Retail and consumers

Emotions drive sales: The power of behavioral economics

Have you ever treated yourself to a little “retail therapy?” Maybe you bought something you didn’t need, or couldn’t afford, just because you liked the way it made you feel. 

The fact of the matter is – shopping feels good. And in the world of retail it’s not rational thought, but emotions that drive sales. 

Retailers who become more emotionally driven can significantly increase profits and build a stronger connection between their customers and their brand.

The science behind emotional retailing

Behavioral economics is a field of study that combines psychology with economics to explain how people make buying decisions. While traditional economics assumes that people make decisions based on rational needs, behavioral economists recognize that consumers typically make decisions that are affected by social and emotional factors, not rational ones.

According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of people make purchasing decisions based on unconscious emotional connections. 

Studies have shown that the process of shopping releases dopamine – a chemical the brain produces that is associated with activities that bring pleasure. Making a purchase can release the same chemicals that come from eating, sleeping and any other activity that our brain recognizes as a reward.

So what does this mean for retailers?

Simply put, people buy more when they feel good. 

The benefits of emotional retailing

There are many benefits to becoming a more emotionally driven retailer. Increased emotional connections between customers and brands can lead to increased loyalty, repeat business and more purchases. Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, if a consumer has a positive experience while shopping, they will seek out that same feeling again. 

As Jaime Bettencourt, SVP of North America Sales at experiential media company Mood Media puts it: 

“How you make a customer feel from the second they step into your space matters – from the sound, look, scent and the overall sensory experience. It will guide the decision on whether the customer stays (increased dwell time), buys, and ultimately returns.”

Strategies for implementing emotional retailing

An often overlooked opportunity for emotional connections is through the physical shopping experience of your brick and mortar store. The atmosphere of your physical store can speak volumes about your brand as a whole, sometimes even before a customer steps foot through your doors. The cumulative mix of the sights, sounds and even the smells of your store are vitally important to establishing a strong emotional connection with your customers. 

The right music for your store

The music you choose to play in your store is a quick and impactful method to connect with shoppers. 83% of shoppers say they like hearing music while shopping in a physical store. By choosing the right playlist, you can reach an audience that resonates with your brand. 

Instead of playing music from a personal device, consider working with a professional music provider. This not only gives your business the opportunity to play music that is specifically designed with your brand in mind, while also handling the complicated licenses associated with playing music in a public space. 

Music also makes customers feel at ease by avoiding uncomfortable silence. 17% of shoppers feel more emotionally negative in a silent store. And 57% of consumers say they will disengage from shopping at a store that plays music too loudly or doesn’t fit the shopping environment. 

According to Danny Turner, Global SVP of Creative Programming at Mood Media, “Music literally establishes the tone of the experience from the moment your customer walks through the door. They will hear the music long before they get to sufficiently browse and form an opinion about your space. The response is immediate and impactful.” 

Digital signage for your visual landscape

Adding digital signage to your visual landscape can serve many purposes. Not only is it another avenue for promoting your brand story, but can also entertain, educate and inform your shopping audience. Humans are visual creatures by nature and it’s nearly impossible to avoid looking at bright, colorful animation on crisp displays.

26% of consumers say digital signage encourages them to buy something. And 22% of consumers say they would stay longer in a store with digital signage.

Digital signage can also positively impact customers by making the shopping journey easier with wayfinding content, easy to read digital menus boards and interactive screens. 

For better results, avoid using standard TVs. A professional digital signage company like Mood Media can provide you with expertly created visuals with no unwanted content and durable screens built for the long hours of commercial use.

The emotional power of scent

While sights and sounds are the most noticeable and exciting solutions to creating connections with your customers, the true queen of emotional connections is through our sense of smell. 

Human beings are 100 times more likely to recall a memory based on smell over something we’ve touched, seen or heard. Considering 75% of all emotions are generated by scent, it is incredibly important to be aware of the scent of your stores. 

Through the use of professional scent machines from companies like ScentAir, you can choose from thousands of scents to create a pleasant atmosphere that can calm and comfort shoppers, encouraging them to linger longer while shopping. 

Find success through emotional connections

A recent study by Mood Media revealed that 78% of consumers globally cite “an enjoyable store atmosphere” as a key factor in choosing brick-and-mortar over ecommerce. And a whopping 90% of shoppers say they’re more likely to revisit a business that leverages music, visuals and scent in their stores. The key to creating emotional connections with customers is by providing the right combination of sights, sounds and smells to put shoppers in the mood to buy. 

Creating an emotional connection with customers and designing a positive and engaging shopping experience through the use of experiential media allows retailers to tap into the power of human emotion and see greater business success.


Business Asia
the authorBusiness Asia

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