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Sensory Marketing: Reinventing the Customer Experience

fornerino-marianela
Published on
19 April 2017

Sensory marketing can modify the customer experience as well as a customer’s purchasing habits. Marianela Fornerino, a professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Management, is an expert on sensory marketing. She shares with us advice drawn from her experience and practical teaching with third-year Grande Ecole students.

Images, sounds, smells, touch and taste can all spark our curiosity and desire. But they can just as easily increase inhibitions. Understanding the alchemy behind our senses can have a real impact on a customer's intention to buy. The key is to develop a strategy that implements a balanced delivery of sensory stimuli.

Hands on experience

For 15 years, Marianela Fornerino has taught sensory marketing to third-year students in the Grande Ecole program at Grenoble Ecole de Management. All of her students are specialized in marketing studies. The goal of her class is to help students understand the impact of various sensorial stimuli.

"It's important to study experience-based marketing. You have to understand the customer experience as well as his or her emotions and behavior in the store. Then you need to analyze the cognitive, emotional and behavioral impact of sensory stimuli on this consumer experience. First you analyze each sense individually. Then you look at their interactions and the combined impact they may have. My course finishes with concrete hands on practice." The goal is to understand which sensory stimuli will have a positive or negative impact on a consumer's perception and evaluation of a product.

Insolita: a marketing playground for students

Students are able to study sensory marketing through an innovative store called Insolita. The store is a high-end Italian "shoe bar" that presents handmade shoes produced by craftsmen in northern Italy. The store knows how to play on a customer's senses by mixing a wide variety of Italy-related sensory stimuli.

Color, taste and smell all come into play through a mix of Italian colors, food and the smell of leather. "Students were able to implement a traditional marketing analysis of the concept (diagnostic, segmentation, target audience and position). They also looked at the operational side of things to analyze the customer experience with the brand," adds Marianela. To improve the store's innovative concept, the students made several suggestions:

  • Create a real store front that lays out the products in a theatricalized manner
  • Create a showroom space for customers to discover, for example, a variety of leather textures
  • Adapt the decoration to really underline the Italian image
  • Reorganize the sales space to simplify the customer's browsing experience

A connected shop for students and companies

In November 2016, GEM created an innovative connected shop to serve as a laboratory that will enable students and companies to explore the "phygital" (physical + digital) shopping experience of the future. The store is located on the GEM BIS campus as part of the GIANT Innovation Campus. It was set up thanks to technological support from startups and laboratories in the Grenoble ecosystem. Picture Organic Clothing is an innovative and environmentally friendly clothing brand that was willing to partner with GEM to provide the store with 200 clothing models and a selection of winter sports wear.

The connected shop aims to create a space that is dedicated to education and research on the future of phygital sales. In terms of sensory marketing, the shop aims to measure the impact of colors, music, touch, taste and smell on a brand and its customer's intention to purchase. Students can take part in an immersive sales experience by testing connected dressing rooms that detect RFID tags in order to display an item's characteristics. The 160 square meter shop also enables partner companies to experiment with new means of payment (cryptocurrencies), blockchain and personalized marketing systems based on technologies such as facial recognition. "For GEM partners, this connected shop provides a live testing ground to try out innovative concepts," says Christian Rivet, head of the connected shop.

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