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March 27, 2015

Digital Marketing For All Five Senses?

Posted by Ambeshwar Nath (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:22 AM

Digital Marketing
Most digital consumers don't even realize that they are being bombarded with numerous sensory cues in carefully calculated orders and methods in order to get them to click and purchase

In many parts of the world, television shows about food - or, more specifically, how to prepare it - are spectacularly popular. What we eat and how we cook it apparently says a lot about us. In fact, there's even a lovely movie - The Hundred-Foot Journey - about a stodgy, elderly expat learning how to cook with an array of Indian spices.

The movie is really about this pensioner learning how to live and love against a backdrop of cooking. Indeed, what's so powerful about food and its preparation is that it's a wonderfully powerful assault on all of our senses. That said, one assumes marketers know about sensory stimulation and how best to utilize it when selling us products - especially online.

If you think the web is just about sight and sound, then you have a lot to learn about how savvy consumer focused organizations are becoming. New research demonstrates how the right marketing software can be employed by retail organizations to tap into not just the sense of sight to an online consumer, but all senses - creating powerful sales platforms and strategies.

For example, the consumer packaged goods giant Unilever produces a number of well-known deodorants for men and women. But its Axe brand spray deodorant, marketed to hip young men, makes a different sound when it comes out of the canister than its Dove brand deodorant, marketed to women who are looking for delicate products that soften their skin.The two brands obviously smell differently from each other, but the sound their spray bottles make is different, too.

In fact, a recent academic study suggests that consumers are heavily influenced by the order in which they receive sensory cues, and the presence of multiple cues strategically placed around them at the same time. Did you know, for instance, that online consumers equate different colors with different smells? A manufacturer and marketer of fragrances might send a consumer a number of test strips with scents on them where each strip of paper is a different color. And they will make sure the consumer tests each strip in a particular order as well.

A professor who participated in the study, Don Lehmann of Columbia Business School, says that in theory the order of the sensory cues shouldn't matter because the information received is the same. But, he says, what we see, taste, smell, and hear is often influenced by the presence of other sensory cues, and so when sampling, each product is not evaluated in isolation.

In some ways, he's described the online marketing experience. Most digital consumers don't even realize that they are being bombarded with numerous sensory cues in carefully calculated orders and methods in order to get them to click and purchase. One of the big lessons learned in the study was that being first matters. Hence the more robust the software a company wields, the more likely it will clinch some important sales. Consumers who sample products that offer similar sensory experiences are almost always likely to choose the first product. But when the sensory cues are different, the order of their presentation to the consumer doesn't matter as much.

What digital consumers now have at their disposal is a real hands-on tool to test and sample items - the Internet and the various devices that connect to it. Just think of how powerful these marketing tactics will become when the Internet of Everything begins to take hold. What has worked with marketers in the bricks and mortar world might very well find new and relevant life in the digital world in which everything and everyone is connected.

As I headed out of the Bangalore Airport recently, I overheard the security guard at the gate and his colleague discussing the next watch sale on Amazon, a company that has redefined digital and has broken the boundaries between digital and bricks and mortar. I couldn't help but wonder if the Internet of Everything has already rocketed ahead.

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