No imagination, no party.

You walk into the supermarket one evening after a hard day at work. You are frankly exhausted. You have just been to pick up your two kids from school – gorgeous, the pair of them, but they’ve had an argument and now won’t stop crying. But where is the children’s food section? Oh, they’ve moved it! You ask a shelf stacker who, barely looking at you, disinterestedly points to the new location of the kids’ food section. You eventually find what you are looking for but, when you get to the checkout, you are faced with a queue ten people long. There are no two ways about it, today is not your day. You can’t take any more, so you leave the trolley where it is, grab the kids and walk out. On your way to the car, you take out your smartphone, order food to be delivered home and swear that you will never go back to that supermarket again.

main-purchasing-blocks-lm

Let’s repeat the scene

I walk into the supermarket one evening after a hard day at work. I am frankly exhausted. I have just been to pick up your two kids from school – gorgeous, the pair of them, but they’ve had an argument and now won’t stop crying. At the entrance, I see a monitored play area for kids and they ask if they can stay there while I shop. They are both smiling again. I head over to the kids’ food section where I find a notice telling me where it has been relocated. A shelf stacker notices that I hesitate and offers to accompany me with a smile. The music is not abrasive and there is a nice atmosphere. My wife is coming back from a trip tonight so I decide to surprise her with one of those cheese selections she likes so much. Next to the cheese, I see a bottle of wine that would go with it perfectly. She’s worth it! She’ll love the surprise. I make my way over to the checkout where there is no queue and I scan the items myself and then pay. Right, now to pick the kids up. Look how lovely they are! I head home in no time at all to get there before my wife arrives.

The shopping experience

The situations described above are the same but with remarkably different outcomes.

This issue is hugely important for businesses because the same soft drink tastes different depending on where you drink it (try it if you don’t believe me). Therefore, a customer’s predisposition, price sensitively and actual shopping behaviour can end up varying greatly depending on how they feel as they shop.

We speak about the “shopping experience”, a term used casually with as many different definitions as there are articles written on the topic.

There was a long-established theory about how consumers decide what to buy, for instance as proposed by Court et al.(2009), who state that customers consider a range of goods/brands to buy, evaluate each of them based on their characteristics and choose one. After using it, they develop expectations for the next shopping process. However, we now know that the vast majority of decisions, including shopping choices, are made unconsciously. In other words, consumers do not create a mental spreadsheet of pros and cons.

The are two key methods not only for improving customers’ shopping experience, but also for increasing the average spend and getting them to come back:

  1. Reducing effort.
  2. Stimulating their imagination.

Less effort required, please

In an article published in 2010 in Harvard Business Review (Dixon, Freeman & Toman), the authors argue that we do not maintain customer loyalty by offering an excellent service, but rather we lose it when we give them a bad service. Customer loyalty is not achieved by delighting them but rather by reducing the effort they have to make.

This argument is along the same lines as the theory put forward by Blake Morgan (2015), who uses a highly illustrative example to capture this situation: “Can you imagine a customer climbing up 1,000 stairs to reach you for help only to be told they need to go back down the staircase and climb another one?” Many customers feel this way, for instance, when they have to contract telephone packages and similar services.

It is often the case that the efforts that customers have to make are not detected because they are considered to be ‘normal’: queues, unintelligible information, not being able to locate products, doubts caused by excessive options, unsuitable timetables, sales assistants that can’t answer your questions or who don’t give you the time of day, etc. The effortless shopping experience is not simply a question of the points of interaction between customers and the company, but rather it involves the customers’ entire “journey from start to finish” (Rawson, Duncan & Jones, 2013), including the phase before and after going into the store (whether it is physical or digital).

In the digital world, a click is an example of an effort. Each click reduces the conversion rate by 20%. In other words, if a potential customer has to click five times, it is highly likely that they do not end up making the purchase.

Other statistics show that a shopping experience involving lots of effort for the customer means a high risk of losing them. According to research conducted by Avaya into the impact of customer effort (Wilson, 2014), a bad experience has greater capacity to negatively influence future shopping behaviour than a good experience to have a positive affect. Looking at it from a different perspective, according to a study by McKinsey cited in Blake (2015), companies that focus on providing an effortless shopping experience reap positive rewards, with an increase in revenue of10-15%.

The statistics are closely linked to human biology. When we are faced with problems when shopping, we need to pay conscious attention, which means our slow cortex is activated and we consume high levels of glucose. As a result, we get tired and eventually get fed up. Our brain likes being on ‘automatic pilot. It loves routine (which should not be confused with boredom).
Therefore, the best purchasing decision is the one in which no decision is required.

The rise to power of imagination

Imagination makes us human, as we are the only animal that can imagine. Imagination is the capacity to picture in one’s mind things that are not present for our senses at that time (Robinson, 2006).

When we do something that we like, our brain generates dopamine and we feel good. The latest research (Kent Berridge, 2014) shows that more dopamine is generated when we are preparing or imagining something that we like than when we actually experience it. This is known as the brain’s ‘as if circuit’: the same parts of the brain are activated when we imagine something pleasant as are activated when we are actually enjoying it.

The interesting thing is that retail can act as this moment of preparation/imagination of subsequent enjoyment. To do so, the store must not simply be a transactional space (I swap you a nice bottle of wine for some money), but rather in must be a launch pad for the customers’ imagination. This is achieved through stimuli that trigger certain emotions and make customers visualize a future moment of enjoyment, such as a family meal next Sunday.

If the imagination is triggered, I can assure you that revenue will rise.

One experience and two roles

We have seen that, if we want customers to choose us repeatedly, we have to ensure that we make things easy for them and that they can make their purchase with hardly any effort. We have to be engineers of frictionless shopping processes.

However, we also have to be scriptwriters, creating a sequence of sensations (the shopping process) in such a way that their imagination generates the sense of wellbeing that dopamine gives.

In short, we have to take on two roles, firstly as engineers and then as scriptwriters of an exciting story. It is well worth the effort.

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Bibliography

  • Castro, D.C. & Berridge, K.C. Advances in the neurobiological bases for food ‘liking’ and ‘wanting’. Physiology & Behavior, 136, 22-30, 2014.
  • Court, D., et al. (2009) The consumer decision journey. McKinsey, June.
  • Dixon, M., Freeman, K. & Toman, N. (2010) Stop trying to delight your customers. Harvard Business Review, July.
  • Morgan, B. (2015) Want a powerful customer experience? Make it easy for the customer. Forbes, 13th January.
  • Rawson, A., Duncan, E. & Jones, C. (2013) The truth about customer experience. Harvard Business Review, September.
  • Robinson, K. (2006) Out of our minds: Learning to be creative. TEDTalks, February.
  • Wilson, M. (2014) Avaya Customer Effort Impact Study Reveals the Cost of Inconvenience. Avaya.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Código 84, number 188

June 2015

What is a name?

Do you know of any company that explicitly states that it pays no attention to its customers? It seems ridiculous to ignore the match referee: the current or potential customer.

It would de hard to find any company that admits that it is not customer-centric and most of them truly believe that they are. However, if we look closely, we see that many of them are really focused on their products or internal process (factories, logistics, etc.). They do not take the customer into account as an individual, with their own profile and contexts. In other words, their relation with the customer is transactional, as if a sale were a case of “I’ll swap you these quality molecules for money.”

How to make a company customer-centric

Many mindful directors undertake actions to make sure that the customer comes first in their company. One extremely interesting method of doing so is to calculate the Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) or, to put it another way, the value in monetary terms of each customer in the long term if the continue buying as they have done to date (see my article ‘Data-driven retail’).This greatly helps us develop an understanding of the impact of decisions on customers.

Now, however, I would like to propose another method: changing the vocabulary that we use.

dentist-name-EN2

image: artchandising

According the Jean Berko Gleason, an expert in socio-linguistics, the words that we use are immensely powerful in terms of shaping how we see things. He refers to this phenomenon as “framing” (De Waal, 2011). The act of choosing a particular world to name a certain thing clearly affects how we perceive it.

Science has demonstrated that the words that we use have a direct and immediate impact on our emotional response and the way in which our brains react (Meacham, 2013). Recent research shows that the different words that we use activate different areas of the brain and end up influencing our behaviour in distinct ways (Sammarco, 2014).

The idea that the way we perceive the world is highly influenced by the concepts (words) that we use is far from new. In fact, throughout the 20th Century, this idea grabbed the interest of many scientists (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy). The most notable of these was Thomas Kuhn (1970) who believed that “what people see depends both on what they look at and on what their previous visual-conceptual experience has taught them to see”. When we change the way we refer to things, we change how we think, and this modifies how we interpret reality and, in the end, how we act.

Taking advantage of science

To emphasize the importance of the customers’ voice, we have to introduce a vocabulary in which they are the protagonists. A change in the language we use can help us to gain a better understanding of our customers (Ehman).

If our vocabulary regularly talks about statistics, ratios and numbers of orders, our activity will tend to be transactional. If we add different facets regarding our customers to our control panels, we will have a far greater chance of becoming part of our customers’ lives.

For instance, it you went to a dentist, think how you would feel if you saw the appointment schedule (see the image above) depending on the different names used in the column showing the people who will be coming.

Let’s look at another example. If I talk about “the Internet of things”, what ideas come to mind? Probably devices connected via the Internet. However, if I say “I can change the colour of the lights in my house from work using my telephone”, you would probably smile, picturing somebody empowered.

In both cases, we are talking about the same thing, but the perception is very different. The terms used can change the understanding of something new and make it more client-centric.

Speaking in a different way is practical

Obviously, changing the vocabulary that we use does not instantly mean that the customer has become the focus of the company nor that the processes automatically change. It takes time. Our ideas flow with their own momentum, based on certain mindsets that we have inherited and use non-consciously.

In order to change our habits in terms of thinking (and taking action), we have to identify them and bring them into our consciousness. As soon as we are able to create a different habit, the mind, as it is can be molded, is reinforced and customer-centricity is achieved. It is well worth the effort.

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Bibliography

  • De Waal, M. (2011) “Jean Berko Gleason on how words influence thought”. Daily Maverick, 26th October.
  • Meacham, M (2013) “How words affect our brains”. Talent Development, 11th July.
  • Sammarco, G (2014) “El futuro de tu cerebro está en tus palabras”. Semana económica, 21st November.
  • Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.
  • Kuhn, T. (1970) The structure of scientific revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Ehman, L. “Create a customer-centric vocabulary”. Selling Power.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Código 84, number 186

April 2015

HANDS THAT SPEAK.Interpretation of Do It Yourself

From 25th to 27th April 2014, 20,000 people visited the Handmade Festival Barcelona, an event exclusively dedicated to activities performed by hand. The 150 exhibiters welcomed a constant flow of enthusiasts who were highly involved in pursuits such as patchwork, machine sewing, scrapbooking, urban gardening, cookery, knitting, furniture assembly, game creation, drawing, decorating, among others.

All the activities are leisure pastimes and have something in common: the consumers are the creators of the product, at least partially. Judging by the faces at the event, someone could tell they were deeply absorbed, involved and happy.

Image: Artchandising

The origins of DIY

The phenomenon of DIY (Do It Yourself) has evolved over time. Its origins date back to the mid-19th Century, fostered by the artistic school of arts and crafts, which was closely related to William Morris, an all-round creator (craftsman, printer, poet, activist, designer, etc.) who rejected emerging forms of mass production.

Moving on to the 20th Century, in the 1950s, there was a great resurgence in DIY after the Second World War, particularly in Central Europe, largely due to high levels of unemployment. This revival involved a wave of home improvements and repairs. This ranged from construction and gardening activities to the creation of all sorts of objects (clothing, furniture, paintings, cushions, etc.).

When unemployment decreased, DIY remained popular as a hobby, as a way to spend free time in an active way.

More than just a low cost alternative

While DIY was already on the rise, the deep economic crisis of 2008 made it even more popular, with lots of new enthusiasts taking up crafts to save money.

However, reducing costs, in terms of money but not time, ended up being a secondary motive for doing things oneself. Interpreting the DIY phenomenon solely in terms of being a low cost alternative would, at the very least, be an incomplete and one-sided assessment.

Types of DIY

In a study of the evolution of DIY, Paul Atkinson (2006: 3-6) divides the activities involved into 4 categories:

  1. Proactive DIY: activities that involve creativity, self-governance, design and skilful manipulation of various types of materials. The motivation behind this kind of DIY may either be personal fulfilment or earning income from selling it.
  2. Reactive DIY: pre-arranged activities in the form of templates, collectable items or kits which involve assembling components. Such DIY pursuits are ways to spend free time, with the resulting personal enjoyment.
  3. Essential DIY: home maintenance activities (cleaning, small repairs, etc.) that are performed out of financial necessity or lack of access to suitable professionals. While such tasks may also involve certain amounts of creativity and personal fulfilment, the main motivation behind them is necessity.
  4. Lifestyle DIY: home improvement or building activities that are performed out of choice rather than necessity. In such cases, this hobby may eventually become a way to make a living.

As you can see, the motivations and purposes for DIY and the approaches to it are extremely varied, but there is an underlying common thread that unites them all: the quest for personal fulfilment through manual work.

The ‘IKEA effect’

There are few things more satisfying that living in a house that you designed yourself, giving a loved one a gift that you have made with your own hands, or telling friends that you knitted the jumper they have just complimented you on yourself.

Manual activities also have a clear therapeutic effect. Not only they generate satisfaction but they also help to improve self-esteem and sense of personal value.

This sense of satisfaction is not only experienced on completion of the project but throughout the entire creation process. Self-created objects are more highly valued because of the personal experience that they embody and the opportunity of taking part in their creation, even if that is only in terms of part of the process and not in its entirety. This phenomenon is known as the ‘IKEA effect’ (Norton, Mochon and Ariely, 2011).

The ‘expert amateurs’

People who do DIY are known as ‘expert amateurs’ (Kuznetsov and Paulos, 2010). The term includes anybody who performs any type of creation, modification or reparation of objects with no professional help and without the underlying intention of selling their creations. While they may end up doing so, selling is never the primary objective or motivation.

Although these pursuits are also becoming increasingly popular with men, such DIY enthusiasts are mainly professional women between 25 and 40 years old with a university education. For these women, DIY is a way to find personal satisfaction by doing things themselves, as well as disconnecting and enriching themselves.

In his book ‘High Tech/High Touch’ (2001), John Naisbitt develops a theory that explains that the more time we spend working on a computer, the more our leisure activities tend to be more sensory and tactile. This is a way of giving free rein to creativity and imagination for people who do not have the opportunity to develop these qualities in their everyday working lives.

Technology as an accelerator

Many people share their creations and advices, whether at conferences and craft fairs or on the Internet and social networks.

The emergence of a large number of blogs, tutorials and exchange and support websites on the Internet has given a great boost to DIY. Social networks also play a key role by letting enthusiasts share pictures and advices, particularly on the more visual platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest.

A perfect example of the online DIY boom is the website ‘The Crafty Days’, a practical guide that lets users delve into the handmade universe, with information on workshops, cafés, open-air spaces and shops of all kinds where manual crafts can be enjoyed. These venues are not only places to buy the materials, but also meeting points for people with common interests where they can create and share their problems together.

Finding a purpose

There is an element of customization in DIY that is also very satisfying. According to research conducted by Kuznetsov and Paulos (2010), one of the main motivations behind creating something with your own hands is the opportunity that this activity gives you to be creative, providing a channel of self-expression.

In a world in which there are an increasing number of identical products, DIY lets you differentiate yourself, creating unique objects with a personal touch. People can build their own identity through the creation of objects that have a personal significance.

There is also an important stress-reducing aspect to DIY, letting us disconnect and find a quiet corner, a haven from the accelerated pace and anxiety of life. This enriching leisure option lets us escape from our problems, exercise our minds and tackle new challenges.

“However, the most important aspect of all, in my opinion, is that it gives people a purpose” (Trias de Bes, 2014). This meaning takes the place of myths and values, giving significance to certain moments in the lives of those involved.

Leaving your mark

To sum up, DIY is a form of self-expression that lets people differentiate them, generating a broad range of positive feelings and emotions for those who take on projects.

As some are already doing, suppliers and retail chains can take advantage of customers’ clear desire to customize and participate in the creation of products and objects. Rather than providing a completely finished product, this means offering something that can be customized and finished by each customer, with a higher or lower commitment of time and effort, thereby letting them leave their mark on it.

In the majority of sectors, mass customization is already a reality that is here to stay.

________________

Bibliography

Atkinson, P. (2006) “Do it Yourself: democracy and design”. Journal of design history, 19(1), pp. 1-10.

El Costurero. (2012) “¿Por qué lo llaman ‘crafts’ cuando quieren decir ‘manualidades’?” (Available here).

Kuznetsov, S. & Paulos, E. (2010) “Rise of the expert amateur: DIY projects, communities and cultures”. NordiCHI’10 – Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Extending Boundaries, pp. 29-304.

Naisbitt, J. (2001) “High tech/High Touch. Technology and our accelerated search for meaning”. Nicholas Braely Publishing.

Norton, M., Mochon, D. & Ariely, D. (2011) “The ‘IKEA Effect’: When Labour Leads to Love”. Harvard Business School. Working Paper, 11-091.

Trias de Bes, Fernando (2014) “De los mercados a los significados”. La Vanguardia, 20th April.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Código 84, nº 179.

A SUGARY INTERNATIONAL RETAIL CHAIN. Interpreting Papabubble

San Francisco, marzo 2014. La nueva tienda de San Francisco, que debía ser abierta ese mes, era el principal foco de interés de Alejandro Siniawski, CEO de Papabubble, una persona tan humilde y simpática, como profesionalmente sabia.

Pese a que cada vez lo tenemos más sistematizado, cada apertura es una caja de sorpresas. Igual acabaré escribiendo un libro”.

Papabubble, que empezó en 2008 -el inicio de la crisis económica en España- con la primera tienda en la calle Ample, en el barrio antiguo de Barcelona, ya está en 13 países.

Imagen: Papabubble

Alejandro Siniawski

Alejandro, Licenciado en publicidad y comunicación de empresas por la Univ. del Salvador en Buenos Aires, ha dedicado toda su vida profesional a los dulces, primero en Cadbury Stani (Argentina), y luego en Chupa Chups y Arcor.

En 2008 vio una tienda especialista en caramelos que dos australianos de Melbourne, atraídos por Barcelona, habían abierto en el 2004. Negoció, la compró y la convirtió en cadena internacional, después de perfeccionar la gestión del front-end y del back-end.

Reinterpretando los caramelos

La calidad y originalidad de sus caramelos, tanto en sabor como en forma, son uno de sus rasgos diferenciales. Alejandro es escrupuloso demandando una extrema calidad en las materias primas. Igualmente, si en el proceso artesanal algún lote no resulta perfecto, se descarta sin pestañear.

En Papabubble son expertos en aplicar la creatividad a los caramelos, reinventándolos y reimaginándolos permanentemente. Para ellos el desarrollo del producto es una parte fundamental de su modelo de negocio. Dedican mucha inversión y tiempo al descubrimiento de nuevos aromas, sabores y formas, así como a la mejora e innovación en técnicas de elaboración.

El resultado son unos caramelos muy originales, de sabores auténticos, hechos con artesanía y mucho mimo. Unos caramelos premium.

Una experiencia para los sentidos

Alejandro tuvo siempre claro que sus caramelos no tienen sentido en un lineal de supermercado convencional. Precisan ser comprados en un taller artesanal. No se vende nada que no haya sido producido artesanalmente en la tienda, a la vista de los clientes.

De esta forma la compra se convierte en toda una experiencia para los sentidos: un baile de colores, procesos y texturas, el olor del azúcar derritiéndose, el sonido de la mezcla al removerse, para finalmente poder tocar y probar los productos, en los que la fresa, realmente sabe a fresa, o el kiwi a kiwi.

Un espectáculo sensorial: la “experiencia Papabubble”.

Las tiendas son conscientemente como un packaging neutro, para que los caramelos y su colorido sean los protagonistas. Todas tienen una parecida distribución en planta en la que destacan un espacio de taller y otro de exhibición, ocupando un total de 45 m2 aproximadamente.

Los caramelos no son sólo cosa de niños

Parece obvio que unos caramelos premium tengan como principales clientes a personas de entre 25 y 35 años, no necesariamente con niños. Suelen comprar los dulces para disfrutarlos o para regalar a otros adultos.

Tanto la forma de los productos -muy distinta a la de los caramelos normales-, como su enmarcado -la tienda y el taller- generan emociones, sorpresa, deseo de descubrir nuevas sensaciones, estimulan la imaginación y los recuerdos.

Los caramelos evocan en esa clientela un viaje hacia la niñez. Se estimula sobretodo la memoria episódica y de largo alcance, apelando a remotas experiencias personales anteriores, que suelen ser positivas, lo que genera esa emoción en el momento del recuerdo (Zurawicki, 2010). Ésta es la base biológica de la experiencia Papabubble.

En un entorno alterado como el actual, estos caramelos creativos, que avivan los sentidos y generan unas emociones positivas, resultan una válvula de escape a un coste relativamente bajo.

Imagen: Martínez-Ribes

El modelo de negocio

Su crecimiento básicamente es vía franquiciados individuales. Tienen dos tiendas propias, que actúan tanto de laboratorio de I+D, como de escuela para nuevos franquiciados.

El sistema de franquicia ha propiciado un desarrollo internacional con 23 tiendas en más de 19 ciudades como Tokio, Amsterdam, Nueva York, Qatar, Taipei, Lisboa, Los Ángeles, etc. El objetivo es finalizar el año 2014 con casi 40 tiendas.

El franquiciado o franquiciada ha de invertir unos 150.000 €, y el contrato firmado es por 6 años, seguido de prórrogas de 4 años. Cada nuevo franquiciado realiza un aprendizaje de tres meses en su academia.

La gama de caramelos varía según las tiendas. La mitad de referencias son iguales para todos, reflejando así el ADN y personalidad de la cadena. Pero luego Papabubble da a sus franquiciados una notable libertad para ajustar la otra mitad de la gama a su zona y país; por ejemplo, caramelos con sabor a Wasabi o té verde en Japón.

Es muy destacable la comunicación interna horizontal entre franquiciados. Tienen un club de best practices, donde comparten métodos exitosos o nuevos productos.

El CEO es plenamente consciente de que su modelo de negocio no es registrable, por lo que resulta de hecho copiable. De aquí que sus dos principales elementos de defensa sean:

  1. Lo que la marca Papabubble evoca en la mente de los clientes, más su saber hacer.
  2. El esfuerzo continuado por crear novedades, sorpresa e innovación.

Alejandro Siniawski cree que dichos elementos aportan el “65%” y el “35%” respectivamente del éxito de su cadena.

Propuestas personalizadas

Cada tienda también ofrece caramelos Papabubble con diseños personalizados para eventos familiares, pero sobretodo para empresas y hoteles: caramelos con el logotipo de la empresa, o de formas específicas para campañas promocionales.

De esta forma, esta cadena de retail (b2c) logra una notable fuente de ingresos vendiendo a otras empresas (b2b). El porcentaje de venta no-retail, que en algunos casos llega al 70% de la facturación del franquiciado, suele ser inversamente proporcional al tráfico peatonal del lugar donde esté la tienda.

¿Un desliz?

Papabubble acepta que en una ciudad donde ya exista una tienda consolidada, su franquiciado abra un córner de unos 6-8 m2 en un lugar comercialmente atractivo, obviamente sin taller artesanal. Alejandro es consciente que en ese lugar la ”experiencia Papabubble” no es completa, porque no existe producción artesanal. Se intenta compensar poniendo un vídeo en el que se muestra el proceso de creación en la tienda.

Seguro que habrá lectores que dirán: si esos córners venden, bienvenidos sean. Otros dirán que ese tipo de “máquina de vender” no desarrolla la marca, porque al caramelo le falta la experiencia completa Papabubble; sólo aumenta la notoriedad. Supongo que usted intuye mi punto de vista: la marca es el principal activo en el balance de una buena empresa.

El regusto final

Papabubble puede entenderse desde la vertiente comercial (una cadena de retail internacional que crece en franquicia) o desde la vertiente de neuromarketing (una marca en retail cuyas raíces están en el más intenso sistema límbico).

A nivel de estrategia de empresa resulta altamente interesante ver cómo una muy bien gestionada cadena de retail permite entrar con credenciales -y sin excesiva complejidad- en el negocio b2b. Todo director de finanzas lo vería con buenos ojos.

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Bibliografía

Zurawicki, L. (2010) Neuromarketing: Exploring the brain of the consumer. Springer edit.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Fuente: Código 84, nº 178.

NOT JUST A FLIGHT – AN EXPERIENCE! KLM, a retail airline

Photomontage by artchandising

Think about your last flight. What do you remember about it? Some hassle like the person in front reclining their seat to within a few inches of your nose? Or maybe a pleasant conversation with the person next to you, prompted by the realisation that you were both reading sailing magazines?

Negative experiences and positive experiences all happen inside the same “package”: the jet cabin. But some one realised that it’s a cabin with a brand, the airline’s brand, so everything you experience in there affects the brand image – for better or worse.

KLM wants to manage the customer experience as part of their branded travel.

An interesting gal/guy in the next seat

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was established in October 1919 to connect Holland to its colonies. In 2004 it became part of the Air France KLM group. With a view to enhancing the customer experience, this retail company has created several new services.

KLM’s Meet & Seat service – “make your flight an inspirational journey” – helps you to locate other people you think are interesting – for personal or professional reasons – and be seated next to them.

The selection is based on the social network profiles (mainly Facebook and LinkedIn) of users who authorise the use of their data beforehand. This enables passengers to find out about the occupation, likes and hobbies of other unaccompanied passengers and decide who they would like to sit next to depending on similarities or interests they have in common.

But… What about my privacy?

Critics of “Meet & Seat” say that KLM may be delving too deep into their lives of their customers. Some feel that KLM is converting the jet cabin into a high-school cafeteria.

One drawback is that users cannot veto who sits next to them, the only escape being to choose another empty seat – if there is one. It is, however, the customer who decides whether or not to be visible and accepts the possibility of sitting next to someone they have something in common with.

In general, customers are increasingly asked to provide information in order to provide personalised services to fit with their preferences. The secret is to strike a happy balance between the information requested and using it appropriately depending on the circumstances and matter in question.

Hassle-free shopping

Another of the Dutch airline’s ventures is “Shop@KLM” which sells the products usually sold by airlines. Purchases can be made on-line at shop.klm.com, for example, before the flight and KLM delivers them either on-board during the outward or inward flight or to your home address.

The customer avoids having to carry gifts about and enjoys an enhanced, more convenient shopping experience.

According to Dixon, Freeman & Toman (2010), customer loyalty is achieved not by fascinating them but by making things easier for them. Hassle-free service increases customer loyalty – and ensures sustainable future cash flows.

I want to travel in a group

KLM has also created a “trip planner” (tripplanner.klm.com) to plan group travel on the Internet in a collaborative way. This app uses each group member’s Facebook profile to suggest destinations and types of trip (beach, party, mountain…) in response to a highly visual, short questionnaire.

The app compiles the group members’ answers and preferences about travel destinations and times, and displays the option that received most votes from group members. An easy, fun and convenient way to plan group travel without the hassle and confusion of countless calls and emails.

KLM is one of the first airlines to integrate social networks into their own sales process – all on the same site.

A cross-channel strategy

These three KLM services are an example of a cross-channel strategy, i.e. the integration of two customer-interaction channels which until recently were apparently separate: on-line and off-line channels.

Generating synergy and integrating the two channels achieved what Steinfield, Adelaar and Liu (2005) define as enhanced legitimacy and trust in the brand, a wider coverage of different shopping preferences and the creation of natural complementary factors between the two “channels”.

KLM doesn’t take advantage of what Gallino and Moreno (2012) explained. These authors observed that BOPS (buy on-line, pick up in store) generates higher sales – not when the on-line purchase is made but when the item is picked up. When customers visit the store to pick up their purchase, they stroll around and increase the likelihood of an additional purchase. In KLM’s ase, products are not picked up in store but the new logistics will probably generate positive spin-offs that have not yet been studied.

KLM’s on-line/off-line integration helps reinforce their brand image as a customer-oriented company that cares about their customers.

Making the most of social networks

On-line/off-line integration is reinforced by using the social networks: proof that they are not just useful for keeping up to date with friends.

KLM’s social network interaction strategy enables them to sell not only plane tickets but also entertainment, networking opportunities and great in-flight service.

KLM as a “curator”

With “Meet & Seat” KLM also acts as a curator, aiming to provide personalised outcomes based on their customers’ needs and preferences. This enables them to empathise more with customers and broaden their travel experiences.

“Be my guest”

Perhaps passengers are more willing to sit next to some one who is a professional DJ, a super model, an astronaut or a Hollywood actor.

In 2012 KLM launched “Be my guest”, a campaign enabling customers to enter a virtual chat room and chat to one of Holland’s six most famous celebrities: Armin van Buuren (famous DJ), Ruud Guillit (footballer), Yfke Sturm (supermodel), Wubbo Ockels (astronaut), Jeroen Krabbé (Hollywood actor) and Hella Jongerius (furniture designer).

Participants answer 5 questions to choose the celebrity to travel with, and then the celebrities themselves decide which participant they will travel with to an inspirational destination. If, for example you are a fashionist, you might end up going to New York on a shopping trip with supermodel Yfke Sturm.

The campaign was a great success and very well received by the general public. It also won several awards and special mentions.

Final conclusions

What matters in business management is not so much having ideas (although they are always welcome), as keeping customers as our compass north, so that a retail company becomes a brand focussed on the clientele.

Because of the empathy generated, customers can be won over in a sustainable and profitable way. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

References

Dixon, M.; Freeman, K.; Toman, N. (2010) Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers. Harvard Business Review. July 2010.

Gallino, S.; Moreno, A.; (2012) Integration of Online and Off-line Channels in Retail: The Impact of Sharing Reliable Inventory Availability Information. Management Science. (Under Review)

Martinez-Ribes, K; (2012) El surtido, los cuadros de una exposición. La curación en Retail. Código 84, nº 167. December 2012

Steinfield, C.; Adelaar, T.; Liu, F. (2005) Click and Mortar Strategies Viewed from the Web: A Content Analysis of Features Illustrating Integration Between Retailers’ Online and Offline Presence. Electronic Markets. V.15, No.3, pp. 199 – 212.

Meet & Seat reviews:
> consumerist.com

Be My Guest reviews:
> keithkornson.nl
> work.davidnavarro.net
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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Código 84, nº 171.

THE PRODUCT’S OUTFIT. Interpretation of packaging management

Image: Container for spices sold in bulk, designed by Carolina Caycedo, which was awarded in the category “Young Design” awards Liderpack of 2011
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On February 1, 2012 the Liderpack Jury granted an award to the best Spanish packagings. The most refreshing category was “Young Design”, consisting of junior creative proposals. One of them was a pack for spices sold loose. It was compact, small and practical, developed by Carolina Caycedo, a student at Elisava School.

We not only acknowledged its style (it was a contemporary revival of the paper cones made by the typical spice stallholders) but also its practicality (it could be opened and closed after use). We valued it because it answered current shopping trends: buying loose.

The packaging is more than just a pack: it is the outfit of a product. As such, it has a double purpose: the functional one, which is protecting the product; and the emotional one, which is evoking the product’s virtues.

Let’s reflect on 6 aspects that all packagings should comply with:

The brand expression
The packaging represents a customer promise. It is like an “imagination shuttle”, for it allows consumers to feel in advance all the sensations and satisfaction the product will convey (1). In other words, the packaging is one of the best means to express the brand sense, especially if done in an implicit and intuitive way.

Due to the power of pack designs, executives are advised to withhold from overstating their promise, that is, from evoking more expectations in consumers than what reality has to offer. Tempting as that may be, customers would feel frustrated and ultimately, deceived.

Galenic innovation

In pharmaceutical jargon, galenic innovation is that which innovates not the product itself, but its applications by making them easier, faster or more convenient to use.

This point is of particular relevance to packaging: a customer-centric approach translates in more product functionality, be it while buying it or using it. The easy-open is a clear example of galenic innovation.

Over time there have been great developments in this area, even in material packs for factory assembly lines.

Knowledge brings love
Information shouldn’t be looked down on, no matter how obvious. Without facts, a product cannot be compared. The info is all the product has to say about itself: in writing, visually and by any other element, that could be semiotically analysed.

Science has made some promising progress in packagings by making them smart. They can now indicate the status of their contents, like for instance, if there has been a break in the cold chain.

Another aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is the text legibility. If a text is hard to read, due to its size or its colour, the pack shall not help at all in creating consumer trust towards the brand. We should bear in mind that seniors are the market segment that enjoys reading the most… and both Spain and Western Europe are areas with a great proportion of elderly people.

With one’s feet on the ground
The cost of mass consumer packaging should be considered with care. Not all markets can allow for the pack expenditure of confectioner’s shops in Japan, to give an example, where the packaging amounts to 30% of the product price.

Nonetheless, one should know where to save money and where not to. As an illustration, take eyeglasses. If these already included from the manufacturer an RFID chip -or similar system-, opticians could not only prevent theft in their shops, but also offer their customers unassisted and open access to their entire frame assortment.

There’s life beyond the shop
The packaging should be thought for two distinct moments (when it is bought and when it is used). From a customer-centric standpoint,  we could add it has also been designed to reduce efforts, either for transport (nature invented watermelons regardless of efficient logistics) or kitchen cupboard organisation.

All in all, we could even take a step further. If the packaging allowed for a replenishment option, that is, once the product has been used and thrown away in the appropriate container, it would automatically activate a device that adds its name in the next shopping list. The order could then be launched later, at the user’s convenience. This is just another example of how online and offline blend together.

Beyond sustainability
No one who ever dares to launch an environmentally unfriendly pack will win the WorldStar, the world’s most renown packaging award.

This environment consciousness is vivid among citizens. The use of sustainable materials and their minimisation are roads from which there’s no turning back. One day, consumers shall expect the environmental footprint of a product to be indicated on the shelf, just as they now can’t do without the price.

There’s another upward trend: the purchase in bulk. One can observe this in many sectors (groceries, flowers, pharmacies, wine, etc.). It is an environmentally conscious practice and a customer-centric exercise: shoppers buy the exact amounts they need every time, increasing their notion of expenditure control.

One might think this trend derives in the death of packaging, although with the loose sale a new ecosystem emerges:

  1. A simple or reusable packaging.
  2. It requires a new container-pack that can adequately protect the product in the shop.
  3. The section where customers can buy loose is a packaging on its own, too, with its scenery and sensoriality.
  4. In many cases, a flexible labelling system shall be necessary, in order to add information to the sold product.
In a nutshell
“Packaging management isn’t only about classy, low price and quality containers. It is a multifaceted business management method, that involves not only rational considerations (price, functionality and technical efficiency) but also emotional ones (the understanding of consumer needs and the subtle reflection of the company brand sense).”
It is a technique and an art at the same time.

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(1: as mentioned in previous bubbles, imagination plays a leading role as a sales stimulus)

Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Código 84, (Burbujas de Oxígeno)

nº 164
June 2012

A STORY ABOUT SEDUCTION. The shopping experience and its evolution in academic investigation

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583 million results in 0.47 seconds. That’s what you obtain when searching “shopping experience” in Google. It is a hot topic, an expression on everyone’s lips… and as a result, paradoxically dangerous.

Here we shall see the evolution of the concept shopping experience in academic literature and conclude with some practical thoughts.

 

The playing field

This experience takes place in the store, where many shopping decisions are taken. How many? I’m not sure, as I doubt that a fully validated percentage even exists. If it did, it couldn’t be applied in the same way to people who are doing their shopping (chore) as to those who are going shopping (leisure). In addition, there are two kinds of buyers who represent different situations:

  • Those who are replenshing, well aware in advance of what they want to repurchase. They know their products so well, that they spot them at first sight on the shelf, just by their shape or colour.
  • Those who make up their mind on the go, based on what they see, read or perceive in the shop. Whatever these end up buying will be much more influenced by what they have experienced in the point of sale than the previous ones. In particular, what shall be influenced is their motivations, beliefs and attitudes.

From 1973 to the early 90s

Philip Kotler (1973) was the first one who claimed that the atmospherics of a shop was a marketing tool. When the design is consciously thought up, it produces emotional effects on the visitor and this increases the probablity of a purchase.

Then, companies in retailing understood the importance of interior and exterior design as a way to stimulate the willingness to purchase. That is, they intended to influence customer behaviour and this aim was their prevailing mindset.

As a marketing tool, the ambience has three main contributions to make:

  1. If properly differentiated, it draws attention to the shop.
  2. It is the message. The shop communicates something to the visitor.
  3. It’s a way of bonding with the shop and its assortment, which increases the immediate intention of purchase.

From the early 90s to nowadays

At that time, it started to become clear that which today is an actual clamor: markets and audiences are increasingly fragmented, and therefore it’s difficult to achieve an effective communication with limited resources. Using the shop as a means of communication could become more cost efficient.

In this context, the main goal was to identify what has most influence on the shopping behaviour.

We can highlight two of the most relevant investigations in this second stage:

Donovan & Rossiter (1982) studied the works of Mehrabian & Russel in further depth, in order to investigate the responses that certain stimuli would cause on visitors. These are some of their conclusions:

A high degree of novelty and sophistication in the shop creates stimulus and interest.

In appealing surroundings, a high level of interest derives in a larger probablity of positive reaction. Conversely, if the interest and attention of a customer are activated in an unpleasant ambience, the reaction is negative.

That behaviour might also determine the time in the shop, the eagerness to explore, the readiness to talk or interact with other people, the predisposition to spend more money than forseen, the intention to return and the customer satisfaction.

Baker et al. (1992) completed the previous model by classifying the variables of the shop’s interior ambience:

  • Atmospherics: music, light, fragrance.
  • Social: presence of sales assistants, furniture and customers. An empty store discourages customers… in the same way that a crammed one would.
  • Design: both functional (wide corridors, e.g.) and aesthetic.

All these points are of proven relevance, but their combined use hasn’t yet been sufficiently ascertained in order to foresee a given outcome out of each mix.

The shopping experience today

The emphasis is currently put on a shopping experience that expresses the differential sense of the chain brand. Firstly, to draw customer attention, and next, to feel the values of the chain at their fullest.

On the other hand, today the shopping experience cannot be complete without taking into account the internet. Similar guidelines to those of brick and mortar shops can be applied, even if less senses are involved.

It is basic that the shopping experience shows the same brand sense as the retail firm, both in the offline and online shops. The interaction experience must be nearly equal, because digital and physical media are every day more intermingled. (87% of people who buy a car in a dealer have checked them all out on the internet previously).

The players

At the beginning, the first companies that enhanced their customer shopping experience were in the retail business already.

Later, suppliers who saw that many of the purchases were decided in situ awakened and chose either of these two paths:

  • To strive to draw visitor attention towards their products in third party shops. Consequently, all sorts of displays and exhibitors have thrived, including sophisticated ones with augmented reality. An avalanche of digital media is now available, yet its focus is in many cases more appropriate for the second stage we mentioned (communication by improved impact) than for enhancing actual brand experience.
  • Other suppliers, conscious of the power of multisensoriality but seeing the limitations of acting upong third party shops, have decided to launch their own retail outlets, both offline and online. The examples flourish in every sector and corner of the world. In the mass consumer sector in Spain there are several yogurt shops opened by Danone, and Nestle launched the webside diseloconchocolate.es (tell him/her with chocolate, in English).

In any case, it’s important to remember that communication flows in both directions. Customers now can and want to say things to companies. Thinking about only improving the unidirectional communication just comes to show an obsolete and ineffective management approach.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

In collaboration with my former student Aline Adam (MSc Esade).

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Bibliography, in order of appearance:

Kotler, P. (1973). “Atmospherics as a Marketing Tool”, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 49, Nr. 4, pp. 48-64.

Donovan, R.J. Rossiter, J.R. (1982). “Store Atmosphere: an Environmental Psychology Approach”, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 58, Nr. 1, p. 42.

Baker, J. Grewal, D. and Parasuraman A. (1994). “The Influence of Store Environment on Quality Inferences and Store Image”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 22, Nr. 4, pp. 330

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Source: Código 84, (Burbujas de Oxígeno)

nº 163
May 2012

WE ARE (ALMOST) BIONIC. NFC, the new way to pay for goods and services

photo: blog.visa.com

ABSTRACT

NFC is an easy-to-use, intuitive technology because all it requires is a simple gesture with your mobile phone.

It increases customer comfort, because it reduces queuing time and there is no need to carry coins or waste time checking change.

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Count the number of plastic cards in your wallet, including credit, debit and the so-called “loyalty” cards. Would you be willing to add another card to your wallet?

Now calculate: How many centimetres away is your mobile phone from your body? Surprised? We are indeed almost bionic.

The telephone has practically become a “natural” extension of our hand, our fingers.

It is not by chance that a mobile phone is reported missing to the police after 4 hours, while a lost passport is reported missing more than a day later.

And what’s more, the phone has none of the problems of space that a wallet does. It is highly likely that with the advent of NFC, Near Field Communication, you will end up replacing it.

What is NFC?

It is an RFID technology that permits two objects in close proximity (usually not more than 4 cm apart) to identify one another and establish communication and data exchange.

One of these objects is typically a mobile phone with an NFC chip. The other may be a device in a store cash register.

How does NFC work?

When the customer goes to pay, if it is a small amount (for example, less that €20) s/he waves the phone near the reader embedded in the cash register and payment is made. If the amount is larger, the customer has to introduce his/her code and choose the credit or debit card with which to make the payment. The system then detects if this person has a “loyalty card” with the retail chain and points are automatically added.

Advantages of NFC

This is a fairly “invisible” technology with no problems adapting to it because it is easy to use and intuitive, needing just a simple gesture. And this is done precisely with the mobile phone, which you always carry with you.

NFC increases customer comfort because it reduces queuing time, and there is no need to carry coins or waste time counting your change.

This is an extremely safe technology because not only does it incorporate encryption to prevent fraud, but you cannot be charged the same amount twice, not even when you swipe the reader twice with your phone.

Why the phone?

My mobile phone is the interface that connects me to my reality, to my world. It is the bridge to my things, to what interests me and what I do. It does not identify me more than a passport, even though I identify myself more with it (and with what it contains) than with a passport. What’s more, it always has real-time connection to the Internet and, therefore, to a server.

NFC can also be used to receive offers or requested information by waving the phone near a chip embedded in a poster at a bus stop, for example. It can also be used for public transport ticketing or as a tool for access control to premises.

Its future

Several research companies point out that this technology is likely to take off in 2014 or 2015. Frost & Sullivan anticipate that the number of NFC-enabled phone users will reach 53% in 2015.

But for this to happen, all the operators (banks, cards, telephone companies, retail chains, etc.) will have to participate actively for users and retail stores to fully appreciate its usefulness.

And things are moving. Visa has already been piloting mobile payments with iPhones in Turkey, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom. In Spain, telephone operators, Telefónica (02), Vodafone UK and Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) have embarked on a joint venture.

In the USA, Google Wallet is almost ready, working in alliance with Citi MasterCard. Google wants to know what information people are interested in. This can be gleaned far more from what people buy than from their web searches. This will enable Google to sell more effectively-directed advertising and also charge retail chains for providing their links.

In Sitges (Barcelona), a trial run was carried out from May to October 2010, with the collaboration of La Caixa, Telefónica, Visa, Samsung and the town council, with 1,500 customers and 500 shops. 90% used the mobile phone payment system and 60% of the transactions exceeded €20, requiring the use of their code. Customers rated their experience 8 out of 10. 90% said they will continue to use it.

Although collaboration is needed, it remains to be seen which companies will come out on top, and how the NFC “control of the waves” takes shape.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

PERKS? DON’T ANNOY ME.

Image: Lluís Martínez-Ribes

ABSTRACT

If companies make it easier for the customer to find a solution, not only do they reinforce customer loyalty, they also improve the perception of the service, reduce their costs and lose fewer customers.

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“Shopping experience” gets over 50 million hits on Google. So it is clearly not a new concept.

In the past, I have explained how shoppers’ behaviour can be changed by managing the specific meaning shopping experience may provide.  It is possible to stimulate the customers’ purchases, acting on their perceptions, for example by reducing their price sensitivity.

Thus, right from the start, the emphasis many managers place on increasing the average sales per ticket might seem reasonable. They can do this either by using “aggressive” media (for example, multiplying the number of “stoppers”) or by playing Shakira’s Waka Waka at full blast.

High-pressure sales?

However, one of the main drivers of a retail firm is customer loyalty. These companies do not make their profit from the gross margin of a transaction, however large that may be. Instead, their economic sustainability is a result of customer loyalty.  It makes more sense for a company to make its main priority to ensure its customers come back.

In hard times, it is not too important if customers buy less, as long as they remain faithful to the same shop.

Thus, it is a highly strategic move to manage the shopping experience, in order to ensure customers loyalty. The main way companies achieve this is by increasing the pleasant aspects of a customer’s shopping experience.

This is done for instance through videos, shop windows with animated elements, unique scents, backlit signs with LEDs, touchscreens, etc.  There is no end to the number of resources used to delight customers.

Reducing annoyance creates loyalty

A study by Dixon, Freeman and Toman (1) reaches the conclusion that simply satisfying its customers’ needs or exceeding their customer-service expectations does not make them more loyal.

Nevertheless, if companies make it easier for the customer to find a solution (2), not only do they reinforce customer loyalty, they also improve the perception of the service, reduce their costs and lose fewer customers.

If they can shop easily, without having to make a great deal of effort, many customers do not notice the absence of incentives on offer in the shop.

This route, reducing annoyance and effort, is very beneficial for both customers and companies.

Despite that, often the efforts customers have to exert are not detected, because they are considered to be “normal”: queues, too much choice, unintelligible information, products that cannot be found, inappropriate opening times, sales assistants who cannot answer customers’ questions, etc.

Once all the problems that customers come up against have been identified, the company may look for ways of solving them.

New indicators

Moreover, it would be a good idea to use a type of indicators that could provide information on the company’s capacity to create loyalty.

For example, the percentage of time spent in the shop that customers feel annoyed or have to exert a great deal of effort.

Or the same percentage including pre-shop and post-shop time.

This customer-centric approach may inspire the design of innovative retail business models.

(1) Dixon, M.; Freeman, K.; Toman, N. (2010): Stop trying to delight your customers, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2010, p. 116-122.

(2) See more in: www.martinez-ribes.com in the article: “Para vender más desde mañana mismo. Lo que realmente compra el cliente”.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Distribución Actualidad, the spanish retail magazine

(nº 425, may 2011)

WHEN THE POINT OF SALE SOUNDS SMOOTH_ Reflections on the DOMUS system at L’illa shopping centre

Image: Rocio Rodriguez

ABSTRACT

L’illa shopping centre has scrapped the piped ‘music’ and has replaced it with a computer system that automatically generates abstract sounds. It is a radical innovation in the shopping experience field.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University have shown that a given melody does not simply depend on musical parameters but also on each individual’s experience. In a multi-segmented retail setting such as a shopping centre, this initiative may make sense.

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Since the 31st of March 2010, the 17 million customers who have wafted through L’illa, Barcelona’s up-market mall, have done their shopping without music.

The decision was a controversial one because many authors, such as M. Gobé (2001), assert that music influences on the time customers take to do their shopping and even on the amount they spend.

The DOMUS system

DOMUS is not just another piped music system. In fact, it does not play music at all. Rather, it provides what might be termed “smart soundscapes”. This sound system has been specially designed for L’illa.

The heart of the computerised system is an automatic sound generator which adds in natural pre-recorded sounds—the tweeting of birds in a garden, waves breaking on the beach, the chimes of bells at midday, for example. It is as if the machine thinks up sounds in real time and orders them without any human help according to the following rules:

The sounds  have to be unpredictable, not repetitive, subtle, pleasant, and different for each area in the shopping centre.

The time of year, day of the week, weather, frequency of visits and pace of shoppers have to be taken into account.

The sounds must not be aggressive or ram tunes into shoppers’ ears. Rather, the idea is that  the soundscape ‘accompanies’ customers, especially when there are few people.

The soundscape should not alter visitors’ behaviour.

The sounds are appropriate for L’illa, an open building with lots of natural light and with its own courtyard.

The sounds appraisal is based on each customer’s subjective perceptions.

This innovation in retailing was the result of collaboration between L’illa’s management and Gracia territori sonor, an interdisciplinary social platform based in Barcelona’s Gracia District whose members share a passion for innovative music.

Doubts regarding DOMUS’ effectiveness

DOMUS is a ground-breaking system but like any innovation, it raises serious doubts.

On the one hand, there is still no evidence that it improves sales or creates greater customer satisfaction.

To measure its real impact, instead of administering questionnaires, whose replies may be biased, it would be better to look at the statistics on complaints to L’illa’s management before and after installing the DOMUS system.

On the other hand, DOMUS breaks with the idea (seldom well-implemented) of using music to change shoppers’ behavioural patterns in order to make more money.

However, Chapin et al (2010) at Florida Atlantic University have discovered that emotional responses and neural triggering depends as much on the parameters of the musical stimulus (for instance, type of sounds, tone, tempo) as on each person’s musical experience.

Accordingly, a given kind of music may generate different emotions in people. In a multi-segmented shopping centre, it therefore makes sense to avoid conventional songs.

Paradoxically this system maximises personalisation given that the sounds are subjectively interpreted at the neurological level.s

Innovation and leadership

Leaders, like L’Illa, may innovate with less risk and their customers expect so. Sometimes –  when innovating – they may save the music license expenses. s

(1) Chapin, H.; Jantzen, K.; Kelso, J.; Steinberg, F.; Large, E. (2010): Dynamic emotional and neuronal responses to music depend on performance expression and listener experience. PLoS One, Vol.5, No.12, p.1-14.

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Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Distribución Actualidad, the spanish retail magazine

(nº 422, january/february 2011)