Every day our senses guide us, like intricately connected road maps through our world. Sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell, guide us through our days, creating the realities that we live in. Much of the time, our senses tell us all the same story. For instance, if a crowd of people are shown a large school bus, they are likely to agree that the bus is yellow. However, if you were to give these same people a bowl of fresh strawberries the responses will no doubt differ. Some will perceive the berries as sweet. Others will find them bitter. This trend would become even more pronounced if you were to spray each individual with the same perfume. Some people will love it, others will hate it, and each person is likely to compare it to a completely different aroma.
The senses of touch and sight tend to be far more objective than those of smell and taste. I often wonder if this is a result of those senses usually being equated to very personal experiences. A crowd of people will see a bus, but the strawberry that passes your lips belongs to you alone. The bus’s color is
also very easy to describe. "Yellow" is a simple concept. Your mind does not need to linger on this memory very long to decide exactly what it saw. The taste of a fresh strawberry, however, takes some thought and vocabulary skill to describe. Words like "sweet", "tart" or "juicy" can begin to describe the taste of a strawberry. But how would you differentiate it from a cherry or a peach with words alone? Since it is unlikely that you will have to describe the taste of your food in such great detail, these complex thoughts are usually shuffled into simpler terms. Taste becomes "good" or "bad".
When you stop and think about how complex the flavor of one fruit can be, it becomes daunting to describe a complex aroma, such as a perfume or fragrance. To recognize these scents, your mind automatically searches them for familiar notes and qualities. These aromas have already been labeled in your mind as "good" or "bad", "sweet" or "sour". Your past experiences will have a hand in determining whether this fragrance suits your personal taste. The color of the item, or its packaging gives your brain clues to the possible aroma that you are about to encounter. The expectations you have when opening a bottle of perfume, picking up a bar of soap, or popping a hard candy into your mouth, have a huge influence on the overall experience.
Because expectations play such a big role in perceptions, the packaging, description, and presentation of your product must be spot-on to ensure that your customer has the experience you want them to have when they first encounter your product. For instance, a soap that is colored red, and packaged in a box that is covered with flowers, gives a customer certain expectations. Whether these expectations are satisfied when they open the box will have a huge impact on their fondness of the product. Putting a pine scented soap in such a box may leave the customer feeling cheated. Even if the soap smells wonderful and is very high in quality the customer may never enjoy it.
If you put a lemon scented soap in this packaging, the customer may imagine floral notes in the soap without them being there. Clever packaging can work to your advantage in this way. By coloring the product or packaging to match the quality or aroma that you wish to highlight, you can enhance the experience without over-scenting the product.