by Heatheron November 18,2011 in

Though our lives are filled with many categorizations of us and them, consumer and business, buyer and seller, when it comes down to it, all of us humans who fill these categories are really, basically the same. We all shop. We all benefit from each other’s support in one way or another, be it monetary or otherwise. We all want to live happy, healthy lives. And we all want to relax and be at ease. I think we all know how life and the things in it look a whole lot rosier when we’re relaxed. And actually, I like to think that when we are relaxed and at ease we experience our world as more true to what it is. Things are all around us, free and for sale, that benefit our lives and make our top priorities easier to well, prioritize. When we are relaxed we can see this value in what’s around us more clearly and we become more amenable to exchanging resources (time, mind space, money) for these things. That’s just what a group of marketing researchers at some top business schools affirmed recently in an article published in the Journal of Market Research. The article Relaxation Increases Monetary Valuations by Michel T. Pham, Iris W. Hung and Gerald J. Gorn documents the findings of research into how the use of varying degrees of relaxation techniques (relaxing stimuli, breathing, movement, etc.) and subsequent states of relaxation affected participants’ perceptions of product values. Not surprising, the researchers report a direct correlation between an individual’s state of relaxation and their perceived values of the products they were shown. The more relaxed the person, the more she expressed being willing to pay for something. You can read the summary and brief commentary of the published study at Marketing Power and the study in it’s entirety is available as this JMR article PDF document. From the perspective of helping us, your customers, see the full value in what is within your stores, let’s use the rest of this post for applicable how-to’s on how to help us relax while shopping with you! Creating a Relaxing, More Valuable Retail Store Environment A few ways you can provide the most relaxing environment possible in your stores (something undoubtedly beneficial to you and your sales associates as well!), organized by sense faculty: Sight Our first sensory contact with a retail space is usually what we see. The facade, entrance, immediate display areas or display windows, the view to the boundaries of the shop and its basic structural elements, the people inside, and the lighting, to name the most prominent.
  • Remind us of the sun by using natural or full-spectrum lighting
  • Allow our eyes to rest by using a simplified decor color palette (cool water-inspired hues and earthen wood-tones are proven to be the best)
  • Provide for an ease of orientation by keeping displays simple and clean (organizing with the monochromatic theme in mind can be effective)
  • Help us feel safe by allowing us to identify the boundaries of the store (for example, you can reduce tall shelving in the middle of stores that may create hidden areas especially worrisome to parents of walkers)
  • Be happy, look happy, show us your smiles
Sound Whether your store is off of a busy thoroughfare,  tucked into a bustling mall, or off the beaten path, you can help us shift from getting somewhere to having arrived with a change of the soundscape.
  • Play relaxing music, such as that found at a local book shop in the contemplative or stress management sections
  • If the sounds of flutes and water aren’t quite up your alley, using music that is familiar and doesn’t require our minds to grasp can be another option (70’s easy listening or 80’s feminine pop may be fun options to try)
  • Keep volume at an audible but minimal level (too low, and our ears will strain to hear it, too high and we’ll have trouble hearing and being heard at soft talking levels, i.e. let us hear it and still be able to hear the sleepy mumbles of the little one resting in our baby carriers)
Smell Ever hear the baking apple pie home selling tip? The idea is to bake something really yummy smelling just before a showing or open house to engage the sense of smell in a way that is welcoming and maybe even reminds us of our mom’s fresh apple pie!
  • Give us the snifferific gift of soft-scented flowers, potpourri or diffused essential oil to help us relax into the space (we like warm, spicy, woodsy scents and known calmatives such as lavender and chamomile would be a treat to us)
  • Allow us to experience smells that are light and non-invasive (none of us likes the heavily-sprayed air freshener experience)
  • Let us breath plenty of fresh air if possible
  • Keep our lungs chemical free with air purifiers and low-to-no VOC paint and carpeting
Touch Moms and kids love to touch things and who doesn’t feel instantly a little better after smoothing your hand across fuzzy chenille or warm silk? Likewise, feeling just the right temperature on our skin and letting our body relax against a welcoming surface both inspire relaxation.
  • Offer us temperatures moderate and inviting relative to the outside climates we’ve just exited (most of us generally think the 70 degrees Fahrenheit range is welcoming, though a little cooler in hot weather or a little warmer in cold could be just the ticket – but stay away from extremes even as the mercury climbs or plummets respectively, as too-cold air conditioning or boiling furnace levels will drive us out of your store)
  • Give us tactile access to your more touchy-feeling things, such as fuzzy rugs, huggable teddy bears and organic bamboo clothing right when we walk in (creating a display of a sampling of your most touchable items near the door can offer this sensory respite while safeguarding the bulk of your inventory from too much wear and tear)
  • Give us a place to rest by ourselves or with our little ones, be them sleeping, chatting, or nursing (cushioned chairs and benches are always appreciated, along with extra pillows for propping)
Taste Eating apple pie is about the only thing better then smelling it and a delighted tummy can also be the most relaxed one. Offering snacks to hungry moms and children can be a way to ease minds and bodies and help offer a more relaxing experience in the store. While special consideration may be needed to keep product damage to a minimum, and the dietary concerns of mothers with children should be taken into account to make sure your offerings are considerate, a little something sweet and wholesome is generally always appreciated, even if we don’t partake.
  • Offer us a cup of weather-appropriate herbal tea (a little pump thermos and some recycled paper cups near the entrance accompanied by a welcoming sign complete with ingredients along with your direct invitation is a relaxing offering)
  • Welcome us with a plate of something comforting, hygienic and considerate (individually wrapped treats that are free of known food allergens that some moms may be choosing to avoid can be a very welcome, appropriate offering and we’ll be less eager to get home to food while we’re in your store)
  • Always feed us at special events such as store openings or product launch parties (we sort of expect it anyway, and your generosity will inspire ours)
We’d love to hear your tried and true methods for creating a welcoming, relaxing retail space, and how the above works out for you! I invite you to leave a comment below with your thoughts and other resources you may find helpful.