By Leah Swain, Contributor (Email me here)
Please note, this is post 1 of 6 on using the senses to market more effectively to customers in the retail environment.
It’s been a while since I filled you in on Jonas. Let me tell you a story. Jonas sold leather merchandise in a few of his store departments. Everyone who came in the door would comment, “I just LOVE the smell of leather! It just smells so good!” That is good merchandising, right?! Customers were experiencing leather on 3 levels; touch, sight, and smell. The problem was Jonas was not satisfied with the casual scent of leather. He knew olfactory functions affect the same parts in the brain linked to mood and memory, the amygdala and the hippocampus. He wanted to amp it up! He decided to add more fuel to the nose so to say, so he purchased some Leather Scented aromatherapy oil. What a wonderful idea!
Now, we can all admit that there have been times in our lives when we have a brilliant marketing idea but sometimes, we fall short in the execution of the plan. For Jonas the issue was that he was incredibly busy at the store the day of plan implementation and invariably there was a bit of miscommunication.
Jonas gave the bottle of oil to the HVAC man (lets call him Kevin) asking him to use it on the filters when he changed them. Kevin man climbed the ladder to roof and dutifully changed the filters using the oil as requested. He descended the ladder, entered the store front, and turned on the heating unit to ensure it was working properly. Jonas came out with payment around that time and smelled the beautiful aroma emitting through the heating vents. As they discussed business for a bit it became clear that the scent was a bit overwhelming.
Jonas says to Kevin, “Wow, Kevin, next time use a couple less drips. Just keep the bottle with you in case I am not here when you come next month and when you run out please let me know. I will be sure to have another on hand.”
To which Kevin replies astonished; “Jonas! I assumed you wanted me to use all of it! I have nothing left in the bottle at all. I thought it was a lot myself, but I used the bottle just as you asked me to do!”
I wish I had been there to see the looks on their faces when it was realized. I am not sure whose face would have been more entertaining. Jonas, Kevin, or the poor employees who had to go home every night for the next month REEKING of leather scents.
This true story serves as a cautionary tale. First, make sure you communicate your plan clearly and directly to the person executing it. A simple step being overlooked or misunderstood can have disastrous results. Second, ensure that what is good for one is in fact good for all. The customers coming into Jonas’s store loved the aromatherapy because they were not in the store long enough for the smell to overwhelm them. The employees however, were getting headaches and felt quite sick. They became less productive and at times snippy with customers. Thankfully after the first couple weeks the oil began to be less, and less effective. Air filters were replaced the following month with only subtle scent added.