Retailers are racing to stay relevant as the global retail landscape continues to transform. Retail sales continue to be a significant revenue driver for brands – within the context of a growth of e-commerce and emergence of multiple channels – and retailers have to work harder than ever to attract and retain customers.
Consumers have come to expect a premium, seamless, always-on customer experience wherever they come into contact with a brand. Despite the importance of a brand’s online presence, its physical store is just as important to keep customers engaged and happy. Particularly since 85 per cent of shoppers prefer purchasing goods instore to online1. For brands, it has never been more important to strengthen their physical presence and the experience they give to their customers.
The industry has adopted a ‘Total Retail’ concept that challenges retailers to think beyond channels and communicate a unified brand story which is consistent across every point of customer interaction. Rather than being self-serving, brands must demonstrate a real understanding of the emotional connection a consumer builds in a physical environment. But how do retailers successfully create a brand that offers the consumer a ‘Total Retail’ shopping experience?
Many luxury retailers in high-end fashion, beauty, jewellery and automotive, are embracing ‘Total Retail’ by cultivating a unique and memorable shopper experience that matches their brand. Luxury specialty department store, Neiman Marcus, established a physical and digital smart fitting room, giving consumers the opportunity, whether in-store or online, to see themselves in clothing from every angle and side-by-side comparisons. French cosmetics store Sephora opened an innovation lab where consumers are able to experiment and test products, provide feedback and interact with the brand in a creative way. High-end retailers know that customers often connect better with a brand that they feel represents their personal identity or values.
Many retailers are turning to multi-sensory marketing and olfactive branding – appealing to our sense of smell – to help make an impact as soon as they enter a physical store. As premium retailers seek to make their stores more experiential and exclusive, such as Ralph Lauren’s flagship invitation-only store in Milan, scent in a physical store can easily be transferred to consumers who purchase online through scented packaging or products.
For example, Rolls Royce captures the brand’s history by diffusing a blend of mahogany wood, soft leather and oil. This smell alone acts as a sensory cue to remind potential customers of their iconic, signature models, such as the Rolls Royce Phantom2, and the high quality the brand is renowned for. In fact, Premium Scenting’s own study clearly showed how evocative scent can be with 73% of consumers admitting to having a feeling or a memory instantaneously triggered by a smell. Savvy retailers say that their own signature scents increase the emotional association between customer and brand, and this sensory marketing directly translates to higher prices consumers are willing to pay3. Using scent to support a ‘Total Retail’ experience helps to transport the customer on a brand journey that’s always a memorable, consistent and premium experience.
Premium Scenting’s own study also found that 74% of consumers have been drawn into a store because of an inviting smell. Historically the food and beverage and hospitality sector have taken advantage of this – bakeries commonly scent footfall areas with the smell of freshly baked products to entice customers to visit their stores, for example4. But you don’t have to be a bakery to use scent marketing. For example, in every Four Seasons hotel, a signature scent is chosen for in-room amenities based on the geographical location of the particular hotel. The Four Seasons in Maui disperses a lime-based fragrance with notes of tropical flowers and exotic wood which is representative of the natural surroundings and invites the consumer to enjoy a sensory holiday experience. Considering your brand’s geographical location, including the temperature, humidity and cultural preferences can help to develop the most appropriate signature scent for your brand and not only reinforce the ‘Total Retail’ approach but also strengthen brand association through the evocative nature of scent.
No matter the sector, all premium retailers should think ‘Total Retail’ to successfully respond to and keep abreast of the exponential change in today’s retail landscape. Those that structure their business with the customer at the centre will be better equipped to meet the needs of consumers. Whether in-store or online, retailers need to provide a multi-sensory experience that delivers a compelling brand story across all channels. Premium brands need to appeal to all our senses, not just our sense of style.
To read more about the benefits of multisensory retail, download our Ultimate Retail Experience report here: http://www.premiumscenting.com/ultimate-retail-experience/
3 Lindstrom, M. (2005). Brand sense: How to build brands through touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. London: Kogan Page; Lindstrom, M. (2008). Buy-ology: How everything we believe about why we buy is wrong. London: Random House Business Books.
4 Bitner, M. J. (1990). Evaluating service encounters: The effects of physical surroundings and employee responses. Journal of Marketing, 54 (April), 69-82.