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Setting The Mood With Sensory Tech

SMB Retail by Angela Diffly
NewLookJeansMMCContentA Make Or Break Moment

Have you ever walked into a store and noticed your mood elevated, or deflated, based on music, lighting or scent? This happens to me all the time, and I react to it. Sometimes positively, sometimes not. For example, when I walk into Kirkland’s, a lovely home goods store, I know I can’t stay long due to the omnipresent and overpowering aroma coming from the store’s scented sachets. This seems to be a common complaint, as one employee review from the job and recruiting site Glass Door notes, “The smell of the scented sachets has permeated the carpeted floor, carpeted walls and every fixture in the store… Some people while standing in line to check out start to tear up… Customers complain about it daily.”

There’s another shabby chic-themed beachy store in my neighborhood, and I can never stay there long because they have the radio on, but all I hear is static and faint music. Am I the only one who hears this? Needless to say, when I let myself think of it, I decide against stopping in that store, which is a shame because I do like the merchandise. It’s like the store is subliminally driving me to the enemy, aka ecommerce (you know the one). When sensory marketing is done poorly, it creates a disappointing experience at best, and can really impact the bottom line.

Doing Sensory Marketing Right

On the other end of the spectrum, some stores use sensory marketing very effectively. Surf lifestyle and equipment brand Billabong recently announced it will offer a full sensory experience in a number of its flagship stores with the help of Mood Media, a customer experience design company whose 80-year history lies in background music. Mood Media has already developed sound and scent for Billabong stores in France and Spain, and plans to refresh the company’s “board culture” surf theme every couple of months to maintain originality and ensure customers have unique experiences each time they visit.

We wanted to know more about Mood Media and how the company helps stores create positive, dynamic customer experience designs using sensory marketing. We reached out to Jaime Bettencourt, senior VP, premier sales and account management for the company. Our Q&A with Bettencourt follows.

SMB Retail: Tell us what technologies you use to create a mood.

Bettencourt: We strive to create a holistic brand experience by engaging consumers across the most important sensory touch points. We believe that every sensory touch point is an opportunity to communicate overarching brand values and differentiated experiences for customers.

From scent to sight, sound and social, we provide the full range of customer experience design solutions. We create custom audio programming delivered through a variety of streaming and playback devices. Our versatile digital signage hardware and software solutions allow clients to create their own private TV networks and engage customers with informative and entertaining content. We create mobile marketing solutions through patented audio beacon technology called Mood Presence. We help brands identify custom scents or select from one of 1,500 existing options to create unique olfactory experiences for their customer. We also provide interactive displays, projection mapping, on-hold messaging and so much more.

SMB Retail: Which brands are doing what? Can you provide some real-world examples?

Bettencourt: Mood has more than 500,000 active client locations around the world and across all market sectors. We work with small, local businesses as well as some of the most well-known brands including Macy’s, TJX, Luxottica, AT&T Mobility and Coca-Cola. As an example, for Sunglass Hut we create a custom audio identity by cultivating a personalized music playlist tied to the brand’s marketing campaigns and in-store activities. For Billabong, we’ve developed a custom fragrance that conveys the brand’s laid-back, casual surfing culture.

SMB Retail: How are you working with beacons?

Bettencourt: The in-store shopping experience is riddled with distractions—not the least being smartphones. Rather than compete with smartphones for the consumer’s attention, we’re leveraging these devices to deliver brand messaging and digital coupons. As an example, we’ve partnered with Shazam to create Shazam In-Store – a location-based mobile marketing solution built upon the popular Shazam music identification mobile app and our patented Presence technology. Presence is an inaudible digital watermark delivered through Mood’s audio systems. When a customer activates the Shazam app to identify a song or audio message, the app will recognize the watermark and deliver the business’ targeted content directly to the customer’s mobile device along with the requested song information. Presence is different than traditional beacon technology because it’s integrated into an audio system and doesn’t require separate hardware, Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity.

 SMB Retail: What digital signage solutions are most effective? 

Bettencourt: The most effective digital signage solutions are those where clients have a clear strategy and understanding of what they want to accomplish and convey to customers. Digital signage is an incredibly versatile platform – it may be used to engage, inform, inspire, promote – the opportunities are endless, so having clear objectives comes first. From there, the most effective solutions leverage great content, professionally designed and produced and carefully managed. Interactive visuals can be especially effective since this allows users to truly interact with the technology themselves. This helps create a well-rounded customer experience. We tell clients to be deliberate and thoughtful in their adoption of in-store technologies to ensure that both the content and delivery method aligns with the overarching brand story.

Quote Sensory

SMB Retail: Can you provide some innovative examples of digital signage?

Bettencourt: Mood had the opportunity to work closely with Starwood Hotels and resorts to launch Aloft, a hip new hotel brand. Mood designers developed custom visuals, coupled with music, to foster a trendy setting. A stunning LCD visual experience creates a modern approach to customer experience which encourages guest interaction – something that isn’t usually promoted in hotels.


SMB Retail: How can smaller retailers get in on the action? Are there good/better/best scenarios as far as cost and scale?

Bettencourt: The elements of customer experience design that small retailers can and should adopt depend on brand attributes and marketing strategy. For example, adopting digital signage for its own sake doesn’t work – it must be tied to a bigger strategy and part of a holistic experience. Ensuring that touch-points ladder up to a larger strategy and brand message is something that retailers of all sizes need to consider.

We offer solutions specifically designed for the unique needs and parameters of SMBs. One example is our Shazam In-Store, which is a turnkey tool that allows small and local businesses to quickly and easily adopt and activate mobile and interactive marketing campaigns.  It’s a full-service offering – Mood designs the interface that lives on the Shazam app. The signal, unlike a traditional beacon, is delivered through Mood’s existing sound systems.

Digital signage can be especially cost-effective for SMBs – it can offset the expense of static signage and is much more effective and flexible. It allows business owners to control their content, and it can be more affordable than typical broadcast or cable services. If a business needs sports or other live broadcast content, Mood offers hybrid solutions that let clients mix their own custom content with live programming.

SMB Retail: What kinds of retailers do you envision benefitting most from “mood” marketing?

Bettencourt: Any retailer that wants its customer to spend more time in-store and be more engaged with its products needs a clear customer experience strategy. Every retailer is faced with a growing challenge to build stronger connections and develop greater loyalty with customers. Retailers who have a strong sense of brand, that are authentic and passionate about creating a consistent and unified customer experience always benefit most from the types of solutions we provide.

The type of solution they utilize should also depend on the type of retailer. For example, a florist would not want to use scent marketing, as that would overpower the natural scent of flowers and overwhelm customers. However, we believe that carefully curated music programming is appropriate for nearly every scenario.

SMB Retail: Anything else you’d like to add?

Bettencourt: We tell all clients to be deliberate and thoughtful in their adoption of in-store technologies and solutions and to ensure that both the content and delivery method aligns with your overarching brand story. It’s not just about colors and visual branding, it’s about the content and messages that are delivered. Music is a great example here. Many popular songs have messages that may conflict with a brand’s values – the lyrics matter!

BettencourtBioPicture2014Jaime Bettencourt, Senior VP, Mood Media
Jaime is an accomplished and highly respected executive, recognized for designing world-class customer experiences for leading lifestyle brands. She has developed in-store marketing, media and technology solutions for Fortune 500 clients in big box and fashion retail, telecommunications and hospitality.

Jaime has spent the last 15 years in various leadership roles in marketing, branding, sales and account development. Throughout her career she has worked with global organizations to enhance their in-store experience through targeted brand initiatives and marketing strategies supported by customer insights and analytics. She has been a valued partner for clients such as AT&T Mobility, Coca-Cola, Macy’s, TJX, Luxottica and Darden Restaurants.