Sensory experiences drive 9 out of 10 shoppers back to stores

Sensory experiences drive 9 out of 10 shoppers back to stores

9 out of 10 shoppers say they are more likely to revisit stores that leverage music, visuals and scent, according to new research.

A recent survey from Mood Media reveals consumer attitudes toward the in-store customer experience as well as in-store shopping behaviours. The report, entitled  “Elevating the Customer Experience: The Impact of Sensory Marketing,” found that 78 percent of shoppers globally say an enjoyable in-store atmosphere is a key factor in their decision to choose in-store over e-commerce.

A follow-up to Mood Media’s 2017 State of Brick & Mortar report, the new study was undertaken by Walnut Unlimited, the global market research agency specialising in neuroscience and behavioural psychology and economics, and surveyed more than 10,000 consumers across 10 countries worldwide including Australia, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), China, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In addition to examining recent shifts in consumers’ impressions and expectations of in-store retail, the 2019 study explores the impact of a store’s atmosphere – including sensory elements – on the overall shopping experience, as well as what drives certain customer behaviours, such as revisiting a store or making a purchase. The study also explored customer insights across six different sectors: banks, beauty, fashion, grocery, pharmacy and quick service restaurants (QSR).

Some additional highlights of the study’s key global findings include:

  • Combatting the e-commerce effect: 78 percent of shoppers cite an enjoyable in-store atmosphere plays a key factor in opting to make purchases in-store over online (Spain is most influenced, with 89 percent of shoppers more likely to purchase in-store).
  • The influence of sound: Music is the number one factor to improve a shopper’s mood in-store, and has an overall positive impact on 85 percent of global shoppers. However, the quality of the music played really matters. More than half (57 percent) of shoppers will disengage if brands make poor music choices.
  • Encouraging behaviour change: Combining music, visual and scent sensorial elements increases consumer dwell time, with 75 percent of consumers citing they’ve stayed longer in a store when such components were in place.
  • Building customer loyalty: nine out of 10 consumers have decided to return to a store because they enjoyed its music, visuals and scent combination.
  • Scent psychology: 1 in 2 global consumers say that a nicely scented business “lifts my mood.”
  • The power of visual content: Over half (58 percent) of consumers globally say that engaging video content has a positive impact on their shopping.
  • The importance of interaction & personalisation: The ability to touch, feel and try different products or services is cited as the biggest driver in making consumers more likely to want to buy something while shopping in-store (at 56 percent). More than a third of global consumers (38 percent) say “feeling like the experience is personalised to me” makes them more likely to purchase something, which was the second biggest driving factor ranked.

The report also uncovers differences in the ways shoppers around the world respond to the in-store atmosphere, finding that consumers in China and Spain most positively react to an enjoyable in-store environment. While 90 percent of consumers across the globe are likely to revisit a store if it has an enjoyable atmosphere, those numbers are even higher in China and Spain (93 percent and 95 percent respectively). And while scent was found to have a strong impact on shoppers in all of the countries surveyed (65 percent globally), it was most memorable in Spain, with 85 percent of Spanish shoppers recalling they had noticed a store having a pleasant scent.

Shoppers in China and the US had the strongest reactions to in-store music, with 65 percent of people in both countries saying they have recently enjoyed listening to music in-store.

The report also found that Generation Z (those aged 18-24) and millennials (25-34) offer an enticing opportunity for retailers, with these generations being the most affected by sensory experiences across the board. 74 percent of those surveyed within this age bracket said they had responded positively when music they liked was playing in-store. Specifically, they remember music lifting their mood or staying longer in-store as a result of enjoying it.

Younger shoppers are also most likely to share their in-store experiences on social media – with 45 percent of those aged 25-34 and 41 percent aged 18-24 saying they’d previously shared their experience via this medium.

Other select UK-specific highlights from Mood’s new study include:

  • Beat the queue: 62 per cent of Brits surveyed said they had either avoided or left a store because of long queues – the third highest globally – suggesting more needs to be done to make the queueing experience more engaging or integrated in the shopping experience itself
  • In-store vs online: 79 percent said they are more likely to choose the store over buying online if there’s an enjoyable atmosphere
  • The power of social: Nearly a quarter (21 percent) of UK shoppers surveyed said they have shared an in-store experience on social media recently, in comparison to 56 percent of Chinese shoppers
  • In-store navigation: Store layout was rated as the most important feature for an enjoyable experience by 37% of UK shoppers, the highest result globally
  • Personal touch: UK shoppers who feel like the experience is personalised to them are 36 more likely to come back to the store, and 32 percent more likely to buy something
  • Digital solutions: Fast food restaurants are using digital signage most effectively in-store, with 44 percent of UK respondents noticing screens displaying interactive or useful content such as menus or promotions
  • Promotional visibility: Almost half of shoppers (49 percent) surveyed said they would most like to see promotions and in-store special offers on digital screens in clothing stores to improve their in-store experience

“Consistent with our 2017 State of Brick & Mortar study, we found that the physical store remains important to the majority of people around the world, with the experiential element playing a large role in consumers’ decision to choose brick & mortar over e-commerce,” said Scott Moore, global senior vice president of marketing and creative content for Mood Media.

“It also further highlights that brick & mortar businesses have to give consumers a reason to get off the sofa and into the store, and part of that reason lies in providing them an elevated sensorial experience. Brands should look to this report to discover how they can create the kinds of store environments that will convert shoppers into buyers and loyal repeat customers.”

“While the results suggest that UK shoppers may not be as influenced by sensory cues as their globalcounterparts, there are certainly areas of growth to explore, for example intuitive designs for store layouts and incorporating visual aids such as digital signage to better assist shoppers and make information such as stock availability or promotions more readily available” said Linda Ralph, vice president of international business development for Mood Media.

“Over the past year we have seen more and more UK retailers adopting immersive and multi-sensory in-store experiences and we see this momentum set to continue into 2019 as smaller retailers try their hand at experiential, spurred on by the success of the retail giants.”