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Increasing Your Sales by Appealing to the Five Senses

By Audel Ortega, Tru Vue Marketing Analyst

Though the retail industry continues to face pressure from e-commerce, several brands have done a great job of enhancing their businesses and brands through brick-and-mortar stores. Major brands like Starbuck’s®, Pottery Barn® and Anthropologie® have survived and even thrived by creating a unique experience.



These retailers have the strength of dedicated merchandising teams, but that doesn’t mean that small independent stores can’t borrow some of their best ideas. Their ideas and tactics all have one thing in common; they create a unique experience for the customer and appeal to one of their five senses. To intrigue customers and create a powerful experience like these successful brands it is important to appeal to a customer’s sense of taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing.



Here are some ways owners of independent custom frame shops can incorporate merchandising tactics used by some of the country’s top retailers.  To get started, begin with your target customer in mind to help you develop a framework to work from.  Develop a customer profile in writing and include which big brands also target this customer. If you need help identifying your customer, we recommend the post Who Your Customers Are…And Who They Could Be.







Sight plays a large role in the experience of a customer in a retail environment. One way to play up to this sense is by creating a structured store layout. Researching the big brands, you’ll notice that their merchandising tends to be well organized, with consideration given to spacing, color and movement throughout the store. Keeping displays uncluttered is a good rule of thumb for any custom frame shop.



It is also worth considering the way in which traffic is guided through your store. According to a study conducted by Andrea Groeppel-Klein Chair of Marketing and Director of the Institute for Consumer & Behavioural Research at Saarland University and Scientific Assistant Benedikt Bartmann, stores with a well-structured layout that guide customers in a clockwise direction will give them a more positive evaluation of the shop. It will also motivate them to spend more money than if they are guided in a counterclockwise direction. The study also concluded that customers would recall products located in peripheral aisles better than those in central aisles.



Another way to stimulate the sense of sight is by showing off your work. In a series of focus groups conducted for Tru Vue®, participants expressed the value they see in custom framing to enhance their pieces.  Customers are interested in what you have to offer that is special and out of the ordinary.  Make sure you are showcasing your most creative work on your display wall, in your window, and other places around your shop.







The sense of sound is a trickier sense to intrigue. Major brands activate the sense of sound in a variety of ways. Some brands use voice, a noise or even a jingle. For a smaller frame shop, a jingle may not make the most sense, but there are other ways to integrate sound. Playing music in your store is a realistic way to cater to this sense. According to branding expert Martin Lindstrom and author of Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind The Stuff We Buy, “brands with music that ‘fit’ their brand identity are 96 percent likelier to prompt memory recall.”



For example, playing classical music in a retail frame shop setting could help create an exclusive atmosphere and lend an air of prestige to the merchandise. Here are some statistics from Business Insider that prove to be interesting:

  • Classical music versus Top 40 music at a wine shop increases sales and leads customers to buy more expensive merchandise.
  • Low-tempo music causes shoppers to move slower, but it also causes them to buy more.







The sense of taste is often conveyed in the food industry however this doesn’t mean that there is no room for it in your shop. According to Lindstrom, nearly 18 percent of the Fortune 1,000 companies could incorporate taste into their brands but have yet to explore this option.



So, how does a frame shop satisfy the sense of taste? One way to play up to this sense is by offering finger food and drinks during store events like open houses, promotional sales, etc. Another way is to offer waiting customers a complimentary beverage. To seal the deal, if a customer makes a purchase offer them a complimentary glass of champagne to celebrate. This tactic helps make the customer more confident in their purchase and adds a nice touch. High-end retailers often use this tactic to appeal to customers’ sense of taste; it is a small part that plays a large role in the overall experience of the customer.







Smell is a strong sense that easily triggers emotional attachments. There are many opportunities with the sense of smell. Brands like Mitsubishi have integrated smell in innovative ways. “Mitsubishi’s ad agency placed a fragrance ad in two major newspapers that stimulated that leathery ‘new car’ smell,” Lindstrom says. “The result: the company’s Lancer Evo X sold out in two weeks, and the car company’s sales increased by 16 percent, even during a recession.” Think of scents that evoke certain emotions or memories and see how you can incorporate them into your store.



First, it is extremely important that you rid your shop of any foul or bad odors. Bad smells can disturb customers and send them away.  Smells can be incorporated in subtle ways, for example, you can have a vase with fresh flowers at your consultation table, adding a pleasant smell to an area where a customer will spend most of their time in your shop. “Test results have shown a 40 percent improvement in our mood when we’re exposed to a pleasant fragrance—particularly if the fragrance taps into a joyful memory,” Lindstrom says. During the holiday season, you can incorporate popular scents like cinnamon, cranberry, nutmeg, pine, frankincense & myrrh, and gingerbread with candles or fragrance oils to evoke customers’ happy holiday memories.







Lindstrom conducted a study on the cell phone industry, and he discovered that 35 percent of consumers reported that they care more about the way their phone feels than its actual design. That is about a third of consumers that would like to touch the product to know how it feels. This is a significant portion of consumers, so employing a sense of touch in your store is a must. Many brands incorporate a sense of touch, think of products you see at a store. Many of them include openings so that you can feel the texture of the product. This tactic is incorporated because consumers will be more likely to make a purchase if they can touch the product.



Touch may be the easiest sense to employ in your shop. All you have to do is let customers touch and interact with moulding, matboard samples, and your Tru Vue® glazing counter choices display. Letting your customers feel the materials makes the finished framed piece that more realistic. This not only helps you make the sale, but it also helps educate your customers.


This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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