Scents, music and sounds contribute to a better purchase experience

A combination of, and congruence between, scents, nice music and beautiful environments create pleasant experiences in the retail industry and lead to customers spending more time in the store. This is shown in a new dissertation at Linnaeus University.

Miralem Helmefalk carries out research in marketing and has specialised on sensory marketing. He has investigated how congruency between, for instance, scent, sight and hearing can affect feelings and purchasing behaviours within the retail industry.

Through a number of field experiments, he has studied how the different senses can be affected through a combination of different stimuli, for instance by combining coloured light with various scents.

"I've studied how background sounds, music, visual impressions and different scents can be combined in a way that feels compelling and leads to customers spending more time in the store and, ultimately, become more inclined to purchase something. There are, of course, ethical aspects to this. For instance, scents cannot be too weak. The scent should be weak, but still noticeable if you concentrate. The seller wants to create a pleasant experience of an environment but one must, of course, always morally and ethically stand behind one's products.

Multiple-sensory cues give the best effect
Miralem Helmefalk has looked into what combinations of stimuli are most efficient and he has found out that multi-sensory stimuli are by far the best, both concerning customers' attitudes towards the products and the time spent in the store, but also concerning purchase behaviour. This type of multi-sensory experiments within sensory marketing is ground-breaking. Earlier studies have mainly focused on individual senses, for instance how the lighting in a store can affect customer experience.

"The interest in sensory marketing has increased in the last few years, in particular concerning how to work with scents in stores. There is currently a change-over taking place within trade, as a result of the increasing online trade. The physical stores must adapt and offer something more than just sales. They must create environments and offer experiences, an additional value that customers cannot get via an online shop.

Title of the dissertation: Multi-sensory cues in interplay and congruency in a retail store context: Consumer emotions and purchase behaviours