While many people believe that shoppers are overwhelmingly moving to online, 79% of Australians are likely to choose a store over online if there is an enjoyable atmosphere (music, visuals, scent). So, in order to succeed, shops need to ensure that they are creating an experience in-store and an enjoyable atmosphere – something online cannot offer.

The latest consumer research study by Mood Media, ‘Elevating the Customer Experience: The Impact of Sensory Marketing’, was conducted by Walnut Unlimited, a global market research agency specialising in neuroscience and behavioural psychology and economi­cs. More than 10,000 consumers were surveyed across 10 countries worldwide including Australia, China, United Kingdom, the United States, France, Benelux, Germany and Spain.

The study found that the physical store remains important to most people around the world, with the experiential element playing a large role in consumers’ decision to choose brick & mortar over e-commerce.

It further highlights that brick and mortar businesses must give consumers a reason to get off the sofa and into the store, and part of that reason lies in providing them with 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.

Mood Media’s latest study shows conclusively that shoppers want an experience and will choose bricks-and-mortar over online if they get it.

Atmosphere is key

Atmosphere – music, visuals, scent – was repeatedly highlighted by respondents as what will encourage repeat customers and longer shopping times. If there is an enjoyable atmosphere 86% of Australians are likely to re-visit a store, and 70% of Australians are likely to stay longer in store.

And with all businesses vying for word of mouth referrals, shops should take note that 76% of Australians are likely to recommend a store to friends and family if there is an enjoyable atmosphere.

“Our research has shown definitively that there is still a demand for bricks and mortar shops. Consumers want to enjoy the experience of shopping and this is something that online stores simply cannot offer. Attracting shoppers with an enticing atmosphere will encourage shoppers to linger longer and hopefully increase purchasing intent.” says Steve Hughes, Managing Director of Mood Media Australia.

The ability to try different products or services is cited globally as the biggest driver in making consumers more likely to want to buy in brick and mortar.

Music to their ears

Music has often been recognised as a key ingredient in the consumer experience, and rightly so. It is the number one factor to improve a shopper’s mood in-store and has an overall positive impact on 85% of shoppers globally. However, the quality of music played really matters. More than half (57%) of global shoppers will disengage if brands make poor music choices.

62% of Australians have enjoyed listening to music in-store recently and 45% have stayed in the store longer than they would have done because they’ve enjoyed the music.

Clothing stores were clearly the leading segment when it came to shoppers enjoying music while in-store with nearly 80% of respondents saying they had enjoyed music while shopping in clothes stores.

“Music is such an important component in the shopping experience. It can lift the mood, create a calming atmosphere that drives shoppers to take their time, and even give the staff an all-important pep-up in the afternoon. A carefully curated playlist can increase the daily takings, time in-store and repeat store visits” continued Steve.

Screen time

Screens have become relatively commonplace within shopping centres, but not all individual stores utilise them. Over half of those surveyed in Australia said they had been attracted into a shop or stayed longer because of engaging content on the window or inside screens. Only behind China in this response, it suggests that Australian retailers should not only consider window content but also how screens can maximise the shopping experience in-store.

In quick-service restaurants, the use of digital menu boards is resonating with people, with over half of those surveyed giving attention to digital screens with interactive and useful content.

“Consumers aren’t just buying a product when in-store; they’re buying an experience and they are demanding it with their feet. For many, shopping is a form of entertainment and bricks and mortar stores have a real advantage. Done right, shops can see new customers, higher numbers of repeat visits, longer in-store dwell times and more recommendations,” concludes Steve.

The smell of success

The store atmosphere is not just about the eyes and ears. Engaging all the senses is another way that stores are creating an experience for shoppers, and Australians are paying attention, with 63% noticing that some stores have a pleasant and inviting smell. With competition higher than ever between stores, using additional atmospheric techniques such as scent could mean the difference between a customer coming into the store or walking past.

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