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Sensory consumerism

Japanese scientists have developed a 'smelling screen' that allows you to see as well as smell the coffee or food displayed on it. It works by feeding odours from vaporising gel pellets into four air streams, one in each corner of the screen.

business Updated: May 20, 2013 01:37 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo

Japanese scientists have developed a 'smelling screen' that allows you to see as well as smell the coffee or food displayed on it. It works by feeding odours from vaporising gel pellets into four air streams, one in each corner of the screen.

The smell of Johnson’s baby lotion connects Jayanti Shroff, 43, to her daughter’s childhood instantly. “It has developed its signature years ago; the recall and association are instantaneous,” Shroff said. This signature baby products smell takes people back to their own childhood.

Software engineer Amulya Batra, 29, says, "The smell of coffee beans when I’m out on the roads or in a mall invites me to have a cup – I turn into a potential customer for the http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/5/20_05_13-buss23.gifnearby coffee outlet."

“In India, marketers are finding different ways to use smell. Coffee companies use the ‘beans’ aroma outside their outlets or in the mall, which instantly lets you know there’s a coffee shop nearby,” said Sandeep Kapoor, founder, RelioQuick, an integrated marketing communications agency.

“For a coffee chain like Tata Starbucks, the aroma of coffee lends our stores a strong and inviting appeal. A brand’s experience is not just about the medium but also about something less tangible and beyond the product offering,” said Sushant Dash, senior director, marketing and category, Tata Starbucks Limited.

Canadian brand Woodland found that using sound, sight, smell and touch stimuli on consumers has a very positive halo effect on their mood. “We have developed a signature aroma of leather, which is sprayed near the shoes and leather product shelves in the stores and also in the product packaging,” said Amol Dhillon, vice president, planning and strategy, Woodland.”

Brand expert Prahlad Kakkar said: “Let’s think about foul smell and ugly look. This makes you run away. Think the opposite and you will feel good, consume more. There are certain smells, colours and shapes that give a certain happiness and recognition to the consumer.”

Sridhar Ramanujam, CEO, Brand-com, added: “Royal Enfield devised the Bullet with a unique macho sound. It gives its owner a recognition that gets defined as self-recognition. The point is to explore and innovate on at least one of the five senses and get instant recognition with the target consumers.”

The entry point for sensory stimuli is memory. If the memory is good it triggers positive emotions, research shows. This memory could be personal or collective, regional or cultural.

“High end car makers, including Ferrari, exploit the colour red a lot. For consumers, red on steel or leather gives a feel of power, strength and ownership. Black symbolises the same traits too,” Kapoor of RelioQuick said.

Research by global consultancy Millward Brown reveals that sensory branding has so far been particularly successful in Asian countries, where consumers are much more in tune with their senses, than any other part of the world. In India, the concept is hugely popular with the hospitality industry, followed by automotive, retail and FMCG, but there are no specific numbers on record.

German premium apparel brand s.Oliver in India chose a fragrance by the UK-based Technical Concept, after many trials with lemon and cactus. Singapore Airlines created a patented ‘Stefan Floridian Waters’ aroma for use at all consumer touch points. Starwood Hotels has introduced signature scents in its hotel lobbies.

An ongoing ad campaign on television has Salman Khan connecting Wheel’s after wash perfume to the smell of freshly washed clothes. Pond’s Dreamflower talc’s ads talk of “Dreamflower ki taazgi” associating the talc’s floral smell to freshness.

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