When teaching fashion branding, I often like to look into futuristic topics, picking up on the latest trends. So recently, my class and I ventured into the world of sensory branding of the luxury fashion world.
Imge source here.
For those of you who are new to the term, it basically “is a type of marketing that appeals to all the senses in relation to the brand. It uses the senses to relate with customers on an emotional level. Brands can forge emotional associations in the customers’ minds by appealing to their senses. A multi-sensory brand experience generates certain beliefs, feelings, thoughts and opinions to create a brand image in the consumer’s mind.” (Wikipedia)
Specifically in fashion, the POS (point-of-sale) such as the flagship store is the most suitable place where all senses can be triggered. Students went out to the shopping district in Munich and examined flagship stores such as Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss or Max Mara and others on Visual, Tactile, Auditory, Olfactory, Gustative elements.
They came back with very interesting observations: The luxury stores have a thoroughly and very specifically designed interior, which caters to the visual and tactile sense by using luxurious materials and subtle colours (as well as lighting). Furthermore, the background music is soft and elegant, because this makes one linger longer in the store (as compared to loud and fast music which also shortens the time a customer spends in store).
Image source here.
When it came to the olfactory sense or simply put smell, my students became highly interested in the topic. How is smell integrated in the flagship stores? There is actually an entire industry catering to boutiques of all sorts, supplying fragrances for the so-called “ambient scent branding” which makes us feel relaxed and enchanted when we enter the premises. The big names of today’s scent manufacturers are Givaudan, Firmenich and IFF as well as Symrise. But this is actually nothing new: Singapore Airlines was one of the first companies to use a signature scent inside their cabins way back in the 80s. And in 2015, Hugo Boss has a signature ambient fragrance which they also let you take home in the form of a scented candle.
The last sense left to cover is taste. It is not something that immediately makes sense when thinking of luxury fashion. However, marketers have not been ignoring it and came up with a clever idea: The flagship stores now boast a cafe, restaurant or bar and reach us on the gustative level, too.
For example, Armani has the Armani Caffé in Munich and Burberry has followed the trend closely by opening a Café at its Regent Street flagship store this past summer. If you happen to be in Shanghai, there is the 1921Gucci which is a fully-branded restaurant at the top of its store and in Tokyo the Maison Hermes Le Cafe will serve a coffee with miniature chocolate Birkin bags.
So what is next? – one wonders. How can fashion tempt us by reaching us on all physical and emotional senses? Have you ever explored the topic of sensory branding? What do you envision for the future?