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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