American Marketer


Marketing needs to be attuned to the five senses: report

December 4, 2015

Miu Miu fragrance campaign image Miu Miu fragrance campaign image


As marketers look to effectively appeal to consumers, a strategy that takes all five senses into consideration is the best approach, according to a new report by Shullman Research Center.

Sight may be the most important sense, ranked highest by 84 percent of consumers, but the other four also play a major role in consumers’ purchasing decisions and perception of a brand. Luxury brands in particular should take note of the senses outside of sight, as luxury buyers have less of a focus on sight than those who do not indulge in luxury.

For "Attn: Marketers and Media: Come to Your Senses... All Five of Them!," Shullman Research Center surveyed 1,690 adults with household incomes of at least $75,000, 474 of whom are millionaires. The results were then weighted according to U.S. Census data from September 2014.

Sense and sensibility

The amount a particular sense factors into a consumer’s decision making depends on a number of factors, including their age, income bracket and gender.

For instance, women ranked sight first or second 85 percent of the time, while only 79 percent of men said the same.

For consumers with a household income of $500,000 or more, sight was even less significant than the average, with 60 percent. These consumers also place more importance on taste and smell.

Touch, taste and smell were more important to the wealthy consumers with net worth of $1 million or more than those with lower assets.

Millennials are the least likely of all generations to rank sight the number one most important sense. Gen-x consumers value hearing and touch more than other age groups, while boomers and seniors are more apt to focus on sight.

Some sectors are already beginning to consider the impact appealing to different senses can have on consumers.

As interest in craft cocktails continues to grow, spirits brands will need to implement “sensploration” tactics to remain competitive in a crowded space.

According to The Future Laboratory, senspoloration includes every aspect of the cocktail experience, playing off all five senses, not just the taste of premium spirit. Diageo Reserve World Class, the trade division of the spirits distributor behind brands such as Johnnie Walker, has partnered with The Future Laboratory to predict where the cocktail industry is headed and how to capitalize on these changes globally (see story).