Online Exclusive: How to Incorporate Experiential Design into Retail Settings

Experiential Retail Strategies

With the popularity of online shopping, it’s important to make an impression when customers choose to visit your brick-and-mortar store. As the increasing prevalence of technology reshapes the retail landscape, stores should aim to bridge the gap between the physical and digital realms. Mood Media, an Austin, Texas-based global experiential media company, uses elements from music to scents to digital signage to help retailers stand out. Collaborating across all verticals and industries, the company works with 500,000 clients, from one-location stores to brands including Marriott and Mercedes-Benz. To learn more, we caught up with Jaime Bettencourt, senior vice president of North America account management for Mood Media, to chat about the future of retail. 

Right now, buyers can go online, go in-store, they have word of mouth; they’ve got all different ways to find out about products. But when people go into a store, they want to learn something new and have a hands-on experience. They want to touch it, they want to feel it, they want to feel engaged. What is that tangible opportunity they might have? And then it’s making it personal, relevant and meaningful to them. It’s about blending art and science and bringing those together from a human perspective.  

How is integrating technology into stores a delicate balance? 

Everyone’s talking about digitizing their in-store experience. But you want to do that in the right way. You don’t want technology for technology’s sake. You don’t want to put a bunch of screens in but not have anything to say or have it not make sense in the environment. So, it’s making sure we connect those dots. If you’re a one-location retailer, your strategy is going to be very different than say, an enterprise global brand. And then capturing those insights through data is another piece that I think is really important. 

How can experiential retail help motivate the consumer? 

Once you get them in store, it’s about how you motivate the customer to do something, activate them to buy and engage with your brand. We talk to our clients a ton about what story they want to tell. How do you want people to feel? What metrics are they trying to gain from an ROI perspective with their customer experience? We talk about those things to figure out what is the content they may be playing. What does it sound like? How do you want people to feel? Do you want them to feel energized, relaxed, connected? There are so many things that you can do with creative media, visually and in an audio sense.  

For those currently without in-store activations, how might you suggest formulating a strategy? 

What are you truly trying to accomplish in the store? What are your brand values? And how do you want to relay those to the customer? Is it promotional? Is it informational? Is it branding? Those are the things that I typically would start with if you’re just starting out. What are you trying to accomplish in the store? And then what is your content strategy? Our job is to come back to you and make a recommendation on what makes sense. And based on what your budget is, there might be a very large budget for a flagship and then you want to scale that into your full fleet, or it’s just one location.  

As Bettencourt mentions, experiential retail isn’t just about screens — although, when integrated well — they can be an effective tool. When devising an update to your store, consider all five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Are there ways you can reach customers in all those areas? Think about music or soundscapes, scent or even tactile displays and ways they can work together.