Some companies are already aware of the potential of this approach, but it is not being put into practice by the industry as a whole yet. However, experts point out that, as senses are tied to our memories, it is more likely for a customer to remember a store if they have a positive sensory experience in it. In fact, retailers are starting to realize that by stimulating the senses in the right way, they can even influence emotions and moods, improving the chances of creating a lasting impression on consumers. Therefore, it might really be worthwhile for the toy sector to embrace a more multi-sensory design and marketing approach in general.
Offering the right sensory experience for your customer
There are different factors to consider when creating the right sensory ambience in your store. One of the most important elements to have in mind is, of course, your customers. It is key to understand how they behave, and what they would like to experience when they are in your store. For instance, studies show that if a customer likes the music they hear in a store, there is a higher chance that they will end up buying something. So, have you ever taken into consideration what style of music your target audience likes? Well, this question might be more important than you thought.
A challenge that we have to face is that we need to appeal to the sensory experience of not only parents, but their children as well. This can be complex, but it is not impossible. One major thing to keep in mind about children is that most of them do not enjoy the shopping experience, as stores are usually places full of exciting things that they are not allowed to touch. A store that uses the multi-sensory approach well will surprise and captivate children visually, but also allow them to keep their other senses free to be active and engaged. A wonderful place where children are actually allowed to just be kids, to move around, touch everything they want to, sense smells, sounds, and in general, actually play! I always think about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when imagining this kind of place. And there are certainly some toy stores that have accomplished becoming something magical like that. One of the best examples is the JouJou Toy Store at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, US: it is an extraordinary place where children are delighted by all of its amazing features and its beautifully designed interactive experience.
The work of Maria Yasko inspires design for the senses. Her interior design project Moomin Valley, which is an idea for a family entertainment center, is a perfect example of how to create impactful sensory spaces.
Creating the appropriate sensory experience based on your brand
Your brand identity is another relevant factor to consider when designing the best multi-sensory experience. It is essential to determine how to stimulate your customer’s senses in a way that is aligned with your mission as a brand and how you want to be perceived by your customers. The stimuli have to be chosen carefully, through a process of understanding and valuing how a combination of sights, smells, sounds, and haptic experiences can help communicate and represent the characteristics of your brand.
In this sense, the toy distributor Dideco presented their concept store in Valencia, Spain: a place inspired by nature, designed to engage all the senses. A store that follows the main principles of the company: discover, feel, and learn.
Using the multi-sensory approach in a broad way
Be aware of the fact that creating a multi-sensory experience in your store can be a very complex and extensive matter. For instance, when talking about sound, there is much more to consider than just the music you play, it is also about the way salespeople talk to consumers (e.g. soft, calm). So, try to not get in over your head.
Also, it is interesting to consider that these strategies can be applied to the store on a daily basis, or they can be used for specific moments. For instance, one of the best initiatives I have come across in this sense is the Quiet Hour by UK toy retailer The Entertainer. In their establishments, during particular times in the year, for instance during Christmas shopping, they provide an hour dedicated to a calmer shopping environment (mainly by lowering their music and dimming lights), which has invited children with autism to visit their stores. But, beyond reaching children with sensory difficulties, offering this kind of shopping environment is actually appealing for many people. All children and parents can potentially benefit and enjoy this new approach of purchasing toys, as the less intense ambience can help all children be more calm.
The impact of multi-sensory retail experience on brand loyalty
Toy distributors have a fairly new and interesting way of improving the customer experience for both parents and their children in the store. That is, by considering how they experience everything through all of their different senses. Enhancing their sensory experience in the right ways will have an important impact on brand loyalty and in-store sales.