Your Five Senses

Five Senses of Marketing

I saw this story here about a scented billboard that gives off the smell of BBQ steak  in Mooresville, NC. (see video below). While smells in the market place is nothing new–Subway, Caribou Coffee, and McDonald’s are some of the big names that spend time and effort nailing down the perfect smell. What is new is creating a sense of smell with the intent of changing your purchase habits.

First, I’m not sure how excited I would be about a world filled with smells enticing me to try something new. Granted each establishment has it’s own smell but just imagine driving down the highway and each half mile or so being inundated with a different smell. This would get annoying fast.

Martin Lindstrom, author of Brand Sense, is an enthusiastic advocate of incorporating the sense of smell into as many aspects of a firm’s marketing as possible. He notes that a study showed that 80% of men and 90% of women reported having vivid, emotion-triggering memories evoked by odor.

Human Mind

Currently there is a tremendous amount of research around the human mind. We are now able to map different regions and have a deeper understanding with the help of technology the types of things that make us light up. One of the things that has been recently learned is that the more you can tap into all five senses the higher chance that you or your product will be remembered. Also the more senses your product ignites the deeper emotional bond that can be created.

Opening Up Your Senses

Let’s not forget hearing and touch. Sound evokes memory and emotion. A familiar birdsong floods you with impressions of home; a hit song from your youth brings back the excitement and anxiety of your teens.

Sensory perceptions are unique to each of us, as memories are. We experience powerful stimulation from them. Here are some examples of unique emotional appeals to your five senses.


Harley-Davidson has created a unique culture among motorcycle owners, who are fanatically loyal to the company. Harley enthusiasts claim the rumble of their bikes is instantly recognizable, different from any other motorcycle on the road.

This led company executives to take the unconventional route of securing trademark protection for the distinctive sound of Harley-Davidson’s revving engine.

New Car Smell

Take the “new car” smell, for example. Turns out, it’s fake. Same goes for the leather smell in your car.

Research by automakers determined that consumer preferences have changed over the years and we now prefer the smell of artificial leather to genuine tanned leather.


Most children in North America grew up with Crayola crayons. Their distinctive smell still evokes feelings of nostalgia for adults who have long since given up their coloring books. As a result, Binney & Smith patented the smell of its Crayola crayons to prevent others from replicating it.

Crest Toothpaste

When Crest introduced new flavors of toothpaste – lemon ice, cinnamon and citrus – it supported the launch with a tactile campaign. Full color ads ran in magazines that included a scratch-and-sniff area to allow consumers to experience the new flavors.