Improving Retail Dollars And Senses

How can you improve results in retail or branch locations? Think back to your kindergarten days… 

Five Senses From
(from Pete’s Power Point Station,

That’s right, consider all five senses when designing experiences!

I just read an interesting article in US News & Reports called Overspending? Blame Your Nose. It provides a roundup of studies on how the environment can improve retail sales. Here are the items that I found most interesting:

  • Shoppers like scents to match the sounds.
  • Background music increases spending for impulse items like clothes and food.
  • Scents increases spending for high consideration products like cars and computers.
  • Scent and music together can decrease spending.
  • Cool colors (green plants and trees) or warm colors (yellow and red flowers and) can improve consumers’ perception of product quality.

I also ran across another interesting article on (not sure of the date) called Increase Sales with Color, Sound, Taste, Smell and Touch that looked at a number of research studies. Some of the key findings:

  • Warm colors (red, orange, and yellow) generally encourage activity and excitement, whereas cool colors (green, blue, violet) are more soothing and relaxing.
  • Hot, bright colors usually appeal to lower-end markets, which deep, rich colors have historically appealed to higher-end markets.
  • A slow tempo can increase sales as much as 38 percent in retail stores because it encourages leisurely shopping. Alternatively, a fast tempo is more desirable in restaurants because customers will eat faster, thus allowing greater table turnover and higher sales.
  • Likeable and familiar music can induce good moods (and positive attitudes towards products), whereas discordant sounds can create bad moods.
  • The smell of peppermint arouses us; the smell of lily of the valley makes us feel relaxed.
  • Some of our basic emotions are linked to smell. For instance, the smell of the ocean or freshly baked cookies can revive very emotional and key childhood memories.
  • In one study shoppers in a room smelling of flowers evaluated Nike shoes more positively than did consumers in an odor-free room.
  • Research has shown that customers touched by a salesperson are more likely to have positive feelings and are more likely to evaluate the store and the salesperson positively. [Bruce’s note: I’m worried about how this might be implemented ;-)]

The bottom line: Customers have five senses, engage them!

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

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