Engage the Senses When Face-to-Face Marketing

Feel. Taste. See. Smell. Hear.

When used in unison, the senses can be a powerful tool on the trade show floor. Together, they can enhance the overall experience for attendees and drive engagement.

Professionally, sensory marketing refers to the use of these five stimuli to create a positive emotional response and to influence consumer behavior. When used correctly, these powerful triggers can influence perception, attitudes, and behaviors.

A Rockefeller University study found that our short-term memory retains 35% of what we smell, 15% of what we taste, 5% of what we see, 2% of what we hear, and 1% of what we touch. Similarly, researcher Martin Lindstrom reported that brand impact increases by 30% when more than one sense was engaged, such as through visual and auditory cues, visual and olfactory senses, or olfactory and auditory strategies. Engagement rises by 70% when a brand message appeals to three senses.

With these studies in mind, why isn’t sensory marketing a larger part of the face-to-face marketing conversation?

There are several reasons why sensory marketing is effective in the trade show space and should be used more aggressively. At its core, sensory marketing creates a more immersive and engaging experience. Uses and examples of sensory marketing can vary widely, and creativity is nearly endless.


Visually appealing and striking booth designs are at the core of what many exhibit houses do. By creating a beautiful or unique aesthetic, attendees are naturally drawn in, and their interest is piqued. From LED lighting to enormous displays, appealing to our sense of sight has been a tried-and-true endeavor since the beginning of trade shows.


Why does your favorite movie feature its soundtrack? Music amplifies our emotions, good or bad. Utilizing music and sound in your trade show booth can create an atmosphere and subconsciously appeal to attendees.


Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked goods. On the other hand, you could probably go without smelling your officemates leftover microwaved fish. Appealing to attendees’ sense of smell is a surefire way to engage with them. Exhibit Concepts has been using scent diffusers in its booths for a few years now; whether you’re emulating the smells from your favorite bakery or trying to transport to a spring meadow, utilizing the power of scents can do wonders for setting scenes and eliciting emotions.


If you’ve ever been on a trade show floor, you’ve seen many exhibitors appealing to attendee’s tastes. Whether it’s finger foods and cocktails or coffee and donuts, hospitality has become a common trick of the trade. Additionally, exhibitors can use these friendly freebies as a way to reinforce their brand messaging. For example, just look at the tactics used at Sweets & Snacks Expo.


It’s one of the most important senses on the trade show floor, the timeless handshake. From its classic beginnings to today’s use of demo stations and touch screens, touch has become one of the most common senses to appeal to. Similarly, tchotchkes and giveaways appeal to our sense of touch. When attendees can feel and hold something or even take it home with them, you’re creating a lasting impact.

While sensory marketing tools can help increase the overall enjoyment on the trade show floor and drive engagement, utilizing the senses can also have a lasting impact on your trade show program. Sensory marketing has been shown to enhance overall brand awareness, increase attendee satisfaction, and drives sales.

Whether it’s touch, taste, sight, smell, or even listening, there is evidence to support the effectiveness of sensory marketing in nearly all face-to-face environments. Similarly, the use of interactive technology, such as virtual and augmented reality, can create an even more immersive and engaging experience for trade show attendees.

Overall, sensory marketing has proven to be an effective tool for exhibitors for the last several decades and it’s showing no signs of losing its luster. When planning your next trade show, keep sensory marketing in mind to create a lasting brand impression. 

Picture of Karimey Berbach

Karimey Berbach

Karimey Berbach is an experienced marketing professional and the current Marketing Director at Exhibit Concepts. With over a decade of experience in the marketing and events industry, Karimey has developed a keen eye for creating innovative and effective marketing strategies that help businesses succeed. In her role, she oversees all aspects of Exhibit Concepts' marketing efforts, including brand development, lead generation, and digital marketing. Karimey is passionate about helping companies tell their stories and connect with their audiences in meaningful ways.


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