Does the smell of baking bread really lift supermarket sales? Would you purchase more French wine if you heard French music in a bottle shop? Mark Larner says yes.
If you saw a display of French and German wines and heard Edith Piaf in the background, would you opt for the French label? A two-week study conducted by Curtin University alternated the music each day between discernibly French or distinctively German and found French music led to French wines outselling German ones and vice versa – and shoppers didn’t realise they had been influenced either way.
Pure Public Relations’ client Mood Media specialises in optimising the customer experience by appealing to customers’ senses. Mark Larner, Head of Innovation at Mood Media, says when these sensory elements are all on brand, it makes for very powerful marketing.
We recently had Mark on Sky News Business’ Marketing Matters program to share his insights on creating the right customer experience to align with a brand.
“It’s important that you look into getting that experience right for your customers because you could spend lots and lots of money on getting people into the store, but then when they’re there they could hear a song that may be offensive to them,” he said.
One of the services Mood Media offers is creating custom music programs, “playlists that suit our customer’s demographics,” as well as in-store radio solutions. This is based on survey results that indicate if a store plays music they like, 72% of participants feel it is a brand they can relate to; for a millennial demographic this figure skyrockets to 87%.
Removing awkward silence also helps, especially in places where customers have to wait. It can also serve other purposes. For example, Mood Media provided carefully chosen music at a certain volume for a private health insurance provider to help mask confidential details discussed with customers over the phone.
Sense and strategy
Creating a sensory customer experience begins with a business’ strategy, said Mark. “It’s all about understanding what are the goals, what are you looking to achieve to enhance that customer experience?”
This means the marketing solution will be as individual as a brand’s unique selling proposition, he noted. “Every single business is different. Every single solution we offer our client is unique, so we work with them… and then we work out which sense is going to be the most powerful. We would look at what is the product you’re looking to sell and how can we market that? Is it going to be sight based, is it going to be sound based? If we look at food and supermarkets, why do they always bake bread at the front of the store?”
If you’re not yet ready to implement a complete sensory overhaul of the customer experience you offer, there are key areas that could do with a little care, Mark said, such as improving the layout of your store to make it more inviting. This may either help customers find what they want quickly or encourage them to stumble upon a new favourite thing they didn’t know existed, whatever your marketing strategy. Offering an attraction such as free wi-fi and pushing digital offers can also cue sales.
And if a customer experience is memorable – for good or bad reasons – many consumers will turn to social media and review sites to share their experience, which makes it even more important for businesses to move from passive marketing to creating an emotional connection.
Everything you do must stimulate positive purchase decisions and leave customers with a good impression – and don’t discount the little things. “We have seen how something that a business may have thought was insignificant, like plastic bags at a supermarket, can be a big deal for a customer – especially if not handled well,” Mark stated.
“‘What does the customer want?’ should always be the focus.”
Mark is right: every sized business has the opportunity to create an emotional connection with its potential clients and existing customers. From how you communicate to your on-hold music – your customer’s experience is determined by the details as much as your delivery of promises. And that can be the difference between making repeat customers and beating the competition in attracting them in the first place.