Create a positive retail customer experience with sensory marketing by nurturing the emotions of shoppers. Emolytics can show you how.


Sensory Marketing in Physical Stores Can Increase Satisfaction

Online shopping is more popular than ever before – but thanks to the ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) Effect, many shoppers stop short of making an on-line purchase. In fact, 90% of retail sales still take place off-line.

As you might expect, many customers use the Internet to comparison shop before leaving the home (72% of millennials research their options before a trip to the mall), but that’s not the whole story. Interestingly, 42% of all shoppers are also doing their online research while in-store – and 36% of shoppers with smartphones ask retailers to price-match on the spot.

But why leave home at all when the big outlets can deliver right to your door?

It turns out that 85% of consumers want to “touch and feel the products” in physical stores before making final purchasing decisions.

These consumers crave personalized attention and prompt customer service, but they also decide where to shop based on how a store makes them feel. Ambience and physical layout can greatly affect a customer’s perception of the experience they had. Brands who understand this make the effort to create comfortable spaces for customers – minimizing undesirable conditions, such as crowding or excessive noise.

But there is much more you can do – by appealing to the senses and emotions of your customers.

Shopping is an Emotional Experience

Research shows that shoppers feel a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative. In one study, positive emotions included excitement, joy, interest, and pleasure, while some shoppers said they felt anger, surprise, frustration, and even guilt or shame. The “happier” shoppers were more prominent in malls and department stores, while negative emotions were most frequently reported by shoppers who visited grocery stores.

Shopping is an Emotional Experience

Researchers speculated that both the atmosphere of a store as well as the reason for the visit played a role in people’s emotional responses. Visits to the grocery store often involve routine tasks and pressure from time constraints, while trips to the mall are more likely to be recreational and fun.

Given these inherent differences between different types of shopping, it makes sense to experiment with more tangible factors that you actually have control over as a store owner or manager.

Things like lighting, sound, and the way merchandise is arranged can all influence a customer’s mood, behavior, and spending habits.

Sensory Marketing Increases Revenue

Aradhna Krishna, a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, is widely regarded as the pioneer of sensory marketing, which she defines as: “Marketing that engages the consumers’ senses and affects their perception, judgment and behavior.”

In Sensory Marketing, a book edited by Krishna, the authors cite studies showing that the tempo of music alters customer behavior in stores, causing them to shop at a slower pace when the tempo is slow. In one experiment, playing slow music in supermarkets increased revenue by 38%. In restaurants, slow music created a 41% increase in beverage revenue.

Music with a faster tempo also stimulated changes in customer behavior, creating a heightened sense of arousal and causing them to act more friendly towards bank employees.

Not surprisingly, it’s not just music which stimulates positive feelings. Tactile, visual, and olfactory triggers can all be used to create a warm and friendly environment that is conducive to buying.

Sensory Marketing Increases RevenueIn Belgium, for example, a ten-day experiment showed that book sales increased by up to 40% when the scent of chocolate wafted through the air. Customers looked at more books and were three times more likely to speak to bookstore employees and ask them questions.

Research has repeatedly demonstrated the emotional impact of colors on consumers in restaurants and different retail environments, while another recent Belgian study called the emotional effect warm lighting has on shoppers (generating feelings of coziness and other pleasurable sensations) “highly relevant when it comes to customer loyalty since positive affect is linked to customer loyalty and word-of-mouth.”

Making subtle (and sometimes bold) adjustments to your own store’s physical environment can be a game-changer – but you won’t really know what’s working unless you’re able to measure the emotional responses of your customers.

Are You Relying on Mystery Shoppers for Customer Feedback? Read this First

Since the 1940s, many businesses have relied heavily on the services of undercover “mystery” shoppers to provide feedback about customer service, adherence to industry regulations, and other aspects of the retail customer experience.

Mystery shopping is currently a 1.5 billion dollar industry worldwide, yet the people actually doing the work (the shoppers) may receive little to no compensation despite the expense to you, plus the great amount of effort that typically goes into compiling a report.

The industry is plagued by other ethical concerns as well – but even when done correctly, mystery shopping is generally slow, expensive, and cumbersome to implement. New technologies available to us today mean that mystery shopping may soon become irrelevant as businesses gain the ability to obtain real-time authentic feedback from genuine customers.

Emolytics Gives You Authentic Customer Feedback You Can Rely On

Emolytics is at the forefront of such trends with customer feedback tools to measure emotional responses and the reasons behind them. Unlike mystery shopping, which only provides you with the perceptions of a few individuals over the course of a year, our scientifically designed feedback technology equips you with powerful data and analytics that can be examined on a daily – or even hourly – basis.

This continuously updated feedback gives you enormous advantages over competitors as you make immediate changes to your store or restaurant’s environment based on what your customers are communicating at any given moment – all fully visible to you on a centralized dashboard that only you can see.

Not All Feedback Technology is Created Equal

Beware, however. Not all emotion analysis technology is equally as efficient. For example, you may have encountered kiosks or terminals which ask customers to press an emoji button corresponding to how they feel. This looks like a great idea… until you realize the many pitfalls.

Although it is a serious concern, let’s ignore for a minute how tempting it may be for children, teens, and even adults to play around with those big, shiny buttons, skewing your customer feedback results.

Not All Feedback Technology is Created Equal

More alarming than this is that most popular terminals in use today do not ask follow-up questions to determine the reasons behind an emotion. This means that customers may express frustration with the services they received, but you won’t ever know why. To complicate matters, it would also be rare for an unhappy customer to feel comfortable pressing the “unhappy” button in front of staff members and other shoppers.

In normal circumstances, the vast majority of unhappy customers (at least 90 percent, according to some sources) will never say a word to you about their displeasure. They will simply take their business elsewhere, resulting in lost relationships worth thousands of dollars.

There are many reasons why customers don’t complain, and chief among them is that most people don’t like confrontation. Even when upset, they don’t necessarily want to have uncomfortable conversations or make other people look bad. Pressing a flaming red “unhappy” button in public is basically an act of aggression that most people would want to avoid.

You Won’t Know the Truth about Customer Satisfaction until You Create the Right Environment

Given the above factors, you have to be a bit more subtle when reaching out to dissatisfied customers, many of whom go online to vent their frustrations. That’s where people feel a bit more free to express themselves.

Emolytics acknowledges these natural tendencies by inviting customers to communicate their emotions in a safe environment. We use several channels to accomplish this, including links and QR codes on in-store posters,flyers, and receipts.

Customers are asked to provide demographic information, including age, gender, and the reason for their visit. KPI questions are included in surveys in order to assess loyalty, satisfaction, brand equity, and other important metrics. Unlike traditional customer satisfaction surveys, however, we go a step further to extract emotions, adding a valuable layer of personalization.

The resultant “Emoscore” works as a guide to help you implement meaningful changes that can help meet customer  expectations and impact the future performance of your business.


These days, smart businesses understand the need to engage customers both online and off, and Emolytics can help out with both.

Request a free consultation with one of our experts – or just try our tool for free!

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