How to use sensory marketing to increase sales in retail

Engaging your customers five senses through sensory marketing could improve your retail profit.

As technology and innovative design techniques continue to evolve, there have never been more ways to arrange, decorate, and brand a retail store. But what is the best way to do it?

Methods of merchandising will be the most effective if you are able to engage all of a potential customer’s senses through design, in an approach known as sensory marketing.

How does sensory marketing work in retail?

Sensory marketing is attempting to engage all five senses with your marketing techniques. In retail, this amounts to making sure the design, appearance, and layout of your store is geared towards your customers’ senses in an effective way.

Retailers use sensory marketing as a psychological way of influencing customer behaviour with the end goal of increasing sales. As t-shirt printing company Printsome note, sensory marketing has a ‘subconscious influence’ on consumers and they say ‘if your brand appeals to three senses rather than just one you are three times more likely to make a sale.’

And it’s not just for big brands; smaller retailers can hugely benefit from it too. So here are the best ways to target each of the five senses with your store design and branding, and the reasons it will literally pay off.

Make attention-grabbing visual displays to engage the sense of sight

Lavish, over-the-top, or unusual designs are effective in capturing the attention of a customer. As retail support giant OCS note in their blog The Psychology Behind Store Design, visual aspects of a store can have a huge effect on the emotional and psychological state of a shopper.

The Hyundai Department Store in South Korea, for example, enlisted the help of retail design agency Prop Studios to create an attention-grabbing store design for their Around the World in 80 Days-inspired display.

The result was a series of large-scale installations, including a whale and a Penny Farthing bicycle adorned with plant pots.

Aside from big, attention-grabbing designs, the sense of sight can be engaged through your colour scheme, even in simple floor displays. According to Forbes, each colour has a different meaning to a consumer. Orange is associated with good value, pink can make people calm, but use too much white and they may find your store boring.

Let customers handle products to engage the sense of touch

This is easier or harder depending on what kind of wares you are selling. Clothes stores can easily allow browsers to feel the variety of different materials and textures, but jewellers might have a problem with hanging all of their expensive pieces out for patrons to grab.

There is a lot of value in allowing customers to touch the products they may be purchasing though. According to research from retail insights firm Leapfrogg, a large percentage of shoppers think it is very important to physically handle things they are considering purchasing. The products they find this most important in were furniture (where nearly 75 per cent wanted to feel the products first) and jewellery.

Appealing to a customer’s sense of touch doesn’t necessarily mean leaving all your products out on shelves, or working fancy textures into your displays. It just means bearing in mind the added advantages of letting customers touch items, and making sure that option is available to them in some way or another.

Use music to engage the sense of hearing

The music you play (or don’t play) in your store can make a lot of difference to the way customers view your brand, and even to whether or not they decide to make purchases.

To pick the perfect soundtrack, you need to have a clear idea of what your target audience would want to hear, and what kind of image you want your store to have. Research from suggests that stores selling high end, luxury goods like jewellery should play the more sophisticated tones of classical music or jazz.

Whatever genre you choose as your shop’s soundtrack, you should be wary of choosing anything too uptempo, as this can cause customers to become bored or impatient when waiting in queues, or too panicked to stay in the store and make a purchase.

Give out free samples to engage the sense of taste

Most appropriate for stores that sell food, giving away small helpings of delicious treats will stimulate a consumer’s taste buds. Free samples could encourage shoppers to buy a bigger portion of whatever it is they just ate, or simply remind them that they are hungry, and should probably buy some food.

Giving out taster portions also portrays your brand as generous and confident in its ability to cook up scrumptious snacks. If you don’t sell food, you could still give food away. Customers would likely appreciate it, but it might send mixed messages about what you do.

Use pleasant scents to engage the sense of smell

It may sound surprising, but some retailers do use scents as a way to increase sales. Known as ‘scent marketing’, this marketing tactic involves retailers settling on scents that define their brand.

Florida-based bank Ocean Bank, for example, carried out smell tests to find the perfect scent for their branches, finally deciding on a fragrance appropriately named Ocean Blue. The Lincoln brand of motor vehicles has concocted its own ‘Essence of Lincoln’ smell to help ‘reinforce its brand identity with customers.’

Though a more experimental technique than the other efforts, engaging the sense of smell could be one of the most effective forms of sensory marketing yet.

Article provided by modestmoney.

Further reading on sensory marketing

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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