A major survey of 10,000 shoppers around the world appears to have come up with a possible answer to breathing life into old-fashioned bricks and mortar retail – the “multisensory” in-store experience.

The study by Mood Media looked specifically at shoppers’ habits and how these differ in different parts of the world.

Researchers found certain key elements were common to consumers everywhere:

  • 90% of shoppers around the world say they are more likely to revisit stores that leverage music, visuals and scent together
  • 78% of consumers cite “an enjoyable in-store atmosphere” as a key factor in choosing in-store over e-commerce
Put all this together and you have the ‘multisensory retail’ experience.

The study, “Elevating the Customer Experience: The Impact of Sensory Marketing,” examined the experiences of consumers in ten countries – including Australia, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), China, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the US. It looked at customer behaviour across six different sectors – banks, beauty, fashion, grocery, pharmacy and quick service restaurants (QSR).

Sound emerged as the number one factor influencing shoppers’ in-store experience, having a positive effect on 85% of global shoppers. But what you play is vitally important, with 57% of shoppers saying they are put off if stores make poor music choices.

A combination of music (the “right” kind), visual elements and scent increases the time shoppers tend to stay in a store, with 75% saying they’ve stayed longer when all these things work pleasantly in concert. And 90% of consumers say they have decided to return to a store because they have enjoyed these elements.

Engaging video content proved less popular but was still cited by 58% of shoppers as having a positive impact on their shopping experience.

But what about the most cited factor that brings about an actual purchase? One of the obvious ways in-store scores over online is the ability of customers to touch, feel and try products or services. Not surprisingly, then these were mentioned by shoppers as the single biggest driver that made them more likely to buy in store (56%).

And more than a third of shoppers (38%) said that feeling as though their shopping experience was “personalised to me” made them more likely to buy. This was the second most important influence over a decision to purchase.

Overall, Generation Z (those aged 18-24) and millennials (25-34) were most affected by in-store sensory experiences, particularly music. Three quarters said they had responded positively when music they liked was playing, and, specifically, it had caused them to stay longer in-store. Unsurprisingly, they were also more likely to share their experiences on social media.

Sourced from Mood Media; additional content by WARC staff