Holiday shoppers in London

The key to a successful holiday season may be carefully crafted in-store experiences that engage all of a customer’s senses.

Danny Turner, global senior vice president of creative programming at in-store media solutions provider, Mood Media, touted music as one feature that plays a critical role in in-store experiences — and he noted this is especially true during the holidays.

“Crafting the proper music experience in retail has become one of the critical cornerstones in building a positive brand experience,” he said. “For many brands, the holidays not only represent the single most important retail season, it also represents an opportunity to forge new brand connections, or to reinforce legacy brand affinity.”

But Turner added that what’s most important is that brands remain true to their own DNA and not simply depend upon the generic standbys that so often waft through stores.

“We have found that one of the most important and often the most overlooked aspects of developing a holiday music strategy is brand consistency. Brand timbre, or your brand voice, is a vital component of who you are,” he affirmed. “Seasonality should not dictate a diversion from your core brand persona.”

The right music positions the customer in a better mind frame to interact with the brand, he explained. “Holiday music is even more evocative, personal and intimate, and that’s the very reason why you must approach it with purpose and intent, not as a reactionary afterthought,” he added. “Holiday music executed without a strategy can have as much negative impact on a brand as one can imagine.”

Music enables an opportunity for brands to connect with customers at a more intimate and personal level, he stressed, and brands who leverage this are on the path to an enviable customer experience. “Carefully curated music selections that speak to the brand’s attributes, demographics and aspirational targets go far in creating a positive brand interaction and affinity for customers,” he said.

And Jaime Bettencourt, Mood Media’s senior vice president of business development and account management, pointed out that a hefty dose of technology should also be in the mix.

“Consumers are choosing to associate with brands that build the strongest personal and emotional connections, and to achieve that, it is imperative that retailers consider and consciously execute across all customer touchpoints,” she explained.

Fittingly brands are using technology and visuals in new ways in order to bring their stories to life. “This is particularly valuable during the holidays when retailers may have multiple special offers and last-minute deals, often needing to react to current inventory levels or emerging seasonal trends on a dime,” she reflected.

Bettencourt urged retailers to enhance in-store mobile integration. This might be realized in the form of special in-store holiday promotions while as well as giving consumers the opportunity to combine the value of online comparison-shopping with the gratification of the physical experience.

She pointed to Mood Media’s exclusive Shazam In-Store mobile marketing solution, which provides custom holiday offers and reveals exclusive content — along with relevant music results — directly to a customer’s smartphone whenever the customer “Shazams” a song in the store.

“Increasingly, retailers are going digital in-store, taking the best of what was previously considered online technology and moving it into the physical space,” she expressed.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The smell of a store is also of pivotal importance, and the often-nostalgic holiday season tends to conjure reminders of just that. Bettencourt confirmed that scent — notably during the holidays — is absolutely key.

“Scent is a powerful way to create a more memorable experience and retail stores have endless options when it comes to specific scents they can utilize,” she confirmed. “​Scent along with the other key sensory cues can help create the ‘feeling’ of the holidays and deliver that mood and experience to shoppers effectively and early in the season.”

Because of the ever-growing pressure to boost the customer experience, Bettencourt forecasted this season the industry will see more retailers leverage seasonal scent opportunities in their holiday line-ups. Tried-and-true scents will continue to be a hit, she predicted, but twists on classics will be especially trending this year.

Bettencourt expressed that it is crucial to approach scent opportunities strategically. “Scent delivery in retail has key differences from scenting in a personal home. ​For example, burning candles or using reed diffusers in a retail setting can create a multitude of challenges as well as risk,” she said.

She noted that Mood Media’s scent solutions help retailers create high-quality olfactory experiences in a way that are particularly suited to business-specific settings. Scent-wise, Bettencourt added that retailers should be cautious not to go overboard. “Subtle intensity is usually the way to go,” she confided.

Bettencourt summed up that scent can “absolutely” put consumers in the mood to shop. “Just like crafting the other sensory elements to be congruent and pleasant, if a retail space smells pleasant and thematically congruent then we are more comfortable in the space, which allows the consumer to engage in the experience more deeply,” she said. “That translates to a better experience for the consumer — and more business for the retailer.”

For More WWD Business News, See:

New Tool Aims to Boost Retailers’ Sales This Holiday Season

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Report: Physical Retail Far From Obsolete

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