Experiencing the Experiential: 5 Sensory Experiential Marketing Campaigns | Queen’s Marketing Association

In psychology, there are five primary elements of sensory perception: visual, olfactory, auditory, gustatory, and somatosensory. You probably know them better as sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch, respectively.

Wondering where this is going– and, more importantly, how it connects to the world of marketing? You’re about to find out.

Marketing is all about capturing and retaining consumer attention, communicating key brand messaging, and, ultimately, establishing emotional connections between brands and consumers. Emotional connection plays an imperative role in driving brand loyalty, and thus, business success. No contemporary marketing trend has become a better reflection of this than experiential marketing.

Experiential Marketing relies on the creation of an interactive and engaging environment within which customers actively experience a brand, subject to particular brand objectives or messaging. A brand might simply be promoting itself, or a particular new product launch, among many other possibilities. Experiential marketing campaigns are typically executed in-person; hosted at pop-up shops/displays, special events, festivals, and much more.

In a market where competition is exponentially expanding, brand loyalty has become more important than ever. Modern-day consumers are continuing to become more mindful of the products they purchase and corporations they support, meaning brands must fight harder than ever to successfully convince customers to choose them.

Experiential marketing has established itself as an unorthodox way to gain access to ever-evolving markets, bringing otherwise notoriously uninterested Millennials into the heart of branding. (But that’s not to say that experiential marketing isn’t effective and relevant to all generational demographics. It’s widely recognized that consumers of all demographics enjoy purchasing experiences, in contrast to tangible goods.) Traditional marketing techniques are slowly proving less effective, but by bringing consumers into the heart of the experience, brands can connect with their customers on personal levels to drive lasting impressions.

As an added bonus: in a world of social media, customers are constantly broadcasting and posting about their experiences. By incorporating concepts into experiential marketing executions, such as promoting unique hashtags, photobooth opportunities, and far more, brands access the opportunity to reach thousands of otherwise untapped markets as consumers share their organic and unique content to their infinite personal networks. (For example: check out WestJet’s 2013 ‘Christmas Miracle’ campaign, which, despite setting an initial target of 200,000 views, is now at over 48,000,000 on YouTube!)

If you’re still wondering how the 5 Senses tie into this conversation, it’s simple. By designing experiential marketing campaigns which successfully target consumers at their most intimate sensory levels, brands can create impressive, lasting impressions and significant emotional connections.

It’s important to note that in designing experiential marketing campaigns with sensory connections in mind, there’s no black and white. As with anything else, experiential marketing experiences can (and do!) target all sensory levels of consumers, with no one sense in particular taking precedence. Additionally, for many reasons, everyone perceives and interprets the world around them differently.

This week, to demonstrate the concept, we’ve decided to share ten great experiential marketing campaigns which successfully rely on the fundamentals of human perception to garner success. Do you have a favourite campaign we’ve shared here (or one you think we’ve left out?) Let us know– we’d love to hear in the comments below!


IKEA’s ‘Ikea Place’ AR App

Acknowledging the concerns of their customers, IKEA launched an augmented reality app, IKEA Place, in the fall of 2014. The app provides customers a ‘try before you buy’ experience, using their digital devices to artificially view what their personal spaces would look like with specific IKEA furniture. IKEA taps the visual sensory component of their customers, making their products appear a more tangible reality, and contributing to convenience by decreasing the margin of error that may impact a customer making a purchase.


Selfridges’ ‘Fragrance Lab’

To promote shopping for perfumes and fragrances, Selfridges launched their ‘Fragrance Lab’ initiative for the summer of 2014. The experience allowed customers to work through an interactive environment wherein they were able to physically try a variety of scents, documenting their personal preferences. Recorded preferences were then collectively processed to present each customer at the end with an entirely personalized fragrance for purchase, as well as a ‘scent prescription’ (Givaduan, 2014). By targeting the entirely personal preferences of each customer within an interactive experience, Selfridges was able to formulate sensory connections with every guest, catering to the unique interests of every visitor.

Honda Stage

In 2014, Honda launched their ‘Honda Stage’ initiative, an experiential music program featuring huge musical talent in live shows, exclusive Honda Stage artist content, and more. Music is an extremely powerful tool in targeting the auditory senses and establishing cognitive correlations. By launching Honda Stage, the Honda brand was able to both expand its audience, through engaging with the musical interests of otherwise disconnected fans, and strengthen its brand presence. Similar to many other experiential campaigns, Honda Stage events create many opportunities for social media sharing by attendees (i.e. ‘Instagramming’ a concert, ultimately expanding the brands social media reach.

Sonic’s ‘Coachella #SquareShakes’

This year at Coachella, American fast-food brand Sonic capitalized on the festivals ‘Instagram allure’ to market their new line of Creamery Shakes. Recognizing that Coachella guests are all about documenting and sharing their experiences online, the brand launched their ‘Square Shakes’ initiative, wherein guests could purchase a milkshake literally made for Instagram: the gourmet milkshakes were served in square glasses, specifically designed to fit within Instagram’s rectangular photo borders. The custom milkshakes were marketed for purchase via Sonic on their own Instagram page, with a ‘purchase now’ option. Not only did the brand capitalize on their own direct social media interactions, but they also launched their new product to appeal directly to the interests of their audience (and their audience’s audiences).


Refinery29’s ‘29 Rooms’

Refinery29 launched their ‘29 Rooms’ initiative in 2014, partnering with a series of brands to create an interactive ‘funhouse’-esque environment wherein guests have the opportunity to visit and engage with sponsored exhibits (or ‘rooms’). This year’s 29Rooms featured exhibits such as ‘Become the Masterpiece’, ‘Cloud Pool’ and ‘Glace Getaway’, among several other exhibits centred on the sensory experience of touch. Guests had the hands-on opportunity to engage with various brands within the intimate, customized, artistic environment. The event is highly Instagrammable, providing vast digital marketing opportunities to both Refinery29 and their partnering brands.


This content was originally published here.

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