Car interior through a lens

Harmonizing the brand through the help of our senses

For all of us, emotions and feelings play some part when deciding what car to buy, but also when we are driving the car, a great number of impressions stimulate our senses. These affections, particularly those stemming from car’s interior, have been studied from a brand perspective in a new doctoral thesis from Linnaeus University.

In his thesis, Andreas Eklund has studied how sensory marketing can contribute to making a brand being considered more premium, which creates value for both the company and its customers.

“I’ve focused on the experience of the environment via the car’s interior, the part of which the driver takes part. I’ve studied how a company plans and designs an experience, how it is perceived by customers, and how it creates value through a sensory marketing lens”, says Andreas Eklund.

Andreas Eklund has conducted a case study at Volvo Cars, where he has specifically studied their premium model XC90. He has interviewed employees and carried out a survey with customers who own a Volvo, in order to get a multifaceted picture of what creates value.

“The company wants to convey what we call Scandinavian values. They do this by making their cars spacious and by using Scandinavian natural materials like birch, crystal, and leather, which are associated with luxury. The car manufacturer applies a number of sensory stimuli, like vision, touch, sound, and scent, to position its brand”, says Eklund.

The survey with the customers shows that they are often aware of the emotional and symbolic values provided by the brand. These tend to be more important than the actual practical use of the car. Eklund’s study shows that the customers’ feelings, harmony, and sensory impressions form the brand experience, which has a positive effect on the customers’ brand image. This shows that emotional and symbolic values are important for what value the customers attach to the brand.

“All the interior are important for the brand experience; they should interplay with another in order to create harmony. I compare it to a symphony orchestra – the conductor and all the instruments contribute to making the big picture fantastic. One instrument at a time may not be very spectacular, but when they are played together, harmony is created for the audience through all sensory impressions. If all the car’s interior work together a sense of premium is created, the result will be that the brand is also perceived as such. If just a single component in the car’s interior is not in line with the others, this can be enough to make the total experience less good; for instance, that the buttons in the car give a ‘cheap’ sound”, Eklund concludes.

The harmony concept is something that Andreas Eklund focuses on in his doctoral thesis. Much like the orchestra, the car manufacturer uses the interior of the car as a stage, where different parts of the interior attract different senses to create a harmonised brand experience, which in its turn leads to a positive perception of the brand.

Title of the doctoral thesis

Harmonising value in a car’s interior using sensory marketing as a lens.
The thesis can be found on:


Andreas Eklund, email:, phone +4670-461 05 77 (Andreas Eklund now lives in the US)

Carina Sörgårn, communications officer research, email:, phone: +46470-70 85 52