Attn: Marketers and Media: Come to Your Senses… All Five of Them!
For decades, some marketers have been aware of the potential advantages of appealing to more than what consumers see or hear, as the typical consumer has five senses that can be targeted: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Recently the topic has been attracting attention. For example, the March 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review focused on the five senses in its “Science of Sensory Marketing” report; and “The Future of Your Sense of Taste” article in the November 17, 2015, Wall Street Journal described scientists’ current research into manipulating flavor experiences using all five senses.
In all Shullman Pulse survey waves, new questions are asked to explore topics that may provide insights for all marketers, and especially for those who focus on the luxury, affluence, and wealth markets. Consequently, the most recent Shullman Pulse wave included the following as a new question: “Of the five senses that most people use in everyday life, please rank your own senses in order of their importance to you.” This Insights brief, the first part of a series, presents how our survey respondents, who represent the 242 million American adults age 18 or older, responded to this question.
According to the eye-opening findings of this Insights brief, it’s time for advertisers, their agencies, and the media to rethink that old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and to consider “Sales opportunities are in the eyes, ears, nose, taste buds, and fingertips of the consumer,” as all five of our senses are very likely to come into play when people are shopping and making buying decisions.
Yes, sight is by far the most important sense but, to varying degrees, all of the five senses have an impact, and which sense is most important differs when it comes to gender, generation, household income, and being a buyer of luxuries. For example, sight and hearing rank highest for both men and women. However, while those same senses are the top two in the overall household-income category, the 1 percenters, far more than the general population, consider taste and smell as being important.
Also, differences arise among the generations, as Millennials are somewhat less attuned to sight than the others (although, as many may well understand, this foodie- and digitally-oriented group is also more attracted by touch and taste than their elders). Finally, luxury buyers are also less centered on their sense of sight than non-buyers.
Overall, our word to the wise is that it’s incumbent on marketers and media to understand the common sense of paying more attention to all five senses.