With more shoppers moving online to get their shopping fix, the retail climate in Singapore has been challenging. We all know the story of malls becoming ghost towns on certain days of the week. Many a time, consumers who are browsing in a physical store, rather complete the transaction online instead.
When asked about his views on the scene, Terry Jacobson, founder of scent consultancy All Sense said that the physical brick and mortar space should become less about the transaction and more about the experience. This was during a recent conversation with Marketing, where Jacobson shared his experience with creating custom scents for brands such as Universal Studio Singapore's Halloween Horror Night event, as well as ION Orchard.
“Some of these retailers are still trying to hang on to that old mentality where every single person that walks in must be a sale, and they must be moved through the points from A to Z from discovery to purchase,” he added. Rather, mall operators and shop owners need to think of their space as a place where people can connect with the brand.
He added that ultimately, these spaces should be about creating emotive touch points and senses of surprise, discovery and entertainment that go way beyond purely providing a product.
“Consumers are only human, they need and want to socialise. They want to go into spaces to either physically interact with people, be it directly or indirectly even if it is just walking around,” he explained. As a result, consumers will yearn for real tangible experiences and authentic experiences more.
One way to create a distinct atmosphere for your brand is through a sense of smell.
The sense of smell, Jacobson added, is something which is not only personal, but also a powerful driver of physical space. This is because fragrance is able to create some sort of emotion; scent is able to create experiences which are personalised.
“I've had countless experiences where I would walk into say a jewellery store and it looks wonderful, everything sparkles, but suddenly I'm hit by the smell of products which are used to clean glass. So instead of having this wonderful experience I smell this strong detergent cleaner,” he added.
From a brand perspective, fragrance is a driver of experience, because it is able to build brand association as well as a sense of familiarity.
For example, hotels such as Starwood were one of the first hotel groups to design a signature fragrance to be deployed throughout their properties. Jacobson explained that this creates a sense of arrival that is so powerful because it has a sense of familiarity and comfort, which is important for a hotel.
I'm not saying a logo can't generate the same sense of familiarity, but on that emotive level it is nothing like a sense of smell to enhance that experience.
Drawing parallels to how music is now commonly used in creating brand experiences today, Jacobson explained that people used to question the use of music in an environment which does not sell it. However, music too is now a key driver of experience for marketers because it helps create ambience.
“We are on that same trajectory and fragrance is very much a driver of ambience, a driver of need and creation of context,” Jacobson said. While music can enhance the environment to encourage people to shop, when put together with fragrance, the effect can be exponential on the customer experience.
“Fragrance has been shown to increase dwell time, people spend more time inside a space, they browse more products and also buy more,” Jacobson said.
How do you decide on a smell?
For marketers looking to pay more attention to fragrances in marketing their retail space or setting up their event activation, the first thing they need to pay attention to are existing aromas in the space. The next thing they need to think about is how those odours or aromas impact visitors.
“When we are talking to brands, a deciding point comes when the client really understands their brand. This is down to the demographic, the current clientele and future clientele. All this needs to be distilled to what the emotion is for brand,” he explained.
Hence, an important question to always ask is “What do you want your customers to feel?” because it boils down to the emotional resonance of the brand. When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of scent marketing, marketers should apply the same measurement standards they use to measure the effectiveness of an experience. This is what Jacobson terms the “return on experience”.
However, he added that that the fragrance should be treated like how music and decorations are treated when it comes to experience – something which is treated as part of the total experience.
“It is the same thing about the pictures on the walls and the paintings on the wall as customers walk in, brands don't attribute an ROI to that – it’s just something that is part of the complete experience,” Jacobson said. When it comes to changing up a scent for a brand, keeping the fragrance standardised might be a good move for brands to undertake. This is especially when it comes from the perspective of garnering comfort and familiarity in consumers.
“From a branding perspective - of course we don't design a logo and then change the colour or the font every other month,” Jacobson said. This should also be remembered when it comes to creating your brand's smell.