In a world obsessed with measurement and big data, it’s easy to see why consumers often feel overwhelmed by the amount of brand information coming their way. To break through the clutter and build more meaningful connections, some companies are ditching the numbers game in favor of multisensory experiences that help stimulate the mind and body more organically. It’s a fine balance, however, appealing to the senses without inducing sensory overload. Here’s a look at some of the brands that got it right, and why their strategies make, well, sense.
Budweiser: Snagging consumers’ attention at South by Southwest is no easy feat, but Anheuser-Busch achieved the (nearly) impossible by activating the Budweiser Beer Garage. Known more for its brews than its tech savvy, Bud set out to showcase how it uses digital innovation to create relevant ways for consumers to experience its brand. Equipping participants with VR headsets, Budweiser took attendees on a 4D immersive reality experience that offered a virtual spin through the brand’s St. Louis brewery. The experience included scent, sound and wind effects that, for example, allowed attendees to experience temperature changes in the brewery or smell the hops used in the brand’s fermentation process.
To boot, the Beer Garage also included interactive lifestyle vignettes that illustrated how Budweiser leverages technology like self-serving beer taps and Wi-Fi-enabled smart refrigerators to enhance consumers’ enjoyment of its products.
Marriott: Rather than execute the typical ribbon-cutting ceremony for the relaunch of its coastal-themed hotel in Irvine, CA, Marriott developed a multisensory event series that took attendees inside the guest experience. The logic? According to Scott McCoy, general manager at Irvine Marriott, “Many hoteliers will have a grand opening party, and that can be somewhat effective, but when there are hundreds and hundreds of people there, it’s very difficult for individuals to have the same experience that they would as a traveler and, secondly, it’s difficult for the hotelier to execute what it is they’re trying to showcase.”
The journey offered rotating culinary stations—including an audio pairing of ocean sounds with a seafood station, and an aromatic station where attendees smelled what they were about to eat before viewing it—each of which represented one of the five senses. There were also visual performers like aerialists and flamenco dancers, a hands-on LEGO design workshop and even robot demos that highlighted Marriott’s future approaches to ingenuity.
Patron: To celebrate the artisanal craftsmanship its brand is founded on, Patron Tequila activated the Art of Patron, an event platform that paid tribute to the brand’s five central pillars: music, cuisine, mixology, tequila and the Patron bottle itself. Engagements included a bar where attendees could create a personalized blend of cocktail rim spices; a bottle art contest that featured a five-foot replica of a Patron Silver bottle made up of 40,000 crayons; live performances by two acclaimed singer-songwriters; and a VR experience that took the viewer to Patron’s distillery in Mexico, as the scent of freshly baked agave wafted through the space. Not only did the experience immerse attendees in Patron’s legacy, it offered a modern representation of the brand’s core tenets by leveraging just the right amount of technology.
Refinery29: If you’re looking to showcase your brand’s edgy side, offering a giant funhouse experience that addresses hot-button topics and up-and-coming trends is a good place to start. That’s what lifestyle website Refinery29 did during New York Fashion Week, activating the 29Rooms experience to give consumers a taste of its bold yet playful personality, and what kind of content it offers. The journey included The Hairousel, where attendees could play with the hair of My Little Pony-inspired wooden horses; stylized voting booths where participants could create a short recording about the political issues that mattered most to them; a Sound in the Clouds room where attendees could listen to music curated by Saint Heron while interacting with white, fluffy cloud replicas; and the Desert Drive-In movie theater, a space featuring real sand and mock car seats, which played short films from cutting-edge female directors. And the kicker: the tour ends with the Handbag Castle—a massive bouncy house shaped like a purse.
For every industry, from automotive to culinary to retail and beyond, an opportunity exists to leverage multisensory tactics that bring customers and partners closer to the message your brand is trying to convey. There are even ways to transform business meetings into sensory experiences that add a fun, b-to-c vibe to an otherwise mundane b-to-b event. The key is to identify how appealing to the senses will help translate brand messaging in a way that’s memorable and meaningful. Even the most stimulating experiences won’t resonate if the strategy isn’t cohesive, but if you do it right, attendees will swiftly come to their senses.