Sensory Marketing During Covid?

We asked JCR author Aradhna Krishna about sensory marketing during Covid-19. Here’s what she had to share:

For the last 10 months during the pandemic of Covid-19, we have tried to keep safe by shopping online.  We no longer go to the farmers’ market and feel the tomatoes before buying them.  We no longer smell the colognes in Sephora, or do free tastings at Whole Foods Market and Trader Joes. But, we cannot use our olfactory, gustatory or haptic senses while making our online purchases; we need to rely on vision and audition — that is, on our sight and our hearing. How can the lack of these senses impact buyers?  Obviously, they no longer get the full sensory pleasure of shopping in a physical market.  But there is much more to how each sense can affect the buying process.

For example, my research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, shows that people can “smellize” food.  That is, people can imagine food smells, and this imagination can make people salivate for the food and desire it, just as real smells do. This communication is possible even in an online context.  Yet, food marketers — grocery and seafood deliveries like Imperfect Foods or Wild Alaskan fish, packaged foods like Upton teas and Blue Bottle coffees, and restaurants — are not making use of such smell imagery in their advertising and communication. 

Customer Sense: How the 5 Senses affect Buying Behavior” discusses the effect of all the senses on consumers’ perceptions and behavior.  The book is translated into Chinese, Japanese and Turkish.

For readers who are looking for the research behind many of these findings, there is another book by Aradhna Krishna, “Sensory Marketing: Research on the Sensuality of Products“.  A Chinese version of this book also exists.

For Aradhna Krishna’s JCR research, including free papers, click here!

Stacy Wood

Stacy is the Langdon Distinguished University Professor of Marketing at NC State University and a member of the JCR editorial team.

Stacy Wood has 27 posts and counting. See all posts by Stacy Wood