In a fiercely competitive marketplace, retailers need new strategies to stay relevant and profitable. How do you keep your store stuck in the shopper’s mind even when she isn’t physically there? Obviously, your store must sell quality products at fair prices, but if that were the only criterion for a great sales strategy you’d never have to worry about creative marketing or retail design. Every store would simply be a big white room lined with products – advertisements would merely be data sheets for individual products. Retail would be, in a word, boring.
Here in the real world, retailers need to appeal to the shopper’s senses. To her good sense of fashion, her good economical sense, but also to the more literal senses of sight, sound and smell. The Firefly blog tends to focus on the aspect of visually appealing to customers, but today the spotlight is on scent. The olfactory sense probably gets the least recognition for its importance in the retail experience, but most of the top brands in the world use scent diffusers as part of their marketing strategy – and they’re seeing excellent results. Firefly’s scent cubes and oils make this powerful tool affordable without sacrificing quality.
Take a look at how aromas can positively affect the shopping experience.
Learning from the best
Whether it’s restaurants, airlines, hotels or clothing retailers, the biggest, most profitable brands on the planet are incorporating scent into their overall selling strategies. Cinnabon, which is worth over $1 billion according to The Wall Street Journal, makes scent one of its top priorities. When speaking to that newspaper, the CEO of Cinnabon Kat Cole, said that they place their ovens at the front of stores to lure in customers. When they tried placing the ovens at the back of the stores, sales dropped significantly. Of course, Cinnabon sells food, not retail merchandise, but there’s still much to take away from this example. You can’t ignore the fact that smells make an appealing sales pitch all on their own.
In another example of the power of aromas, the book “Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture,” told how some Japanese office buildings will gently waft pleasant scents through the ventilation system in the late afternoon. The idea being that the scents will reinvigorate employees during those hours of the day when energy levels begin to flag. Does the same notion apply to the retail experience? According to research conducted at Washington State University, it does.
When speaking to AdWeek about scents, marketing professor Eric Spangenberg said, “It keeps people in the store longer, they enjoy it more and they express more positive intentions to return.”
If you need further proof of the power of smell the retail space, look no further than Coco Chanel. According to AdWeek, the world-renowned fashion designer would spray her boutique with her No. 5 scent before opening the doors for business. You can replicate this time-tested method using a scent cube from Firefly and oil that matches the unique theme of your brand.
When thinking about the background ambience of your establishment, you should seriously consider the soundscape. Like the aroma of your store, sounds can play a subtle yet powerful part in the shopping experience. In Jochen Strähle’s book “Emotionalizing Fashion Retail,” he wrote that slow-tempo music can lead to customers slowing down and taking their time to look at products. And the longer they stay in the store, the more likely they are to make a purchase. “Place Advantage” confirms this notion and adds that the speed of your store’s music should match that of a relaxed heartbeat. According to the book, a piece of music with 50 to 70 beats per minute mimics a tranquil heartbeat.
Sara Manuelli’s book “Design for Shopping: New Retail Interiors” examined how retail spaces can feel less like a shop and more like a communal space. Visually, a store’s layout needs to project a certain level of comfort, one in which shoppers don’t feel pressed to make quick decisions. The space should encourage people to hang around for a little while – after all, nothing draws in new customers like seeing other shoppers already in the store. Music plays its part too, staying in the background but generating a feeling of calm and comfort. When it comes to creating a welcoming environment, special touches like a playlist that complements the store’s sights and smells can have a huge impact on buying habits.
Tying it all together
Simply adding a random scent to your boutique will not automatically draw in customers or make them like your store more. It’s a tool that should be used to add to the overall theme of your store, which means it won’t necessarily be consistent throughout the year. For example, some big brands will use a signature scent year-round, but you may want to consider changing yours with each passing season. Firefly has a number of different oils that can add to various themes. For example, if your store fixtures and displays are all exhibiting a summer theme, you will probably want a light citrus scent to match. In the autumn months you’ll change your displays, so why wouldn’t you also change your music and aromas? When everything works together, it signals to your customers that your store has a fine attention to detail, which gives them more faith in the products you sell and the services you render.
“Scents should add to your theme, not overpower it.”
Above all, remember that scents are part of the background – they should add to your theme, not overpower it. Aromas that are too strong could easily have the opposite effect that you intend.
When planning the theme of your store, don’t neglect it’s aural and olfactory elements. A strong visual display is complemented by background aromas that please the senses. Customers will come back to your store because of the good feelings and comfort they felt on their previous visits. It’s attention to small but important details like these that will set your brand apart from the competition.