How Engaging A Shopper’s 5 Senses Can Increase Retail Sales

Brick-and-mortar retailers and department stores have always been faced with the monumental task of reinventing themselves to attract the new generations of consumers that come of shopping age with every passing decade. The growing  competition with e-commerce outlets is making this perpetual challenge more and more complex.

Consequently, thinking outside that iconic box has expanded marketing boundaries in many directions, including specialized efforts to appeal to a shopper’s five acute senses. While all senses combine to effect our moods and behavior, the sense of smell is proving to be one of the more powerful ways to influence consumer behavior and effect the bottom line of retail environments.

But how do retailers, and the scent marketing companies that service them, best appeal to the five scenes to exact the right consumer response? Our team provides the skinny on how to build the right multi-sensory retail experience and, more importantly, how linearly diffused fragrances coupled with proper molecular odor neutralizing additives can transform a business’ brand impression, heightened value perception, repeat business, customer linger time and much more.

Scent Marketing Retail Stores

Explore our guide to scenting department stores and boutiques!

The Nature of Physical Retail Has Changed

Even though he wasn’t specifically talking about retail when he sang about “the times they are a changing.” boy, did Bob Dylan ever get it right. In the face of a more and more sophisticated consumer, retailers must change the way they interact with their favorite brands, which translates into new tools and battle boundaries when competing with the continued success of e-commerce. Retailers must seek to differentiate themselves from their online competitors by bravely breaking through traditional venues and finding new proverbial boxes out of which to think. 

According to Darren Coleman, founder of Wavelength Marketing and author of Building Brand Experiences: A Practical Guide To Retaining Brand Relevance: “The key is to build multi-sensory experiences in retail that trigger an emotional response before the conscious, cognitive and rational parts of the brain kick in… Senior executives become a bit like kids in a candy store once they realize scent’s potential. They then dive head first into using sound or scent without considering how they are relevant to their brand. The result is disjointed and inconsistent experiences the customers struggle to connect with.”

Modern consumers are shopping with their emotions instead of their wallets, and this trend translates into retailers becoming “culture coders” by nurturing a sense of culture and community among shoppers. Brand image must convey values and world views that match those of their clientele. 

In the words of Peter Grossman in a statement to Quora: “Today, brands need to look more actively and purposefully at the culture buzzing around them—in entertainment, in fashion, in news, on social media—and use that awareness to inform how they should best position and integrate themselves into the world.”

Tips to increase retail sales

Altering the retail landscape for the modern consumer means that brick and mortar retailers must abandon their priorities of yesteryear; that is, the focus on the products themselves. Shoppers today are seeking more engaging experiences, a trend fostered by millennials and their preference for physical engagement over material things. Today’s consumers have high expectations, and they seek shopping venues that cater to their preferences for time saving convenience, an aspect that is satisfied by delivery straight to the door.

This special service has also resulted in the birth of subscription e-commerce, which concerns businesses devoted to providing and shipping products to customers usually on a monthly basis. This model is becoming more and more popular because it benefits both the consumer by making shopping a seamless endeavor and the e-commerce company by providing consistent sales.

The Power of Smell Within Multi-Sensory Retail Experiences

According once again to Darren Coleman: “Smell is the only sense that has a direct link to the brain’s lambic system. That’s important because that is the center of the brain that deals with long term memory and emotion. Brands rely on memories associated with an emotion we feel and this is why scent is so significant when you build brand experiences.”

One dramatic example of how smell influences sales can be found in the success of one of the most powerful coffee house brands; namely, Starbucks. A number of years ago, company SEO, Howard Schultz, realized that the reason coffee sales were rapidly slipping concerned the fact that due to a shift towards sealed, packaged coffee and automated expresso machines, the aroma of coffee was no longer lingering in the air above java lovers’ heads.

Marketing scent olfactory buy button

What is the Olfactory Buy Button?

In Schultz’s own words: “I believe we overlooked the cause and the effect of flavor lock in our stores. But at what cost? The loss of aroma…the loss of our people scooping fresh coffee from the bins and grinding it fresh in front of the customer, and stripping the store of our tradition and our heritage.”

Some Alarming Statistics

According to UBS, a global firm providing financial services in over 50 countries, 7,567 national retail stores have already closed in 2019 with an expected 12,000 by the end of the year. Even worse is the correlation that with each market percent point share rise in online commerce, an expected 8,000 to 8,500 stores will be forced to close. 

By 2026, UBS estimates that 75,000 stores will be forced to bite the dust. Now is the time for all good physical retail stores to come to the aid of themselves, and fight back with a tool that although obvious, is often overlooked. Not even an industrial titan like Amazon with its same day delivery promise can compete with appealing to the consumer with all five senses.

A global survey conducted by Walnut Unlimited, a market research company, indicated that 90 per cent of participating consumers who shop in stores that combine music, visuals and scent to create a ‘multi-sensory’ retail experience are more likely to be lured back into that same store on future occasions. 

Half of the participants said that a business that disperses an in-store scent to its advantage would be likely to lift their mood. The survey interviewed consumers from Australia, Benelux, China, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Scott Moore, global senior vice president of marketing and creative content for Mood Media, believes that the above study also reveals that a consumer’s decision to choose physical retail over e-commerce highlights the need for businesses “to give consumers a reason to get off the sofa and into the store, and part of that reason lies in providing them with an elevated sensorial experience.”

Despite the hardened reality of closure rates, brick and mortar retail stores are still vital to the sales process, although they have transitioned from being primary points of sale into a more expansive strategy that incorporates understanding the dynamic methods consumers use to make shopping decisions and widening the field for brands to capture leads and convert them into sales.

Never Underestimate The Power of Analog

The danger with digital is that retailers can easily go too far or “multi-sensory mad” and forget about the fragility of their connection with the consumer. Digital can be captivating, but it does not address the emotional needs of the shopper. For that reason, analog must always be incorporated in some capacity and never discarded along the path to consumer satisfaction and loyalty.

While it is possible that e-commerce will supplant brick and mortar stores in the future, brands can still shine in real-life retail environments by carefully applying the knowledge of scent marketing experts. In-store events represent one facet of how retail marketers are altering their engagement approach with consumers. 

In 2018, a survey indicated that 75% of 2018 holiday shoppers purchased gift products in store because of the opportunity presented to “see the products in person.” Combined with the power of aroma, real life connections, sometimes referred to as (RLCs), permit the effective inclusion of analog into retail strategies.

scent marketing increase revenue

Discover the top 9 Fall scents being used to increase retail sales!

Retailers are relying more and more on in-store events and activations to build brand recognition and product awareness. The key to success lies in using these time-tested tools correctly. Classes and workshops across all industries are proving to be tremendously powerful real-world marketing tools. 

Some examples include: the grocery chain, Whole Foods, which has initiated healthy eating workshops that have resonated powerfully with a health-conscious public, and Toms Shoes, a brand that invites customers to decorate their shoes during in-store events. Live photo shoots and such at any Apple location garner great public interest and fill up very quickly. Forty five percent of brand marketers implement  real-life events,(“share-worthy experiences/environments”) as part of their brand strategy.

Brick-and-mortar store-front retailers attract and connect with consumers at these live events by developing a database of customer profiles based on visits to the store during live presentations and also via offline purchases. Assorted raffles and giveaways during store visits are successful ways to unobtrusively amass demographic data from store visitors. These offline events when harnessed to the power and expanse of social media transform into viral digital content.

According to Paul Woolmington at Canvas Worldwide: “Digital doesn’t address our emotional needs. Digital meets our more rational desires. It’s faster and easier and lets us keep more control–but as human beings we need out emotional sides satisfied, and obviously that need isn’t being met by our digital experiences. Therefore, in order to balance that, we are seeking the analog more than ever.”

Scenting Retail Environments

Believe it or not, slowly but surely, snail mail is returning to the retail scene. Not to be confused with junk mail, upscale catalogs, personalized coupons and product messages merge with carefully selected mailing lists that are created by omni-channel marketing platforms, which provide customers with a seamless, integrated shopping experience. Collectively, these mailing lists target consumers on the basis of location, education, income and shopping history. The key to snail mail’s new found success is the fact that it works best when combined with laser-focused targeting.

Air Scent International Ambient Scenting Solutions

The first step is to develop an effective scenting program that includes a specific family of scent that reflects the specific brand and nature of the store. Choices include: citrus. gourmand, fruity, outdoorsy, ozonic or a vast array of other fragrant options.

Essential to successful scent-marketing strategies are the additional consideration of the intensity levels of the chosen fragrance and its basic formulation. Ambient scenting represents an untapped opportunity that must be done correctly and carefully from the onset because it can easily backfire and send customers running for the door if the scent is too overpowering. We offer many scenting options suitable to both large department stores and smaller boutiques.

Founded on innovation and the invention of the world’s first fan-operated air-freshener in 1946, our equipment represents the most effective cutting edge technologies, which renders them ideal for ambient branding in both small and large-scale retail settings.

The following represent some of our highly effective ambient-scenting air diffuser systems. 

The Aroma Beam Diffuser

Our Aroma Beam diffuser provides coverage for up to 50,000 cubic feet and works perfectly for large department stores. This cutting edge dry vapor diffuser system utilizes unique cartridges specifically designed for linear diffusion over a period of 30 days. This system comes with a built-in 24-hour battery back-up, on/off timers, and is available in several configurations. The no-spill Scentsia refill cartridges effectively combat malodors and offer a myriad of scent experiences that can be altered for holidays, seasons or themes. Fragrances can be chosen from a large selection or customized individually to suit any retail store.

The Aroma Beam Packaging

The Aroma One Diffuser

The Aroma One Fan Air Freshener is an odor-neutralizing system which annihilates airborne odors and at the same time, offers superior, linear, fragrance enrichment for any small space. It is particular to but not exclusive of restroom-specific malodors. Some of its most desirable features include: a modern design with optimal air-flow; the ability to hold many Air-Scent refill types, including: bottles, liquid can and Solid Square wafers; a top-performing air velocity fan blade and its easy conversion from battery to electric.

Restroom Vaporous Odor Control System

The Aroma Styler HVAC Diffusers

The Aroma Styler, which is also known as the Scent Styler, is another option for scenting large areas and it is both powerful and easy to use. The diffuser fragrances created for The Aroma Styler are known world-wide and are custom made to evoke diverse moods within any retailer’s desired consumer base. Its effectiveness is based on our innovative technology, which converts our Air Wisp liquid scent refills into a dry, invisible vapor that drifts evenly across any large open space.

Scent Marketing Aroma Styler Diffuser

In Conclusion

If you’re scent marketing company or own a business or retail environment that’s looking to scent your establishment, call Air-Scent today. Convert your retail space or your client’s into a tantalizing venue of scents that engage shoppers in multi-sensory experiences that they will not soon forget. Long after the visuals and sound effects have left town, so to speak, your chosen scent will remain in their minds’s eye  …for always.

Final thought about shopping: I went to a general store, but they wouldn’t let me buy anything specific. ~Steven Wright, American Comedian


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