You may have learned about our five senses way back in elementary school, probably on the same day your teacher covered addition or subtraction with double digits (seriously, look back at your notes, you’ll see it there). Although this is useful information, did you know that there’s an industry capitalizing on the use of as many senses as possible to attract you?

No, it’s not dating websites. Today’s marketers are trying to use as many senses as possible in order to get consumers to buy and remember their products. The more senses that are used, the higher rate of retention that will occur.

How do they do that, exactly? I’m glad you asked (otherwise this would be a short blog post).

For each sense, there’s a way marketers can create a stronger bond with us and their product…

Sight

Focus groups help marketers figure out what consumers want to see

This is what we initially see about the product right away. It’s quite possibly the easiest sense to market with, because we automatically review the product without putting any conscious thought into it. What color or size is it? What’s the styling like? Is there something that will please or could it offend customers?

All of these questions have to be addressed before it even hits the shelves for us to buy. In order to make sure the packaging of a product is the right one to attract customers, marketers will hold small focus groups with several different options they’re considering. The option that receives the best feedback is the winner and therefore the one that will hit store shelves.

Smell

If you’ve been in the mall anytime within the past decade, chances are you’re familiar with scent marketing. Think of walking near a Hollister or Abercrombie & Fitch- how close are you before you start to smell their familiar scent wafting towards you? Sixty feet? Thirty feet? Ten feet? When you catch a whiff, you immediately associate that smell with that store even without having to walk in front of it, let alone go inside. This is exactly what marketers hope for since smell is an extremely strong sense for us to create associations and memories with.

Smells like summer time to me!

Some stores take this idea bit further and will have individual departments within their store each have a unique scent to them. Vanilla may be wafting around the women’s department, baby powder in the children’s section, or even the smell of suntan lotion piped into the swimsuit section! This is all in the name of building a stronger connection and getting you to spend more of your money, without realizing it. When you smell suntan lotion your brain is remembering all the years you spent at the beach as a kid, and hey — this suit is on sale and you’ve wanted to go to the beach again, too! And just like that, you bought a swimsuit you didn’t necessarily need (and may not want when you get home later).

Taste

Taste is quite possibly the hardest sense for companies to market to, because it’s difficult to get the point across if the product isn’t edible! Unless USPS starts selling edible packing tape or flavored shipping boxes, don’t count on this one becoming a prevalent marketing technique quite yet. It’s best for food products and supermarket samples.

Hearing

Going into a store and hearing the latest pop song probably isn’t news to your ears (HA- see what I did there?). Music is played to either relax or get customers up and moving around, and consequently buying more merchandise. Stores such as Kohl’s and JCPenney play different music depending on the department in the store. For example, what’s playing in the juniors department is going to be vastly different than what’s playing in the home décor section.

Slim chance she’s listening to the ‘Glenn Miller Orchestra’, which her dad loves

Although this type of marketing may seem like a crazy mish-mash of music in the aisles, it’s a great way for your brand to make a deeper connection with a customer’s taste and interests. The songs teenage girls are listening to aren’t going to be the same ones professional men are going to enjoy hearing, so give people the opportunity to hear exactly what they want when they’re in your place shopping.

Touch

“If only I could have touched this sweater before buying, I would’ve known it was itchy!”

The more we’re sure about a product and feel more comfortable with it, the more willing we are to buy it, right? Well, imagine if you couldn’t touch a sweater before you bought it. You wouldn’t know if it was soft and cozy-feeling or if it was stiff and scratchy. So would you buy it? Chances are you wouldn’t and would walk right past it and out the door. When companies are designing new product offerings, it’s vital they understand and recognize how it will feel to customers.

Marketers want you to remember their brand and their product over their competitors, and while this may seem easy, there’s actually a lot of work that goes into it. Months and months of market research is done on a product before it hits the shelves for customers to buy. Each of these senses is taken into account to ensure we remember it and will buy it again in the future.

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over three years of experience in the industry. Her passion for writing has led to a BA in English & Communications from Aurora University and work published for the Advertising Specialty Institute and The Bolingbrook Sun Times.