“Customers can experience every facet of the brand through immersive multimedia content exactly as they do online.” Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, following the Regent Street flagship opening (TheGuardian.com, August 21, 2013)


Description

There is a new desire for “global flavors” and maximal sensory appeal that drives consumers’ demand for more varied, novel, and complex sensations, working in concert to create optimal enjoyment. The burgeoning trend for multi-sensory experiences consists of heightening  people’s awareness of the links between their five senses. Although each sense is distinct, when all five are activated, an experience can become extraordinary. Sensation seekers get satisfaction by continual fresh waves of flavor and scent innovation, including unique combinations (or fusions). Texture, touch, and motion are becoming more common, thanks notably to finger-controlled devices like touch screen and motion technologies. New immersive experiences that engage the five senses are fostering new cross-sector partnerships. Consumers who demand magical experiences from retailers are embracing multi-sensory moments.

Texture, touch, and motion are becoming more common, thanks notably to finger-controlled devices like touch screen and motion technologies.

The latest innovation occurring in that field is the emergence of 4D entertainment. The retail, hospitality and exhibition sectors are playing with fantasy, scale, materials, color and narrative within environments, opening up new physical worlds that work in parallel with their digital offerings. From cinema theaters to theme parks, the 4D technology is adding an extra layer in immersive experiences and will be soon a popular marketing tool for brands and retailers. Brands such as Nike, Ralph Lauren, Nokia and Dunhill have already designed jaw-dropping public displays that inspire and delight the audiences by reinventing public spaces through light, sound and visual stimulation.

Multi-sensory retail

With the rise of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers must find innovative ways for their physical stores to remain appealing. To this end, they create in-store brand experiences that customers can’t get when they shop online. As consumers place a premium on sensory stimulation, stores can express how the brand looks and sounds, smells, feels and even tastes. Consumers tend to be more influenced by attributes that interact with the senses than navigating between levels of non-sensory attributes. The research report Store Sense from Australia’s Deakin University says that by engaging multiple senses, brick-and-mortar retailers can build brand loyalty, increase in-store purchases and  appeal to youth markets. Authors Ogden-Barnes and Barclay map a sensory engagement process in which ‘shopping arousal’ is triggered by engaging the senses to create an emotional and memorable interaction.

Way back in 1982, Milman found that slow music increased spending in supermarkets by 39.2% – since then, Nike has found introducing scent into their stores increased intention to purchase by 80%.

There’s more and more evidence that a multi-sensory experience works. Way back in 1982, Milman found that slow music increased spending in supermarkets by 39.2% – since then, Nike has found introducing scent into their stores increased intention to purchase by 80%. Abercrombie & Fitch has successfully added loud music, dim lighting, attractive staff and scent throughout their stores. More recently, Diageo showed that changes to the multi-sensory environment increased enjoyment of whiskey by up to 20%. The Harvard Business Review also reported that those who haggled over the price of a car sitting in a hard chair offered 28% less than those who were sitting in soft chairs.

Multi-sensorial dining experiences

Multi-sensorial dining experiences are blooming – taking participants out of their comfort zones and into an artificially enhanced universe of surprise and delight. Olfactory experts are pairing with consumer electronics and food research companies, while artists and chefs are looking towards the science lab for inspiration. Gastronomy is becoming a major conduit for cross-discipline experimentation. Meanwhile, the so-called “fusion cuisine” trend has blurred boundaries and has been embraced by consumers craving delicious meals that satisfy their palate no matter the food’s roots.

Olfactory experts are pairing with consumer electronics and food research companies, while artists and chefs are looking towards the science lab for inspiration.

Effectively manipulating product smell, shape, sound, feel, and taste is important in creating an emotionally and sensually engaging proposition. This increasingly demands multiple sensory cues; enjoyment starts with enticing colors, textures, and aromas. The science, which lies behind the edible landscape of the future, is presented as crucial to its taste. Fantastical new ‘foodie’ experiences, including inventive methods of consumption, are creating a new breed of food designer.

Featured examples

 

Iberia Airlines

Credit: Iberia.com

Credit: Iberia.com

Iberia Airlines has been the first airline to create its own signature scent, ‘Mediterráneo’. It is a fresh, soft and delicate fragrance that provides a sense of well-being, providing a warm welcome to the airplane. It aims to appeal to the full range of senses in the cabin by adding scent and sound to touch, taste and sight. A new soundtrack compilation of popular Spanish music has also been designed to set the mood as passengers board and deplane their flight.
Spain Spain, August 2014

 

Habitat Pure

Credit: Habitat.fr

Credit: Habitat.fr

Home furniture brand Habitat is now entering the world of beauty with the launch of its first Scent Bar in Paris 17e, named ‘Habitat Pure’. The new space consists of a collection of home fragrances as well as personal care products. Through this new retail concept, Habitat wishes to provide its customers with a sensory experience. To do this, the retailer offers four product lines such as Imperial Pure, Pure Oriental, Cardinal Pure and Pure Thermal, available in twenty scents (woody, floral, fruity and spicy, for example. Product-wise, customers will find scented candles and ceramics, pillow mists, interior sprays, hand creams, body lotions and moisturizers. Quite accessible, as prices go from 3.50€ to 99 €.
France France, December 2014

 

Sublimotion

Sublimotion is a hi-tech, multi-sensory luxury dining experience launched at Ibiza’s Hard Rock Hotel in May 2014. With $2,000 per meal, the experience is more than just eating through the ever-changing mood of the interior, which is achieved by dynamic lighting and projection mapping. Food creations by world-renowned chef and National Gastronomy Award recipient Paco Roncero will make guests feel they are traveling to the arctic to eat a chilled dish, or transported to Versailles to better appreciate the flavors of a rose.
Spain Spain, May 2014

 

The Colour Palate

Credit: Theartofdining.co.uk

Credit: Theartofdining.co.uk

London-based company The Art of Dining has imagined a new dining experience that explores the impact that colour can have on taste and flavour perception: the Colour Palate. This multisensory dining experience uses lighting, paper, glass and fabric to produce an environment that changes as each of the meal’s five courses arrive. Fellow co-founder and chef Ellen Parr creates color-themed food – for instance, Tandoori bass, cumin chickpeas, saffron yogurt and raw courgette salad is served on a yellow plate. Music also changes as each course is delivered in order to enhance the moment.
United-Kingdom United Kingdom, August 2014

 

Marriott’s Oculus Rift headsets

Marriott Hotels has teamed up with Academy Award-winning Framestore to create a new virtual-reality travel concept through a sensory and fully immersive 4D experience supplied by Oculus Rift headsets. Travelers put the headsets on their head and are transported to a destination without actually going there. The virtual ‘Teleporter’ has been at the Marquis, and will tour six other cities across the U.S. One will be stationed inside a Marriott property while another will be in the form of a pop-up. They will be open to both hotel guests and the general public.
United States of America United States, September 2014

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Generate multi-sensory experiences to delight and entertain shoppers, giving them the opportunity to feel a real connection to the products they are about to buy.

2

Favor touch and sight as they are the most fundamental senses that retail stores can leverage to create a sensory experience.

3

Build retail displays and in-store promotional stands to encourage shoppers to touch the merchandise. It will help consumers form a bond with products and affirm purchasing decisions.

Summary

  • There is a new consumer desire for “global flavors” and maximal sensory appeal that drives consumers’ demand for more varied, novel, and complex sensations for optimal enjoyment.
  • As consumers place a premium on sensory stimulation, stores can express how the brand looks and sounds, smells, feels and even tastes. Consumers tend to be more influenced by attributes that interact with the senses than navigating between levels of non-sensory attributes.
  • The creation of multi-sensorial dining experiences is increasing. Olfactory experts are pairing with consumer electronics and food research companies, while artists and chefs are looking towards the science lab for inspiration.
  • Nike has found introducing scent into their stores increased intention to purchase by 80%. Diageo showed that changes to the multi-sensory environment increased enjoyment of whiskey by up to 20%.

Experts that we recommend

bruno-viala Bruno Viala
French chef, molecular food consultant & founder of ephemeral dining service Executive Traiteur
alice-hodge Alice Hodge & Ellen Parr
Respectively British designer and chef & founders of the Art of Dining
kate-mclean Kate McLean
British olfactory experience designer & founder of the Sensory Maps project