Sensation really does sell


banana-detailPoint of sale displays rely on visual impact, but what about the other four senses?

Clever sensory instore marketing can engage customers in unexpected ways and encourage a big uplift in sales.

Here’s a few examples of retailers using senses outside the box.

Your inner voice is bananas

Customers at New Zealand’s New World supermarkets were played a recorded “inner voice” prompting them to try free trade bananas.

The result? A boost in banana sales of 130 per cent.

A giant yellow sticker exclaiming “listen to your conscience” was positioned on the floor in front of the All Good Bananas displays.

When a customer stood on the spot, a directional speaker above them played a 40 second message.

This message couldn’t be heard by anyone else, and playfully claimed to be the shopper’s inner voice prompting them to buy ethical bananas.

The campaign lasted for three weeks in 2010.

A potato scented taxi

McCain created the world’s first potato scented taxi, freezer aisle, and bus stop in late 2013 to launch its new line of ready baked frozen jacket potatoes.

McCain worked with a sensory expert to recreate the mouth watering scent of a new product, which can be cooked in just five minutes.

The aptly named Jacket Taxis toured six UK cities, including London and Manchester.


A giant steaming model jacket potato was attached to the roof of the taxis, which emitted the aroma into the street.

A microwave was installed on board so that the taxis could be used for product sampling.

In supermarkets, branded barkers were attached to glass refrigerator doors. Customers could push a button to release a waft of the jacket potato aroma.

The display uses a sampling device called Poparoma, which releases a scent every time the button is pressed.

The barkers were installed in 300 Tesco and more than 400 Asda stores across the UK.

In 2013, McCain launched branded bus shelters fitted with a large fibreglass potato warm to touch.

Passersby could press a button to release the aroma and receive a money off voucher.

Jaffa flavoured wallpaper

Chocolate biscuit brand, McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes, wallpapered the inside of a lift with flavoured ‘lickable’ stickers to entice people into buying a pack.

It took a team of food technicians and artists four weeks to complete the Lickable Lift, which contained 1325 lickable Jaffa Cakes.

A lift attendant was on hand to replace any of the stickers that were tasted.

The campaign ran for two days in April 2012 in communications company Engine’s Great Portland Street office.

The idea was inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


Subliminal spending messages

Music played at luxury clothing retailer Browns Focus’ London store contained subliminal messages like “you are feeling very sexy” and “don’t worry about the money” to encourage spending.

The phrase “don’t take it or you’ll get caught” was broadcast to discourage potential shoplifters.

Based on research that the smell of vanilla can double women’s clothing sales, a vanilla scent (contained in cleaning products) was also released as customers walked across the floor.

According to consumer psychologist, Bruce Sanders, vanilla boosts sales because it’s a scent found in breast milk and women associate it with confidence.

The Hypnotic Shop was a temporary experimental redesign in 2011 of the store designed to boost dwell time and sales.


Chocolate boosts lingerie sales

Dutch lingerie retailer, Hunkemöller, found pumping the smell of chocolate through its stores increased average basket size by 20 per cent.

In 2012, the retailer also tested the effect on sales if customers were fed chocolate.

Hunkemöller worked with the behavioural agency, BrainJuicer Labs, on these interventions.

“Psychology tells us that if you give something to someone, they’re likely to give you something back,” says BrainJuicer Labs’ MD, Orlando Wood.

“If you feel in a good mood, you’re going to be less cautious about what you’re buying.”

Ashwien Bisnajak, market intelligence manager at Hunkemöller, says marketers or people in retail “intuitively” know how to make people feel at ease so they spend more.

“Music is a very old trick. Scent is the new one.

“It was always considered as nice to have but, with these results, we can see that not only is it adding to the experience, it’s increasing sales.”

In another test, customers were handed individually wrapped chocolates from a glass bowl as they walked into the store.

The average spend went up six per cent.

This story was originally published in POPAI UK and Ireland’s Global Retail Trends Report.


1 comment

  1. Kristian posted on April 2, 2014

    Great article. I just did a shopping experience review of The Body Shop > which as you can imagine, has some 'insane' sensory smells going on within it. We don't focus enough on the core senses to enhance shopping experiences and engagement. Kristian

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