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Are You Reaching Your Customers with All 5 Senses?

Posted by Kate Seat on 1/8/16 3:24 AM
Topics: college store customer service

Consider a friendly greeting to be just the beginning when it comes to providing a complete customer experience. From a service standpoint, you can also offer a shopping experience that reaches them on a sensory level — including everything from an aesthetically-pleasing layout to product samples or an occasional sweet treat.

In this excerpt from a post on Retail Customer Experience, Ed King explains why one type of customer you may already be very familiar with will come to expect this well-rounded experience in the near future.

A new breed of shopper has emerged—someone MaxMedia affectionately refers to as ACES —the Always Connected, Experience-driven Shopper. These new consumers are transforming markets and shifting paradigms, and now account for more than half of all dollars spent at retail.

These ACES are plugged in, addicted to peer reviews, and are never without smart devices. For retailers that cater to their whims, many see up to a 40% higher conversion rate1 for this fickle group. While ACES cling to their screens, down deep they want to be rewarded when they choose to shop in person instead of online. They expect a store to seamlessly integrate with technology, but also want an experience where they can taste, touch, talk, try on or try out something before they buy it. That is why they come to the store, after all.

Ninety-five percent of shopping and buying decisions are made in the non-conscious2 and the five senses are the biggest triggers. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell each stimulate voluntarily and involuntarily reactions in the brain. With the rise of neuromarketing, which blends consumer behavior with neuroscience, retailers are learning how to gain an advantage with these ACES in retail and beyond.

MaxMedia’s proprietary Emotional Experience CENTER Model helps retailers to plan retail experiences that better set up the “buying brain.” This unique algorithm gives us access to these elusive non-conscious motivators of shoppers. Let’s dig further into the T or Tactile dynamic of our CENTER model.


Old Post Bookstore As one might expect, the first factor in determining “if it’s Tactile” focuses on the sense of touch. The ability to rub fingers across fabric to determine quality is the greatest advantage over shopping online. While color or shape might attract us, our touch confirms our prejudgments. This sense is especially important for clothing retailers or other products where contact directly with the skin occurs.

The sense of sight is another significant focus. Seventy percent of the body’s sense receptors reside in the eyes, and more than 25% of the brain is involved in visual processing—more than any other sense. The retail experience provides ways to better understand scale, see colors, view different angles, and eyeball the products intended for purchase.


UVU Heats up Buyback with Hot Cocoa

Taste is the next sense to address in retail, whenever possible. It’s the most direct way to release dopamine, the beautiful neurotransmitter responsible for passing signals in between the nerve cells and making us feel good. Really good. It’s why high-end home outfitter Pirch employs two full-time chefs to create dishes to share in its kitchen section: to let shoppers taste the results of using its cooking wares.

Grandma’s basement. A first love’s perfume. Fresh popcorn. While smell only commands 1% of the brain, this sense is like a mental time machine. Studies show that 65% of people will associate a certain memory to a scent one full year after smelling it. Therefore, it’s important to get the right smell to match the brand, and know how to take advantage of this sense to stir memories, dreams, and feelings of aspiration.

Don’t ask Pavlov’s dogs about how hearing can trigger a reaction. This sense is also strongly associated with memories, just like adults naturally smile upon hearing the familiar tune of an ice cream truck. Be careful, however: Sound shouldn’t startle or scare, lest you create a negative experience that would fire an involuntary fight or flight response.


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