Sensory Suggestion - Power Selling

What a wonderful web we (consumers) weave.

 An insightful statement, a challenge for all those who seek to service consumers, and a task to ensure that motivations, needs, wants, perceptions and buying habits are recognised and understood.

Within context, sticking to the knitting is pertinent, albeit with a somewhat refined and refocused application. Widespread current under-performance is and materially influencing reviews of operations, the recalibration of marketing strategies and evaluations of just how little is known and understood of primary, secondary and tertiary targeted consumers and clients.


The importance of emotions and subjective expectations has been long-recognised by marketers.

Price alone is neither a virtue, nor an effective or sustaining magnet for consumer and client visits or, sales, revenues and profits. For example, some 42% of consumers purchasing wine, when hosting guests, have their selection influenced, if not primarily determined by the price range.

A self-declared lack of product knowledge and inability to assess value are instrumental in such people narrowing their choices to an acceptable price range, so that they avoid the embarrassment of offering inappropriate and inadequate wine.

Thus, it is not about price, bargains or discounting, but rather, a perceptive sense or measure of value.

Many Australian wine brands suffer from an absence of or deficiency in the brand marketing of locations such as Champagne, Burgundy and Arras in France.

The wine bottle label text description of the content is important and influential. Imbibers of wine like to talk about the wine, its attributes and qualities. Therefore, references to the taste, smell and the presence of vanilla, orange and leather are catalysts for extended conversations, and reflect positively on the knowledge of the host. Sensory suggestions indeed.

However, the overriding challenge for vignerons, distributors and resellers is to have specific wine brands, categories and bottles put figuratively and literally into the hands of consumers.

It is estimated that more than 85% of the thousands of vineyards scattered throughout Australia do not trade profitably, and are economically unviable.

Making great wines, even good tasting ones, is secondary to stimulating the senses of consumers.


 Marketing honey highlights the importance of sensory suggestions and consumer perceptions.

“Manuka” honey has several laudable aspects, including medicinal benefits, great taste and unique, eucalypt aroma.

New Zealanders are claiming territorial, intellectual property and botanical rights to the product. Shades of the lost opportunities with Kiwi fruit!

Seemingly, little respect has been assigned to the historical probability that the seed pods of the Manuka trees were carried across the Tasman Sea by the prevailing trade-winds.

The sensory suggestions being promoted by Australian honey producers and retailers for Manuka honey are being challenged by New Zealanders.

The basic product, and its composition, have been lost in an emotional, assertive argument which is largely determined, and influenced by sensory and suggestive properties.

It will doubtless be difficult for consumers to discern, sense or distinguish differences in the taste, texture and colour of New Zealand Manuka honey, that emanate from New Zealand, compared to those which are from the eastern states of Australia.

Sensory suggestions will have a key role in the marketing, rather than the legal success related to this product.


Global sales and consumption of beer have been consistently and progressively declining. Craft beers have been the exception. It seems that consumers, Australians and New Zealanders in particular, have developed a taste and appetite for smaller volume craft beers.

National brands including Victoria Bitter, Fosters, XXXX and Swan have suffered waning interest and demand.

Until the 1990s beer tastes in Australia were predominantly regional in nature. The top-selling brands in Queensland were related to Castlemaine, for New South Wales it was Tooheys, South Australians supported West End and Western Australians favoured, among others, Emu.

In more recent times the craft nature of imported Corona, with its conspicuous lemon slice adornment, has enjoyed strong sales and sustained growth.

Similar to coffee and the marketability of individual baristas, craft beers promote, and are accepted as offering unique tasting – sensory appealing – brewer-customised products. Those are the facts...... - - or the prevailing perceptions and sensory suggestions.


The marketing of gluten-free food is another matter entirely. Few senses are stimulated because of the absence of gluten in food, beer and whisky.

Interestingly, sales growth for this sub-category is consistently strong. It seems fashionable, with certain supposed health benefits. The latter point has recently been challenged.

The biggest challenge for coeliacs, who are gluten-intolerant, is to ensure food providers, restaurants in particular, comprehend the nature of the condition and the dramatic consequences when the need for exclusion of any trace of gluten is not adhered to.

Cross-national and cross-cultural interactions have been shown to have unfortunate outcomes.

Enquiries about, and demands for food to not contain flour can be, and have been, misinterpreted to relate to the absence of flower/s.

Removal of floral adornments does not equate the need for an absence of flour in the ingredients.

Phonics can be so deficient, and it is hard to swallow heart-felt apologies because of unintentional misunderstandings.


 Consumer demand, preference, satisfaction and loyalty are products of adroitly applied and reinforced sensory suggestions.

Recipes, ingredients or physical characteristics (beyond labelling and gluten-free offerings) have important, but secondary roles.

The composition and packaging of value, quality and relevance is a complex art-form. It can be founded on, or enhanced by sensory suggestions. 

Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

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