Every day, our unconscious mind dictates our action. As customers, we make unconscious purchase decisions guided by emotion, intuition and gut feeling. In marketing, these purchase decisions and choices can be influenced in order to control the sacred first impression. Marketing stimuli manipulates our 5 senses pushing and pulling us to certain products or brands. Needless to say, businesses which take advantage of marketing stimuli increase sales opportunities.

This blog illustrates ways we can market to customer’s 5 senses and take full advantage of marketing stimuli to transform business practices.

1 Sight

As a visual marketing agency, we believe in the power of visuals to extricate brands from the competition. The first impression is everything. Design can have a major impact on our impression of a business. Typography can curate an impression of a product or business governing customer’s understanding of brand values and personality. Stylish serif typefaces convey luxury, indulgence, and quality. Most hotels insert these font styles nto their advertising to transmit their brand quality to customers - “5-star getaway”.

In retail, we also witness expensive items with packaging and advertising layered in serif typefaces. I know some people remain dubious questioning how a small detail like type makes a difference. However, you must remember we make snap judgements and make instant impressions based on stimuli presented. Often we are not even conscious of this. Look at any font you see and picture what it represents in your mind. Notice the serif style in the Cadbury logo, luxury chocolates, and expensive wines. Why font’s matter by Sarah Hyndman is an excellent book for those wishing to explore the impact of type further.

Sight also concerns store design and layout. This highlights the importance of cleanliness and an impeccable representation of a company’s visual appearance to the customer. Store layouts can also be created to guide customers and traffic flow to certain areas throughout the store. At Tesco stores notice how the off-licence and sweets are located at the back of the store. This makes customers travel through the whole store opening them up to cross-selling and impulse purchasing. A & F have dark stores conveying elegance, mystery, and uniqueness. It feels like you’re e entering a secret club or society.

2 Smell

Smell is another tenet of marketing stimuli which plays an important role in our purchase choices. Some coffee shops have a ventilation system outside the café emitting the scent of coffee to passers-by enticing store entry. In supermarkets, the smell of fresh bread often permeates throughout the story creating an impression of freshness and a homely atmosphere.

A & F spray perfume on all their clothes heightening their appeal providing a sense of decadence. As a result, entering A & F is a unique experience compared to most clothing stores.

3 Sound

Ever watched a scary movie with the sound off? It’s just not the same. No fear. No emotion. It becomes almost comedic as you notice the little glitches and sub-standard acting. Sound creates drama and stirs emotional responses in our body. A gym without music is boring. You need high-tempo aggressive sound to push your body to its limits. Studies even show music can improve our levels of happiness.

This marketing stimulus has a massive impact on consumer behavior. Happier customers will spend more freely. Quick tempo music can encourage people to make impulse purchases pushing them to traverse the store swiftly. They use this technique in clothing stores in particular as it also conveys youth and trendiness.

In supermarkets, the opposite approach is taken. They use slower and upbeat tones inciting feel good emotions keeping them in the store longer. Classical music is also played in wine sections to create a decor of elegance and class. In advertising dramatic and positive music tracks are played over ads to grab people’s attention and create a strong brand impression.

4 Touch

As people, we like to physically feel things before we buy them. We like to envision what the experience will be like if we buy the product. This is why car dealerships offer a test drive of a product.

At Apple stores, they allow you to use all the products. You can surf the internet, play games, and try out the technology. This is why Steve Jobs put so much effort into the product’s packaging as it’s another important piece of marketing stimuli which is part of the purchase experience. Customers love to unwrap the product almost like a present and touch their new product for the first time.

When you put a product in people’s hands, then you are priming them making it harder to put the product back. Look at little kids when they are in the terrible twos stage. Whatever they take they declare “It’s mine” and refuse to give it back. In essence, we mirror this response as adults as well.

5 Taste

In retail free food sampling can be a powerful way to drive impulse purchases. It encourages customers to try products they’ve never tried before leading to increased basket spend. When a person tastes a free sample they also subconsciously feel guilty if they don’t follow through and buy it.

In addition, taste also improves customers mood as they’re getting something for free. In this way, it builds trust with the company cultivating a perception of a philanthropic organization that gives food away to their customer’s.

Maximizing the Use of Marketing Stimuli

Is your business hitting every one of your customers 5 senses? If not then you are missing out on an excellent opportunity to increase sales and create a stronger brand identity. Make the first impression count.