The sensory laboratory supports various research activities related to the impact of sensory aspects and their relationship to marketing, advertising, retailing and sales. As people acquire knowledge of the world through their senses, understanding how the senses impact consumer perception and behaviour has become critically important for marketers. The lab focuses on research that can fulfil these needs.
Our sensory lab is equipped with a range of gear including eye-tracking devices, a portable EEG machine, scent dispensers with over 50 scents available, a virtual supermarket and eight computers.
One of the latest studies conducted in the laboratory by staff members and students allowed participants to physically experience odour through hidden scent machines, as well as visually experience colour and imagery on the walls via a video game styled virtual supermarket. Participants recruited from the community completed a scenario-based grocery-shopping trip through a virtual supermarket via computer. Each participant was asked to conduct a typical shop for three days’ worth of groceries (including food and drink). The aim of the study was to use store atmospherics such as scent, colour and imagery to act as a prime to nudge shoppers toward healthier food choices. It was found that exposure to a herbs and spices scent encouraged increased purchasing of a healthier basket of goods compared to exposure to a sweet bakery scent where health basket composition was lower.
Future research studies could investigate the effects of music, temperature, lighting, textures (including flooring and shelving), materials (including wood and metal), product placement, and merchandising. Essentially any store environmental elements and their impact on shoppers and their decision making can be researched in this sensory lab! In the area of marketing and advertising, the impact of sensory-associated brand cues on the attitude and subsequent behaviour of consumers is also investigated. Sensory research findings are essential in developing a deep understanding of consumer behaviour. Likewise, as sensory research tools become more accessible and available to the public, research in this area is becoming more sought after and common. This makes our department’s sensory lab a real asset.
To give our students a hands-on learning experience, students are given the opportunity to participate in studies within the laboratory as part of their research methods papers. Students are given a full debrief at the end that enables them to learn about the whole research process from beginning to end. This is invaluable to students and commendable feedback is always received.
Last updated: 26-Jul-2017 3.16pm
The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.