The Sense in Scenting
It might not be the first thing that springs to mind when studying the Which? 100 best and worst retailers in the UK, but take a closer look (or indeed, sniff) at the polar positions of Lush, the UK’s favourite retailer, and Halford’s, voted one of the worst, and it soon becomes clear why the cosmetics retailer is coming up daisies.
Along with the ‘friendly, knowledgeable staff’ and ‘high quality products’ cited by the 11,000 shoppers surveyed, in-store experience has never mattered more to retailing, and it was something Which? editor Martyn Hocking was keen to emphasise when speaking on the results of the survey:
"With household budgets squeezed, people are becoming choosier about when and how they purchase products. High street shops cannot afford to give customers poor service if they want to tempt shoppers away from their computers and back to the high street."
The combination of customer service, clean, well presented visual merchandise and an environment than encourages dwell-time will naturally lend itself to a positive shopper experience.
As a cosmetic and beauty retailer, Lush’s products work twice as hard: whether they’re on display or stacked inside, they smell good. From the first step into the store, to picking up and sniffing the product, comparing prices or waiting to pay, the entire customer experience is scented, and it’s here that many retailers are missing a trick.
This week My-Retail Media spoke to Trisha Haughey, managing director of Ambius, a leading ambience creator for businesses, on the benefits of appealing to an oft-neglected sense.
Recent studies have shown shoppers tend to stay longer in a scented environment- and that it could even encourage impulse buys- can you explain what it is about scenting that promotes this behaviour?
A growing number of retailers are adopting innovative techniques to draw customers in and create ‘dwell-time’.The right scents and aromas in a retail environment can have a huge impact on the brand experience. Fragrances can evoke all manner of feelings and emotions, they can put us at ease, bring back fond memories and transport us to another place. If we, as consumers, feel comfortable in a retail environment we are more likely to spend longer browsing and the longer we spend in that environment the more likely we are to buy. Some scenting is used specifically to draw customers to particular product promotions. For example our green grass scent is often used for garden furniture and outdoor living displays.
But retail scenting is not just about dwell time but also about the consumer experience. Of the five senses, smell is the most powerful trigger of emotions, and if a retailer can improve the customer experience through scent then it will create a positive and lasting impression. This reinforces the brand and helps to develop customer loyalty.
We’ve seen this week that a number of high street retailers have a long way to go in creating an appealing consumer experience. Are there any ways which aren’t immediately obvious in which scenting lends itself to a retail environment?
Scenting can be used to create positive associations that are more subtle and less literal than sales promotions. For example a fragrance such as Green Grass could be used in a DIY Store to create the association with freshly cut grass and gardens. The scenting would also have the benefit of eliminating any less pleasant odours in the store.
It’s been suggested that scenting has a 70 per cent higher impact on a brand impression than sight and sound. Would it be correct to say that a retailer’s scent is more important than the music they play in store or even the visual merchandising?
If a retailer is using scent in their store, it will make more of an immediate impression on the customer than music or visual displays. However, scenting needs to be used in combination with all the visual and sound stimuli created by retailers to have the maximum effect – it’s about delivering a total sensory experience and encouraging the shopper to linger for longer.
Tough trading conditions require fresh thinking and creative tactics for retailers. Scent marketing provides a competitive differentiator and a cost-effective tool to enhance the experience and appeal to the ever more discerning and demanding consumer.
Visit our Scenting section for more about Ambius Microfresh.
This article first appeared in My Retail Media Online