Seeing beyond sight in research

29.01.16

Tess Kenning

Research Manager, London

Considering how important the senses are in driving consumer engagement for brands, how can they be used to enhance consumer research?

Increasingly, brands are tapping into senses beyond sight in a bid to enhance engagement with consumers. In the last year alone we’ve seen Glenfiddich experiment with sound-infused whisky, and high-street bookstore Foyles launch a new shop complete with sounds and smells. By engaging the other senses, brands are able to be more relevant, connecting with consumers on a more emotional, human level.

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So, given the power of senses in branding, how can they be used to enhance consumer research?

Integrating all five senses into research allows access to a deeper, more implicit response to brand design. Sound, smell, texture and taste tap into our sub-conscious mind, unlocking emotions more readily than purely visual stimuli. Engaging consumers in this way can deliver a richer, more articulate response, on anything from design, to retail, and even multi-dimensional brand experience.

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It’s an approach we used to uncover the relationship between consumers and the in-store experience in a recent project for NEXT. We found that by integrating sounds and textures into our method, consumers were able to express a more emotionally-driven, detailed response to the store design. This helped reveal that consumers actively seek a more gratifying shopping experience, and allowed NEXT to see the store through the eyes of the consumer – quite literally!

The new Next store which has opened at The Market Place, Bolton. Photo by Nigel Taggart, Newsquest (Bolton) Ltd, Thursday March 19, 2015

Multi-sensory research is something we’re really interested in, so we’ve developed Sense It – a bespoke toolkit, complete with methods and stimulants that encompass all five senses. Given how powerful a tool the senses seem to be, it’s surprising to consider how research still tends to focus primarily on sight. Perhaps this is something we’ll soon see change….

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