Creating visual appeal through merchandising is an age old tactic that works. It can be tempting to focus solely on creating visually stimulating product displays and pass over the other four senses. A key to creating an experiential shopping experience that allows the customer to enter an immersive multi-sensory experience, or what’s known as “sensory branding.” Below we will unpack what it make look like to create a sensory branding experience.
- Sight: This is one of the primary methods to communicate your product message and show your brand presence. There are an endless multitude of visual cues you can utilize. From using colors for their psychological messages / triggers, symmetry, balance, contrast, to leveraging lighting, and focus. Each can direct the initial attention your display garners, control where a customer looks and for how long they look.
When we want to appeal to the eye of a customer we need to create 3 fundamentals… Hook, Hierarchy and Harmony. We need a hook to draw the eye initially. Once we have the customers attention, we need to have a hierarchy to our merchandising that logically directs their eye (think the rule of 3) from the most important parts to the least important. Last, our merchandising needs to employ harmony to provide a natural appeal that exploits color, light, symmetry, depth, contrast and visual balance. If we don’t get “sight” correct, the rest may a bit of a moot point. Of the five senses, this is one of the more intriguing components of visual merchandising.
- Touch: This sense might be one of the easiest to get right. Retailers just need to remember to give customers access to their product and the ability to touch, feel, and try out whatever it is you’re looking to sell. Retailing as a whole is moving toward experiential interactions with customers and we must be able to allow the customers to put their hands on your product. The more expensive the item, the more important this becomes. Getting your product off the shelf and into the customers hands is essential.
- Smell: Scientifically speaking, this sense is one that lasts the longest in our memories. We can remember the scent of a loved one long after we forget the other senses. There’s an entire science behind “scent marketing,” with several studies and several case studies of power-house brands like Verizon, Samsung, and Sony using these techniques to their advantage. Smell is a direct link to our brains that controls both memory and emotion. When we break it down, both memory and emotion are very important factors behind why we select one product instead of a different product from a multitude of options.
- Sound: Audio is often overlooked in most retail environments. One location where we are seeing this pop up with success is the commercials we can now watch at the gas pump. If there is a way to engage this sense, it will help draw attention. Even the music that gets played in a retail store has a dramatic but subdued effect on customers and how they behave at a retail location. It may depend on what you are trying to accomplish, but you can cause a slower browsing from your customers by playing laid back music.
- Taste: Of the senses, most of us are not able to utilize this sense in the positioning of our product. If you are fortunate and happen to be in of a company selling consumables, you are in luck. Giving customers the ability to sample products before they buy is a remarkably effective method that has worked since the beginning of time. It is the equivalent of letting people do a test drive of a car… it works.