Today, consumers are bombarded with so much information about products, that discovering a great new brand by chance is a rare thing. Can less branding help with product sampling?

This is due to what world renowned sociologist Georg Simmel referred to as ‘sensory overload’. Simmel wrote about an urban scenario of constantly appearing stimuli (marketing) that triggers our brains’ senses and suggested that a barrier (subsequently referred to as Simmels Barrier), should be erected to protect the individual from over stimulation; and it seems that advertisers agree.

A growing number of companies are helping consumers make their own decisions about products by removing some of the branding (stimuli). For example, online bookseller Uncovered sells books by showing readers an excerpt, rather than the title, author, or book cover.

Follow your nose

Italian cosmetics brand Desirée has identified a particular marketing element as its ‘Simmel’s Barrier’ to protect customers from sensory overload.

product sampling

In a bid to create an emotionally led, rather than brand-focused experience when shopping for perfume, Desirée has opened its first concept fragrance store in central Milan, where perfumes are organised by scent, rather than brand.

The outlet has decanted all of its fragrances into nondescript tester bottles, and placed each into one of seven olfactory categories – such as floral, citrus and woody – according to certain notes or characteristics.

The simple packaging prevents customers from being subconsciously guided towards the most expensive perfumes, like they might be in another store. Instead, assistants guide customers through the options available, helping them to find their perfect scent while also teaching them about the different qualities that make up a perfume.

Shoppers only discover the name of their chosen scent once a decision has been made and they’ve taken their chosen perfume to the counter.

Echoing the fashion notion of ‘stealth wealth’, in which subtler products and less overt branding trump obvious status symbols, the store concept places emphasis on the idea of personal discovery, rather than guiding customers via specific branding tactics.

The store is not concerned with up selling the most profitable brands, but helping consumers discover the product that’s right for them. This personalised, refreshing approach to marketing is sure to attract a lot of attention and serve the brand well.

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