WWD_Illustration_Senses_JewelynButron

Thanks to the emergence of the experience economy and growth of online shopping, consumers today need bigger and better reasons to visit brick-and-mortar stores — which is compelling retailers to sell more than product alone.

In response, Mood Media, a customer experiences company, connects retailers and brands to consumers through curated in-store sensory experiences. By way of sound, sight, scent, social media and (technology) systems, Mood Media empowers brands to build meaningful experiences that entice shoppers into bricks-and-mortar spaces and propel the communication continuum via omnichannel solutions.

The firm is based in Austin, Tex., and connects to over 150 million people daily through its consumer experiences installed in various businesses across the globe. Mood Media capitalizes on the “experience economy” model, which may be the way of the future for bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Jaime Bettencourt, the senior vice president of business development for Mood Media, told WWD, “Depending on the person or the situation, the topic of ‘experience economy’ is described in a variety of ways — framed as focusing on in-store experiences, engaging experiences, entertainment experiences, shared experiences, compelling experiences, emotional experiences, human experiences, personalized experiences, etc. But whatever the adjective placed in front of it, the core need that we’re all trying to solve is the customer experience.”

As an 80-year-old brand that boasts over 2,000 employees, Mood Media prides itself on possessing a chameleon-like ability to evolve within various industry landscapes. With roots as a music and sound system company, the firm said it is able to harness intuition and elasticity with brands across a variety of sectors. Mood Media serves businesses in the retail, hospitality, financial, health care, restaurant, corporate and automotive industries. Its retail clients include Gucci, J. Crew, The North Face, Karl Lagerfeld, Nike and Macy’s, among many others. “We’re all about helping our clients create emotional connections between their brand and their customer,” Bettencourt said. “Emotional connections matter,” she noted.

Mood Media aims to attract customers through tailored sensory perspectives by uniting its “Five S’s”: sound, or music and voice messaging; sight, which focuses on brand visuals; scent, or in-store fragrance; social, by connecting with consumers through mobile and other platforms, and systems, which incorporate the technology to power each experience.

By working with a company’s marketing and brand team to determine and understand larger concepts like creative strategy, brand pillars and demographics, Mood Media also takes the finer details into consideration, such as color palettes, flooring, lighting, vibe and even merchandising strategies. Once the data is collected, it is translated into an audio profile and identity, which summarizes all of the brand concepts.

At the core of Mood Media’s strategy, though, is music. The brand analyzes lyrics, innuendos, tempo, content, and additional “qualifiers” from a variety of artists’ work to determine the most optimal, hand-curated, audio experiences for brands. Once a brand experience is fully formed and launched, Mood Media will continually refresh strategies for its clients by rejuvenating audio and video concepts as the brand evolves. “We take a qualitative approach to helping our brands elevate and optimize their brand story,” Bettencourt noted.

“Today’s consumers expect in-store experiences to offer the ease and personalization of online tools along with the human interaction of in-store personnel,” Bettencourt explained. “Successful bricks-and-mortar retailers will be sure to have a friendly and well-trained staff in addition to leveraging technology such as click-and-collect tools, virtual shopping carts, [which is] a concept Amazon Go used to anchor its convenience store reboot, and mobile/tablet payment processing, [a concept] Apple has [had] in its stores for years.”

Yeti, a premium cooler and drinkware brand, sought the expertise of Mood Media to enhance its flagship store in Austin. Signaling outdoor enthusiasts, ranchers, hunters, anglers and pit masters, the one-of-a-kind retail space invokes the sound and vision of the great outdoors. Tony Kaplan, the Yeti director of consumer experience, said, “Yeti’s flagship is not a typical retail store. It is meant to inspire people to go out and enjoy the wild through the experiential installations throughout the space.” He added, “Mood Media helped us design an authentic experience that allows our customers to interact with the Yeti brand in a whole new way.”

YETI Flagship

The Yeti Flagship in Austin, Tex. Photo courtesy of Mood Media. 

A few of the highly personalized techniques for Yeti include Mood Media’s ScentAir System, which circulates the scent of a smoky campfire throughout the store. Wall screens display images of Yeti brand ambassadors across five-panel portrait screens and digital displays to illustrate the durability of Yeti products in extreme situations (think of bear attacks or explosions). Its “content zone” allows consumers to view films that tell the personal stories of Yeti adventurers, from back-country skiing to surfing. The Yeti bar is complete with DirectTV, which lures shoppers to stay for a while to watch a game and kick back with a beer.

“When you get it right like that, it makes such an impact. When someone goes in the store, they’re going to be talking about it and they’re going to have even more love for that brand with that emotional connection to the brand,” Bettencourt told WWD.

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