Moving the Multi-sensory Brand Experience Beyond Retail

Engaging multiple senses has proven to be very profitable for most brands. They get to create an emotional connection with their customers and increase their bottom line. Consider this example: a credit card company reported a 70% increase in new accounts after introducing a credit card for millennials that was designed to inspire an emotional connection.

The idea of luring customers in with enticing smells and sounds isn’t new. In fact, today’s tech advancements make it easier than ever to craft a true multi-sensory brand experience. However, retail is almost exclusively the only industry making a push for multi-sensory experiences.

To move the multi-sensory brand experience beyond retail and into corporate offices, hotels, schools, healthcare facilities and parks, we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to follow when crafting your multi-sensory strategy:

Start with Scent

When it comes to engaging customers or employees, scent is the most powerful hook. Decades of research back up the well-known link between scent and memory. With technology as it is today, it’s surprisingly easy and affordable to disperse your chosen odors throughout any kind of environment.

Stick to simple, one or two note scents for the best results. Research conducted by Washington State University found that non-complex scents provided the biggest boost to retail sales. This is sure to carry over to non-retail environments. Complex scents can be distracting, making them a less than ideal choice for an airport lobby or hotel waiting area with high traffic. Simple scents also tend to connect the most strongly to emotional reactions.

If you decide to go with a complex combination scent, make sure to use only one and make a signature element in your brand experience. Singapore Airlines, for instance, uses a custom blended scent for everything – it’s what the cabin crew wears and what’s used for scented towels.Though the scent is complex, it creates a continual effect that is never distracting or overwhelming. Remember, a multi-sensory brand experience should never overwhelm the user.

Moving the Multi-sensory Brand Experience Beyond Retail

Spice Up the Visual

Visual attractions are the base of the brand experience for most companies. Non-retail environments, however, tend to minimize visuals when they’re trying to share a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Non-retail content such as movie listings and flight arrival and departure times should be visually appealing. Following basic digital signage design guidelines and leveraging technology such as 4K displays and video walls will stimulate sight and allow you to draw attention to your screens without compromising on the information you’re communicating.

Combining visuals of waving fields of grain while piping in the smell of freshly baked bread can not only calm a group of travelers but can also influence the travelers to purchase from your airport bakery.

Introduce Interactivity

Interactive screens are one of the best ways to engage touch. In fact, they engage the senses of both touch and sight. Interactivity goes a lot further than just encouraging customers to buy something. Some of the most valuable uses of interactive digital signs occur outside the retail world e.g. check-in kiosks at hotels, convention centers, hospitals. These systems mimic the experience of using a smartphone or tablet, making them high-engagement centers for customers.

Remember your non-retail space is already engaging your visitor’s sense of touch whether you realize it or not. Every step they take, every time they sit on a seat or lean against a counter, they’re “feeling” your business. A simple choice like installing carpet or hard flooring goes a long way in influencing whether your customers see your brand as welcoming or not. Soft furnishings send a comforting message, while smooth and even uncomfortable surfaces alienate customers.

Taste is Tricky

For retail environments, taste is often included in the multi-sensory brand experience through free snacks, drinks, and product samples.

While this can be done in the non-retail world, it’s significantly more difficult. You may have to settle for invoking the memory of flavors instead through the other senses. The scent of a favorite food alone can make a person feel like they’re eating that particular dish, so consider leaning harder on scent if you’re lacking in snacking opportunities.

Retool Your Soundscape

Finally, don’t assume that background music is the only way to engage the ears of your guests. Piping in calming music has been a tried and tested technique at hospitals and airports. To really take the soundscape to a new level, try immersive soundscapes that feature underlying beats and tones designed to directly stimulate the brain.

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