also a common opinion that
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 8 11/21/17 2:35 PM
Branding By the five senses
most people will probably not buy a prod-
uct if it does not match their expectations
of how it will feel in the hand or the upper
body. One out of three buyers of mobile
phones believes that it is more important
to evaluate how the brand feels in one’s
hand than to evaluate how it looks. It is
also thought that the need to get to know
the products is irresistible and is present in
both children and adults.
It is common for touch to symbolise
dierent emotional and human values in
various dierent cultures.
Taste perceptions
Gastronomic and aesthetic taste are indi-
vidual and personal, which means that
there is no universal taste. Many people
also develop aesthetic tastes, often called
‘personal style’. There is no one single idea
of taste that is shared by everyone.
For taste perceptions, the societal cul-
ture to which people belong has a strong
impact on individual taste preferences.
Starbucks is a good example of how to
adapt to local tastes. When it launches in
a new country, the company sets about
researching culture, history and local
tastes before partnering with local cof-
fee companies and building stores. These
then serve the needs of locals without
compromising the signature brand of the
Seattle-founded coee store.
Aesthetic and gastronomic stimuli such
as interplay, presentation and environ-
ment impact on design, price and qual-
ity perceptions, purchase quantity and
time of stay. In this sense, the design of
Starbucks coee stores focuses on all the
three elements of interplay, presentation
and environment.
Moreover, there seem to be no general
taste preferences for food or dishes in dif-
ferent cultures. As an example of the global
challenge to local cultures, McDonald’s
has developed a new service for customers
in Asia to adapt to their taste perceptions.
The service allows customers to personal-
ise gourmet burgers with such ingredients
as Angus beef patties and grilled pineapple
rings. The idea is to let the customer con-
trol the taste experience by mixing and
matching ingredients.
Physical taste, however, interacts with the
olfactory and tactile senses, oering dier-
ent taste perceptions for individuals. In this
regard, colours seem to have a signicant
inuence on the taste experience. Even
though a fruit drink can be identied
by its aroma, people may not recognise
it, but when the colour of the drink is
added, everybody can recognise the brand.
Accordingly, colour might distinguish the
avours of a drink, demonstrating how
aesthetic stimuli impact on taste percep-
tions. In this way, vision interacts with
Moreover, when it comes to the
sense of sound, there is interplay with
taste perceptions. Zampini and Spence28
demonstrated that the frequency and
sound level when chewing potato chips
inuenced the taste perceptions of the
potato chips’ quality. It is evident that
a positive taste experience of eating
and drinking is about symbiosis and
interactions with other senses.
Multi-sensory perceptions
In a global consumption culture with
generations X, Y and Z as target groups,
it is evident that individuals use more
than one sense in their multi-sensory
brand-experiences. The feeling of hold-
ing an iPhone in one’s hand together with
looking at it oers multi-sensory inter-
play with its impact on cognitions, emo-
tions and purchase behaviour. Thus, it is
not enough to analyse the senses in isola-
tion; instead, the focus should be on what
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 9 11/21/17 2:35 PM
senses work best together in providing
multi-sensory perceptions of a particular
Culturally, dierences exist regard-
ing multi-sensory perceptions related to
the individual senses, so it is necessary to
know how each sense works in dierent
cultures in terms of perceptions. The lat-
est Coca-Cola global campaign, ‘Taste the
Feeling’, illustrates this:
‘Taste the Feeling’ is anchored in compelling
visual storytelling through more than
hundreds of images ... Each shot combines
familiar Coca-Cola icons, like the contour
glass bottle and red disk, with elements
of both intimacy and mystery . . . Music
plays a key role in all ‘Taste the Feeling’
communications. A song produced by artist
and producer Avicii and featuring soulful
singer Conrad Sewell serves as the ‘Taste of
Feeling’ campaign anthem ... It includes a
new audio signature inspired by the sounds
of enjoying a Coca-Cola — the pop of the
cap, the zz and, ultimately, refreshment ...
Coca-Cola is central to each part; without
it, there is no story.29
In this case, the interplay between vision
and hearing is quite clear, while tasting
becomes the connotation of the symbolic
content of Coca-Cola. One might assume
that few people have never tested Coke.
In the global car industry, multi-sensory
perception is the focus in developing pre-
mium brands, where vision, sound, smell,
touch and aesthetic taste are combined in
creating multi-sensory brand-experiences.
Among Chinese car buyers, some of the
most important sensory attributes relate
to design and colour, as well as sound, in
addition to spare parts, brand image, price
and durability, in terms of building global
brand strategies. For instance, visual per-
ception is built upon the needs for social
status and wealth, where design and col-
our play prominent roles.
Finally, service environments such as cit-
ies, destinations, hotels, casinos, restaurants,
retail stores and tourist sites cover several
senses.30 Sensory strategies and stimuli
related to each of the senses play promi-
nent roles in providing exciting and mem-
orable multi-sensory brand-experiences.
So far, little is known about cultural dif-
ferences regarding multi-sensory percep-
tions, and more research is clearly needed.
But, as discussed earlier, both dierences
and similarities apply to individual senses,
which should be considered in developing
sensory strategies.
Emotions are universal
Sensory branding strategies in a global
consumption culture should address emo-
tions, which are universal in nature across
dierent societal cultures. On the other
hand, sensory perceptions are culturally
specic and should be considered as such
in developing branding strategies. The
fact that emotions are universal opens up
opportunities for brand managers in terms
of attracting individuals through creating
multi-sensory brand-experiences.
Societal cultures are different
Sensory perceptions are culturally dier-
ent in relation to visual, sound, smell and
taste perceptions. In this regard, touch
perceptions are universal and do not dif-
fer across cultural boundaries. Therefore,
brand managers developing sensory
branding strategies should focus on the
content and meaning of the local culture.
Even though the brand is global in
terms of such product characteristics
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 10 11/21/17 2:35 PM
Branding By the five senses
as function, price and quality, the brand
identity should contain local culturally
based sensory characteristics. For brand
managers, this means creating a person-
alised oer of a brand that goes beyond
existing global branding. As such, Europe
and the USA have a lot in common, in
contrast to Asia and Latin America.
Global sensory branding isareality
It is evident that global sensory brand-
ing meets the needs for identity creation
and self-fullment among individuals in
a global consumption culture. There are
innite combinations of sensory stim-
uli, perceptions and symbolism that can
be used to overcome the diculties of
making a global brand suciently local.
The challenge for brand managers is to
research local cultures to nd the right
combination. The question for brand
managers is not when to do research, but
how to do it and what kinds of challenges
and obstacles sensory branding can over-
come in reality.
(1) Hultén, B. (2011) ‘Sensory marketing: The
multi-sensory brand experience concept’,
European Business Review, Vol. 23, No. 3,
(2) Brakus, J., Schmitt, B. and Zarantonello, L.
(2009) ‘Brand experience: What is it? How is
it measured? Does it aect loyalty?’ Journal of
Marketing, Vol. 73, No. 3, pp. 52–68.
(3) Schultz, H. (2011) ‘Onward: How Starbucks
Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul and
Won’, Rodale, New York.
(4) Achrol, R. S. and Kotler, P. (2012) ‘Frontiers
of the marketing paradigm in the third
millennium’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science, Vol. 40, pp. 35–52.
(5) Hultén, B., Broweus, N. and van Dijk, M. (2009)
‘Sensory Marketing’, Palgrave Macmillan,
(6) Hultén, B. (2015) ‘Sensory Marketing:
Theoretical and Empirical Grounds’, Routledge,
New York.
(7) Krishna, A. (ed.) (2010) ‘Sensory Marketing:
Research on the Sensuality of Products’, Taylor
and Francis Group, New York.
(8) Krishna, A. (2012) ‘An integrative review of
sensory marketing: Engaging the senses to aect
perception, judgment and behaviour’, Journal of
Consumer Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 3,pp. 332–351.
(9) Lindstrom, M. (2005), ‘Brand Sense’, Free Press,
New York.
(10) Holbrook, M. B. and Hirschman, E. C. (1982)
‘The experiential aspects of consumption:
Consumer fantasies, feelings, and fun’, Journal of
Consumer Research, Vol. 9, pp. 132–140.
(11) Spence, C., Puccinelli, N. M., Grewal, D. and
Roggeveen, A. L. (2014) ‘Store atmospherics:
A multisensory perspective’, Psychology and
Marketing, Vol. 31, No. 7, pp. 472–488.
(12) Ibid, ref. 6 above.
(13) Ibid, ref. 6 above, p. 106.
(14) Ibid, ref. 7 above.
(15) Ibid, ref. 11 above.
(16) Ibid, ref. 6 above.
(17) Ibid, ref. 6 above.
(18) Classen, C. (2012) ‘The Deepest Sense: A
Cultural History of Touch’, University of Illinois
Press, Urban, Chicago and Springeld.
(19) Ibid, ref. 1 above.
(20) Chua, H. F., Boland, J. E. and Nisbett, R. E.
(2005) ‘Cultural variation in eye movements
during scene perception’, Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences of the United States of
America, Vol. 102, No. 35, pp. 12629–12633.
(21) Perlmutter, K. and Bradshaw, N. (2016)
‘Addressing today’s top brand challenges with
sonic identity’, Journal of Brand Strategy, Vol . 5,
No. 2, pp.1–8.
(22) DeNora, T. (2001) ‘Aesthetic agency and musical
practice: New directions in the sociology of
music and emotion’, in: Juslin, P. N. and Sloboda,
J. A. (eds). ‘Music and Emotion: Theory and
Research’, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp.
(23) Herz, R. S. (2010) ‘The emotional, cognitive,
and biological basics of olfaction: Implications
and considerations for scent marketing’, in:
Krishna, A. (ed.). ‘Sensory Marketing: Research
on the Sensuality of Products’, Routledge,
(24) Lwin, M. O. and Wijaya, M. (2010) ‘Do scents
evoke the same feelings across cultures?
Exploring the role of emotions’, in: Krishna,
A. (ed.). ‘Sensory Marketing: Research on the
Sensuality of Products’, Routledge, New York.
(25) Peck, J. and Childers, T. L. (2003) ‘To have and
to hold: The inuence of haptic information on
product judgments’, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 67,
pp. 35–48.
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(26) Howes, D. and Classen, C. (2014) ‘Ways of
Sensing; Understanding the Senses in Society’,
Routledge, New York.
(27) Citrin, A. V., Stern, D. E., Spangenberg, E. R. and
Clark, M. J. (2003) ‘Consumer need for tactile
input: An internet retail challenge’, Journal of
Business Research, Vol. 56, No. 11, pp. 915–922.
(28) Zampini, M. and Spence, C. (2004) ‘The role
of auditory cues in modulating the perceived
crispness and staleness of potato chips’, Journal of
Sensory Science, Vol. 19, pp. 347–363.
(29) Moye, J. (2016) ‘Live from Paris: Coca-Cola
leaders share new marketing strategy and creative
with international media’, 19th January, available
/live-from-paris (accessed 5th April, 2017).
(30) Krishna, A. (2013), ‘Customer Sense’, Palgrave
Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Hulten_JBS_6-3.indd 12 11/21/17 2:35 PM
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The smartphone industry has become a lucrative market attracting new entrants and resulting in an intense competition in the industry. In order for smartphones companies to sustain within the industry, it is essential for them to understand how consumers feel and experience with their products. It is critical to examine customer experience as it can influence consumers’ perceived value of a product. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationships between five dimensions of customer experience and perceived value and brand loyalty in the mobile phone context. The results show that the sense, feel, act, and relate experience are significantly related to perceived value, which in turn, positively related to brand loyalty. Implications of the research findings are discussed.
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Haptic information, or information attained through touch by the hands, is important for the evaluation of products that vary in terms of material properties related to texture, hardness, temperature, and weight. The authors develop and propose a conceptual framework to illustrate that salience of haptic information differs significantly across products, consumers, and situations. The authors use two experiments to assess how these factors interact to impair or enhance the acquisition and use of haptic information. Barriers to touch, such as a retail display case, can inhibit the use of haptic information and consequently decrease confidence in product evaluations and increase the frustration level of consumers who are more motivated to touch products. In addition, written descriptions and visual depictions of products can partially enhance acquisition of certain types of touch information. The authors synthesize the results of these studies and discuss implications for the effect of haptic information for Internet and other nonstore retailing as well as for traditional retailers.
From the softest caress to the harshest blow, touch lies at the heart of our experience of the world. Now, for the first time, this deepest of senses is the subject of an extensive historical exploration. This book fleshes out our understanding of the past with explorations of lived experiences of embodiment from the Middle Ages to modernity. This approach to history makes it possible to foreground the tactile foundations of Western culture—the ways in which feelings shaped society. This book explores a variety of tactile realms; including the feel of the medieval city; the tactile appeal of relics; the social histories of pain, pleasure, and affection; the bonds of touch between humans and animals; the strenuous excitement of sports such as wrestling and jousting; and the sensuous attractions of consumer culture. The book delves into a range of vital issues, from the uses—and prohibitions—of touch in social interaction to the disciplining of the body by the modern state, from the changing feel of the urban landscape to the technologization of touch in modernity. Through poignant descriptions of the healing power of a medieval king's hand or the grueling conditions of a nineteenth-century prison, we find that history, far from being a dry and lifeless subject, touches us to the quick.
Ways of Sensing is a stimulating exploration of the cultural, historical and political dimensions of the world of the senses. The book spans a wide range of settings and makes comparisons between different cultures and epochs, revealing the power and diversity of sensory expressions across time and space. The chapters reflect on topics such as the tactile appeal of medieval art, the healing power of Navajo sand paintings, the aesthetic blight of the modern hospital, the role of the senses in the courtroom, and the branding of sensations in the marketplace. Howes and Classen consider how political issues such as nationalism, gender equality and the treatment of minority groups are shaped by sensory practices and metaphors. They also reveal how the phenomenon of synaesthesia, or mingling of the senses, can be seen as not simply a neurological condition but a vital cultural mode of creating social and cosmic interconnections. Written by leading scholars in the field, Ways of Sensing provides readers with a valuable and engaging introduction to the life of the senses in society.
What is sensory marketing and why does it matter? This book offers a global view of the use of senses in marketing strategy based on consumers' perception and behavior. Integrating the company constraints and classical approaches of branding and communication, the author presents sensory marketing as an emergent marketing paradigm in theory and practice. With a comprehensive historical introduction, this book will be an important contribution that will provide useful Reading for marketing scholars and consumer psychologists across the World.
The book covers the ongoing shift from mass-marketing and micro-marketing to sensory marketing in terms of the increased individualization in the contemporary society. It shows the importance in reaching the individuals' five senses at a deeper level than traditional marketing theories do. © Bertil Hultén, Niklas Broweus & Marcus van Dijk, 2009. All rights reserved.
Store atmospherics affect consumer behavior. This message has created a revolution in sensory marketing techniques, such that across virtually every product category, retailers and manufacturers seek to influence the consumer's “sensory experience.” The key question is how should a company design its multisensory atmospherics in store to ensure that the return on its investment is worthwhile? This paper reviews the scientific evidence related to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory aspects of the store environment and their influence on the consumer's shopping behavior. The findings emphasize the need for further research to address how the multisensory retail environment shapes customer experience and shopping behavior.
I define “sensory marketing” as “marketing that engages the consumers' senses and affects their perception, judgment and behavior.” From a managerial perspective, sensory marketing can be used to create subconscious triggers that characterize consumer perceptions of abstract notions of the product (e.g., its sophistication or quality). Given the gamut of explicit marketing appeals made to consumers every day, subconscious triggers which appeal to the basic senses may be a more efficient way to engage consumers. Also, these sensory triggers may result in consumers' self-generation of (desirable) brand attributes, rather than those verbally provided by the advertiser. The understanding of these sensory triggers implies an understanding of sensation and perception as it applies to consumer behavior—this is the research perspective of sensory marketing. This review article presents an overview of research on sensory perception. The review also points out areas where little research has been done, so that each additional paper has a greater chance of making a bigger difference and sparking further research. It is quite apparent from the review that there still remains tremendous need for research within the domain of sensory marketing—research that can be very impactful.
We investigated whether the perception of the crispness and staleness of potato chips can be affected by modifying the sounds produced during the biting action. Participants in our study bit into potato chips with their front teeth while rating either their crispness or freshness using a computer-based visual analog scale. The results demonstrate that the perception of both the crispness and staleness was systematically altered by varying the loudness and/or frequency composition of the auditory feedback elicited during the biting action. The potato chips were perceived as being both crisper and fresher when either the overall sound level was increased, or when just the high frequency sounds (in the range of 2 kHz−20 kHz) were selectively amplified. These results highlight the significant role that auditory cues can play in modulating the perception and evaluation of foodstuffs (despite the fact that consumers are often unaware of the influence of such auditory cues). The paradigm reported here also provides a novel empiric methodology for assessing such multisensory contributions to food perception.