The Power of Sensory Marketing

May 9, 2018

Sensory awareness enables you to focus your attention on points that can influence you, and anyone who knows how to use it to an advantage can manipulate your decisions without your knowing it. Merchants understand the phenomenon and use it to engineer the environment in their stores to get you to buy more. By learning how merchants attempt to influence your decision-making, you may gain control of your sensory awareness and become an informed shopper.



The success of music that makes you want to buy something lies in its ability to avoid attracting your attention. Music that has a slow beat tends to make customers take more time to shop, find more things to buy and spend more money. The influence of classical music that many people regard as sophisticated increased the sale of expensive wine, according to Psychologist World. Grocery and other shops that have a high traffic volume play classical music almost never.


Color Schemes and Decorations

Researchers studied the influence of color on purchasing, and Entrepreneur reported that as many as 85 percent of shoppers respond to its impact. Store color themes can influence buying as well. Merchants may choose a combination of hues and tones that remind you of the beach, sunshine and sand that encourages you to buy a bathing suit and beach gear. Harvard Business Review includes store decorations as influencing factors along with packaging and sales promotions.


Oversized Shopping Carts

The cart that you use in the grocery today is three times the size of the original in 1938, according to Consumerist. Perhaps more to the point, the cart size doubled between 2009 and 2011. Researchers found that a 40 percent increase in purchases occurred when the carts doubled in size. To take advantage of studies that show the influence of cart size, manufacturers promote a double basket that can improve merchants’ bottom line.


Mirror Manipulation

In a marketing ploy that you may consider unfair, retailers use mirrors in dressing rooms to make you look better and buy more garments. The Business Insider reports that some mirrors can make you look 10 pounds lighter, an image that may make you want to purchase the clothes that flatter your figure. Customers who used the distorted mirrors made more purchases than those who saw themselves as others see them.


Spotlight on Items/Merchandiser

Research in Germany and the United Kingdom indicates the effect of accent lighting that highlights products and draws customer attention. Customers tend to prefer to see store windows that include natural daylight as well as spotlighting and “high contrast design lighting” within the store. With a combination of lighting styles, merchandisers create a contrast that increases customer perception of products. When you can readily identify items on lower shelves that use “wide-area backlighting,” you may feel the effect of merchandisers’ calculated efforts to sell you something.


New Packaging

A scholarly study in Springer Link reflects the dissatisfaction that consumers demonstrate for secret downsizing by refusing to buy products that use the marketing ploy. It has a stronger negative impact on goods with “high-risk importance” and those that have “low probability for consumer errors.” The study shows that other shoppers may react in the same way that you do when the product that you buy has less value to you than it once did. The consequence of the marketing tactic shows in the failure of downsizing projects.


Celebratory and Seasonal Items

An experimental survey in England confirms a fact that you may consider obvious. The researchers chose the Halloween season at “key grocery retailer” sites to ask shoppers if they had noticed the specialty items in the store. The results revealed that the Halloween displays influenced 66 percent of respondents to make a purchase.




Retailers seem to understand the appeal that less complicated times provide as a counter to a complex society. Forbes suggests that nostalgia helps them capitalize on a “desire for simpler times.” When you choose to make a purchase that counters the complexity of everyday life, you may reinforce retailers’ marketing plan. The effect of nostalgic marketing seems to offer products that create a balance between simplicity and complexity.


Scent Marketing

As you know from personal experience, the scent of a familiar fragrance can transport you to a distant time and place, and merchandisers count on it to help with sales. Not all aromas have a romantic connection, as casino owners understand. Business cites a report that revealed 45 percent more spending by gamblers when the room featured a floral scent. Some retailers diffuse the aroma of cut grass to help sell lawn mowers or fragrant scents to sell shampoo. Merchants must figure out the smell that has the best chance of selling a product.


Sample Stations

The appeal of getting something for free can make sample stations an attractive marketing concept. The crunch of the cracker, the taste of the wine or the smell of the cologne gives you a chance to try a new product without buying anything. However, the concept of reciprocity can affect your buying decision as well. The Atlantic reported that samples had produced a marked increase in sales of sampled products. Success rates ranged between 71 percent for a free taste of beer and 600 percent for a bite of pizza.


Shopping Speedbumps

A structure on the roads that you travel, speedbumps can make you slow down often enough that it becomes a habit. Retailers use the concept to make you slow down when you shop as well. While stores do not use elevations on the floor that may lead to trip and fall accidents, Subastral reports that they create a slowdown in other ways. Attractive displays can serve as attention getters that make you slow down for a few seconds to look, and it is long enough to allow some shoppers to make an impulse purchase.



By making garments a little bigger, retailers can assign a size on the sticker that influences purchasing decisions. Forbes reported on the effect of vanity sizing and cites a report finding that “downsized labels” please shoppers while larger size labels produce the opposite effect. While a small number on a garment does not affect the way it fits, it can make a difference to a size-conscious shopper.



Polaris Greystone Financial Group, LLC is a federally registered investment adviser. The information, statements and opinions expressed in this material are provided for general information only, are based on data we believe to be accurate at the time of writing, and are subject to change without notice. This material does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs, is not intended as a recommendation to purchase or sell any security, and is not intended as individual or specific advice. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Polaris Greystone Financial Group, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Polaris Greystone Financial Group, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place.

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