In part 1 of our blog post series, we explored the research behind embodied cognition, its connection to the experience economy, and the ways in which brands have leveraged sensory marketing to create compelling customer experiences.

The principles of embodied cognition support sensory marketing as an effective mechanism to engage customers through dynamic, memorable experiences that influence buying behavior and brand loyalty. In part 2 today, we offer some tips, examples, and a framework to help you apply embodied cognition to your own experiential marketing efforts. 

Applying embodied cognition to your marketing efforts

Research has shown that sensory interactions subconsciously shape the way consumers perceive and interact with brands and products. This process, scientifically known as embodied cognition, offers marketers unique opportunities to engage and influence their customers through their physical senses. So how do we actually go about applying embodied cognition to our marketing efforts? 

Start by breaking up the five senses into specific channels: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Each sensory channel should attempt to align with and communicate the attributes, values, personality, functions, and emotional benefits of your brand and products. It may not always be possible to engage all of your customers’ senses at once. No one wants to go around tasting AutoZone car batteries. However, it is possible to identify where each sensory channel could be implemented across marketing activities to help amplify the customer experience; in the design of the product itself, how your brand communicates with customers, or the actions associated with points of sale. Brands should think about employing a unified approach to marketing, product design, and customer interaction, leveraging multiple senses to create an experience that will resonate with consumers on a subconscious, emotional level. 

The sensory marketing framework

Included below is a framework created by IE Business School, a leader in experiential marketing research, to help illustrate this approach. This figure highlights how each sense aims to align with key aspects of a product and brand while creating a unified experience. 

Source: https://www.ie.edu/insights/articles/sensory-marketing-straight-to-the-emotions/

Applying this framework to BMW Track Day, it’s clear how each sensory channel engages the customer to create a holistic, memorable experience. BMW situates their Track Day classroom in a sporty garage, exposing participants to the smell of new tires and oil. Participants hear the cranking of wrenches and the revving of BMW motors. Multiple cars and models offer numerous opportunities for attendees to experience BMW’s high quality interiors and sporty contours through physical touch. Most importantly, Track Day participants can “experience innovation” firsthand and get behind the wheel for a test drive. This driving experience is “guaranteed to give you goosebumps” by engaging multiple senses at once, a tactic that IE’s research has shown most strongly reinforces the consumer’s perception of a brand. 

Fleetwood Paints also does an excellent job applying embodied cognition to create an interactive sensory experience. Their online painting consultations are accompanied by mailed color cards, sample brushes, and are often led by an influencer whose reputation and voice align with Fleetwood’s brand values and personality. Paints have pleasant scents. Individual brushes are designed to each have their own unique feeling and texture. Class projects and color palettes are chosen to be vibrant, warm, and dynamic, imbuing the participant with this same sensation and idea of Fleetwood as a brand. This experience reinforces the trust and relationship between Fleetwood and the customer, and influences long term buying behavior. The customer is no longer just buying paint for their walls or DIY project, they are buying from a partner that they trust in their home. 

Measuring the success of your sensory signature

BMW’s Track Day and Fleetwood’s online color consultations illustrate the creative nature of sensory marketing. Each brand and product should aim to craft their own sensory signature, with sensory stimuli remaining consistent across marketing events and touch points. After establishing a sensory strategy, the next step is to measure impact. Although it might seem difficult to measure the ROI of your sensory channels given that most interactions with customers now occur through a mobile or desktop device, there are resources to help. AnyRoad’s experiential marketing platform is enabling brands to implement, measure, and refine their sensory efforts. 

If you’re running a virtual event, turn your customers’ experience into a multi-sensory one. Try accompanying your webinar with a direct mailer, measuring sign ups against a control group who didn’t receive the mailer. If direct mail is not an option, try using audio. Attendees could be greeted by a welcoming set of tones, or a specific tone or celebration when they purchase, comparing loyalty and lifetime value(LTV) to those whose online experience lacks any auditory stimuli. After all, music is proven to be the number one factor in lifting a shopper’s mood in-store, so why not do the same online? 

Work with AnyRoad

On the back end, AnyRoad can help manage and measure the effectiveness of these experiences. We can help A/B test experiences with a sensory component versus those without to see which has the greatest impact. Once a sensory strategy has been tested as tried and true, AnyRoad can help scale these efforts, ensuring a consistent customer experience to reinforce brand loyalty and recognition. 

As more and more consumers engage with their favorite brands through experiences, it will be increasingly important to greet them with a unique sensory signature that can transcend any experience, both online and in-person. The data doesn’t lie. A sensory signature is scientifically proven to make your brand stand out in a crowd and AnyRoad is here to help.