Do sensory brand experiences create brand loyalty?

Brand loyalty is a complex multidimensional subject. A consumer is said to be Loyal when he has established an Emotional Connection with the brand – after passing through the stages of Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Purchase and Usage / Experiences. Several psychological processes and elements are involved within these stages, and Loyalty is established when a consumer decides to repurchase a brand due to its perceived value, trustworthiness, satisfaction and commitment.

The Sensory Branding theory (2003-04) proposed by Martin Lindstorm gave a lot of importance to “stimulation of relationship” with the brand. According to him, our entire understanding of the world is through our senses, and as such sensory experiences dominate our rational thinking, opens up a different level of creating an emotional relationship with the brand and creates a loyal bonding at a very early stage of a brand-adoption-loyalty process.

Lot of brands adopt sensory branding approach – using the 5 senses and their synergies – to create sensory touchpoints for the customers. However I feel that the approach itself could be seen as a subset of broader “Experiential Marketing” popularised by Prof. Bernd Schmitt in 1999. Further, a brand which is high on experiential levels but failing on value levels may still fail to garner loyalty.

With this perspective, I’d say that ONLY sensory brand experiences are not enough to create brand loyalty – even though these could perhaps stimulate the seeds of relationship with the brand.

Sensory experiences alone, do not create brand loyalty – but ease off / open up doors to connect with the brand easily.

Links: (1) Brand Loyalty: The psychology of preference (2) Experiential Marketing with Prof. Schmitt Bernd

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About shantanu.sengupta
I'm a passionate Strategic Marketing professional who deeply understands the interplay of Technology, Collaboration and Design that drives brand innovation and growth in a post-recession world today. I believe that marketing solutions cannot be found by referring to historical case studies, esp. since no two marketing problems are the same. As a result, instead of adhering to a jargonised approach to marketing, I follow Design Thinking principles, challenge existing norms and processes, and search for innovative ways to solve marketing problems. I specialize in developing and implementing marketing and communication strategies across B2C and B2B channels, with a clear focus on brand development and customer engagement that increases future brand value.

3 Responses to Do sensory brand experiences create brand loyalty?

  1. Kris C. says:

    I don’t know that mere sensory experience is going to create loyalty for a brand, though I see how that is akin to attachment, and I do believe deeper immersion in anything can produce a deeper level of attachment.

    Take a dating site: you read someone’s profile & witticism online and see a flat image of whatever photos they present. Then you might exchange emails (still not very interactive.) Then you might engage in a chat using an online service, and add a phone call, and ultimately you decide to meet in person. As all of these things happen, if you like the person, your attachment is growing. You meet in person, touch, kiss, whatever, and if everything is still working for you, your attachment is going to be even stronger to this person, based on layering the senses with your experience of who they are.

    Now… this does NOT mean you will always be loyal to them. That remains to be seen, and I think the same holds true for product and service brands. Will your attachment lessen if something better comes along, or will you grow with a company through thick and thin, regardless of the competition? If you have those kinds of customers (some of us are like that about Apple), they will stick with you even if some of their experiences are bad. That’s really the Golden Ticket for the longevity of a company. I bet there are still some women out there who use nothing but a Hoover vacuum because of some identifying factor that occurred decades ago when they were a young housewife.

    Love this topic and actively studying Lindstrom’s neuromarketing thoughts so thanks for this additional brain fuel. 🙂

    • shantanusengpta says:

      Thanks and really appreciate your nice comments above.

      No matter how closely we compare human beings with brands, the fact remains that there’s a limit to the extent you remain loyal to a brand. While humans generally have a tendency to maintain relationship through the thick and thin for another human, the same can’t be said, for example, if we find one fine morning that water used in our favorite Pepsi / Coke actually contained traces of pesticide… (Refer: Coke, Pepsi Face Public Ire and Coke, Pepsi in Hot Water)

  2. shubho says:

    fantastic, eye-opening. thanks.

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