Let’s face it–COVID-19 has disrupted a lot of traditional marketing techniques. Although it may seem as though once the pandemic dies down, these methods are going to resuscitate, the truth couldn’t be farther away. Brands have to adapt to the shifting landscape of business strategies and customize their existing marketing techniques to reach an audience that has been transformed by the pandemic.
One brand that’s doing it right–and has been doing it right for a while now, even before the pandemic–is Lush. Lush, a British cosmetics retailer, is known among the Gen-Z and millennial female demographic as the store with the trendy black-and-white interiors, artfully stacked products, and soap bars that have no business looking that fancy. But above all, it is known as the only store that you can smell from a mile away.
Raspberries, almonds, and coconuts all swirled into one, the scent of its wildly colorful products draws me in every time I pass the store. As soon as I step in, the vivid pinks and blues and oranges overpower my eyes so much so that for a second I almost think dropping $17 on a “shampoo bar” is reasonable. But that’s not all– demos are available on request, and if you’re lucky enough, you might walk in just as soon as a sales associate drops a bath bomb into an in-store bathtub, the water fizzing satisfyingly and turning into every color of the rainbow before settling into a pleasant shimmer.
What Lush is really doing here is creating a unique shopping experience that most consumers immediately associate with the brand. It’s using the human senses–specifically sight, smell, sound, and touch–to construct an experience that’s not only memorable but unforgettable.
Research shows that our senses play an important role in determining the decisions we make without our conscious awareness, a phenomenon known as “embodied cognition.” Aradhna Krishna, head of the Sensory Marketing Laboratory at the University of Michigan, found that two or more senses amplify an experience if they are complementary to each other. And so when smell, sight, and sound all come together in Lush, customers begin to correlate the brand with a more positive, wholesome feeling.
Another example of a company that has adapted to new, unique marketing and branding methods is Fenty Beauty, which is renowned for its inclusive cosmetic products that cater to people of all skin colors. Fenty Beauty allows virtual customers to take an online quiz to determine the right shade for their foundation by asking them to choose the model with the closest skin color. This experience of being able to determine your foundation shade–and having over 40 shades to choose from–without having to physically visit a store fits right in with its fierce philosophy of diversity, equity, and inclusion–a powerful representation that gives it a business edge over any of its competitors.
Brand experiences are one of the most important and powerful aspects of creating a brand identity. Lush implanted itself in its target consumers’ minds as a fruity, colorful, ultra-cool place to buy cosmetics by creating a sensory fiesta through its signature scents and shades. Done right, brand experience marketing can create a huge difference in a company’s visibility and sales–and ultimately, its success as a business venture.
 “The Science of Sensory Marketing,” Harvard Business Review, February 17, 2015, https://hbr.org/2015/03/the-science-of-sensory-marketing.