Neuromarketing, customer experience and the sensory: the future of retail according to Maristella Fe
Consumption is narration and music creates the soundtrack for the story that the client elaborates
Maristella Feletto, head of Talent Development at MCS Group, is an expert in learning experiences in the sectors of retail, mass distribution fashion and luxury.
Sound Identity: How do you see the future of retail?
Maristella Feletto: We have to be ready to tackle the huge change in the meaning of sales and the entire buying experience that we are currently facing. Nowadays the customer can easily make purchases with just one click from their living room, which means it is now essential to think about how the role of physical shops has to change in the future.
The point is to no longer think of the shop as a place to purchase but – and this is the real change – as an experience place.
And a sensorial experience above all, because let’s not forget that the human being approaches and interacts and describes the world through the five senses.
So the challenge for us is to become increasingly skilled and able to engage the client in the physical space through sensorial stimulation in order for them to have a pleasant time. And whilst we’re talking about retail and brands, a brand is never strong on it’s own, a brand is the feeling that it creates in the mind of the client! If it comes down to feeling versus discount, the feeling will win out every time because the sensorial and emotional experience of the client inside the shop is decisive.
Sound Identity: What is the relationshop between neuroscience and marketing?
Maristella Feletto: Neuromarketing studies have contributed to making the shop an experience, where the product/price/promotion logic no longer reigns supreme. Consequently,the interaction between the shop assistants and the client has changed. The human mnemonic ability engages with the sensorial sphere via a narrative memory and we tend to remember brief sensorial frames as images, perfumes or music. That is where storytelling becomes vital for selling, which is what we are working on by increasing level of sensorial language. Consumption is narration. First we buy the stories that the products are expressing and then we consume the objects. So we have to create a story in order to be convincing and outstanding on the market!
Sound Identity: What kind of role do emotions and feelings have? And how important is it?
Maristella Feletto: One of the credences that neuroscience has overturned viewed the purchase process as: deciding (rationally) you need something, acting and therefore going to buy the object that meets that demand. It means an emotional ‘feeling’ for that product. Neuroscience has shown that the process is actually the opposite. By feeling at an emotional level, you are already involved in the story that you imagine with that object. So I act by buying the product and I rationalise it by justifying the purchase.
That is the ‘feeling’ that drives the desire that leads to the purchase. From this we can deduce that the more we can create a pleasant and memorable experience for our clients, the more they will associate this pleasant experience with our brand, our products and our shop, which means they will come to the shop, keep coming back and recommend us to other clients.
Other studies have shown that 72% of purchase decisions occur in the sales point (studio Popai USA) and that in general people are willing to go over their initial budget by 22%. So it is quite clear that the sensations of the client in the sales point have a concrete impact on their purchases. Essentially, we are not talking about a stylistic or accessory exercise, but sales strategies that impact the KPI of the shop and the brand’s position on the market. Let’s not forget that perfect attention to detail –including sound – increases the percieved value of the product and the client’s willing to spend (Ferrari, Apple and Gucci are all good examples).
Sound Identity: How does sound become part of the buying process?
Maristella Feletto: First of all, sound design can offer added value in terms of creating a sensorially pleasurable location and therefore improving the consumer experience. Then I think that in order to understand the power of music when it comes to purchasing would mean remembering the real meaning of music and sound in our lives. During sales training, we emphasis what you say as much as how you say it. Another aspect we emphasise is the ‘voice’, which is our natural instrument and which has an incredible power, as all good storytellers will tell you. The voice, music and certain kinds of sound are anchored to a very profound area of our minds and memories, meaning they affect our emotions. In that sense, music is the movement of the clients towards the products. In other words, music creates the soundtrack for the story that the client elaborates in their mind. Sound becomes one of the most precious and powerful sales tools.
Sound Identity: How can sound design affect the staff working in the shop?
Maristella Feletto: We all have a biological rhythm that is based around the cyclic pattern of the day and this also reflects the types of sound that are more suitable for a particular type of day. I find it very interesting, not solely for customers, but for the sales team too. Their sensorial and emotional wellbeing influences tthe wellbeing and pleasure of the client. How could I ever ask an unsatisfied and unmotivated sales assistant to create a pleasurable, surprising and memorable relationship with the client using their voice, gestures and words?
Sound Identity: Any ideas for the future of sound design and sound branding?
Maristella Feletto: Music and hearing are still perhaps underrated today in comparison with the visual aspect. But I believe that it is simply a matter of development, which soon companies and industry players will have to understand in order to reap the advantages and benefits of branding their shops with music and sound among other things. When shops realise this, I believe we will take a great step forward in terms of the wellbeing: of the client and profits but also the organisational wellbeing of the people who work with commitment, patience, dedication and passion every single day.
Sound Identity: A track that gets you going?
Maristella Feletto: Well, I’ve got more than one but a short list would be:
Arcade Fire ‘Ready to start’
Queen ‘Don’t stop me now’
I’m also a huge fan of classical music and opera so ‘Nessun dorma‘, the famous tenor piece from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, perhaps performed by the wonderful Pavarotti.