Retailers are tapping into your senses


When you go shopping these days, it's all about the atmosphere.

"You're just, 'oh, that's kind of nice', that smell, or music, whatever it is.  It would keep me in the store longer than if I was just running in somewhere that didn't have that," said shopper Megan Ray.

This is no coincidence.  Retailers are tapping in to your senses.

 "What we're trying to do is create an amazing experience that's unforgettable," said store designer Josue Diaz.

"The retailer tells us who they are by their music, by the sound, by the lighting," explained Deborah Fowler, who researches retail and marketing and is an assistant professor at Texas Tech.

These days, retailers have their own scent, too.

"If it's a nice candle or something like that, I love that," said shopper Vicki Pope.

"Putting an appropriate scent into a space can actually create a much more powerful experience for a customer.  It can generate more sales from a transactional standpoint, and because of this memory trace that we have, this emotional connectional we have to scent, it can create a more loyal customer long-term," explained Roger Bensinger with Prolitec.

It's not just retail stores working overtime on what marketing gurus call atmospheric pressure.  

"The first industries that realized this really were hospitality. Retailers are starting to catch up," said Bensinger.

The experience is always tailor made for the customer the brand is trying to reach.

"You're really tapping on all the senses.  You're going into textures, you're going into color, you're going into actually feeling. And so, the idea is if her lifestyle is about an escape and her dream closet is the place to escape, the store should give you that same experience," said Diaz.

But this technique doesn't always come off smelling like roses.

"Some brands are in your face, loud music, stark lighting, you know, sensory overload," said Bensinger.

"The smells, I'm not sure about that, maybe in the bakery.  As far as the music, I'm not interested at all, really that would not make me want to buy anything," said shopper Pat Andre.

Yet, research shows with most people, this works to keep you shopping longer, and buying more, without you realizing the impact, or how it's done.

"Most customers may not be conscience of what's going on when they walk in, but for the customer, it should be a seamless experience," said Bensinger.

So, is it tough to avoid atmospheric pressure when it comes to products?   

"Once you touch it and hold it you think oh, I've got to own this.  So as long as we're human, atmospherics will always work," said Fowler.

Researchers point out, we use these 'techniques', too, when we fix our hair, put on cologne (or perfume or and makeup), and pick out clothes to wear.  we are essentially selling ourselves and our own personal brand, too.