SENSORY marketing aims to provide consumers with excitement, satisfaction and pleasure, with the focus on the sensory experience.
Each of the five senses -smell, sound, sight, taste and touch- and all the senses together form the foundation of what is called the "sensory experience".
A successful sensory marketing strategy taps certain beliefs, feelings, thoughts, and memories to create an image in the customer's mind.
For example, if the smell of fried onions and sausages ever makes you think of Bunnings, that is no accident.
The New Zealand supermarket chain, New World, stopped wrapping fruit and veggies in plastic as part of its "food in the nude campaign".
Nigel Bond , the owner of one of the stores said: "When we first set up the new shelving our customers were blown away."
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"It reminded me of when I was a kid going to the fruiterer with my dad, you could smell the fresh citrus and spring onions.
"By wrapping products in plastic we sanitise and deprive people of this experience.
"After we introduced the concept we noticed sales of spring onions, for example, had increased by 300 per cent.
"There may have been other factors at play but we noticed similar increases in other vegetable varieties like silverbeet and radishes." (Quotes taken from the New Zealand Herald.)
This type of sensory experience brings other challenges in terms of food safety and food waste but unpacking the sensory experiences can lead to fresh ideas.
Our senses contribute to the information we receive in these proportions: Sight 83pc eyes, Sound 11pc ears; Smell 3.5pc nose, touch 1.5pc skin/movement; taste 1pc tongue. (Source: Herbst/Musiolik 2015)
While sight dominates, our brains actually store experiences in neural networks - the building blocks of our memories and experiences.
The more familiar we are with an experience the easier it is to activate or fire up one of these neural networks.
What does this all mean for fresh produce?
THE digital world allows us to create not just a supply chain but a sensory supply chain.
What Nigel Bond experienced in his store was better sales growth delivered by a better consumer experience supported by sensory marketing .
The opportunity in fresh produce, is to begin activating the sensory experience before and after the consumer comes to the store.
This kind of familiarisation supports better sales outcomes - it activates consumer experience around the product before seeing it in store.
What does a sensory supply chain look like?
A SENSORY supply chain collects data through the complete lifecycle of the supply chain, and uses that data to extract the maximum value for all stakeholders.
At the HiveXchange we have built one of the core foundations of a sensory supply chain - linking information about the producer and the produce into the trading fabric and social media fabric used by consumers.
We support the supply chain by collecting produce data and images while trades are being made between producers and wholesalers.
We tie that sensory data to the trade and send it with trade offers into consumer facing distribution (e.g. retail and food services).
The syncronisation of procurement with sensory information captured at the produce source, allows distributors to share sensory information via social media networks about the produce consumers will experience in store.
Consumers themselves will then contribute to the sensory supply chain through sharing their own digital experience through menu sharing, videos, and pictures - both before and after purchase.
Smartphones are driven by touch and allow us to experience the world through video, sound, images, and stories.
The HiveXchange is making it easier to use the power and reach of smartphones as an essential tool in creating more value in our fresh food supply chains.
Smartphones are only part of the sensory supply chain story.
Artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, and IoT are all changing our supply chains in fundamental ways.
Each of these tools capture data, add value to it, and make our supply chains sentient and responsive to 21st century consumption.
"Supply chain operations are under pressure to adopt new business models and technologies to excel in an increasingly complex and volatile world," says C Dwight Klappich, vice president analyst, Gartner.
"Supply chain leaders must identify where to innovate and invest in new processes and technologies to help their companies remain relevant in their markets."
Those investing and innovating will ensure their enterprises remain competitive in the future.
Gartner supply chain predictions highlight the importance of emerging technologies and where supply chain leaders are finding value.
- Antonio Palanca is the CEO and founder of the online fresh produce trading platform, HiveXchange.