Are we in control when we shop?

You may think that when enter a store or visit a retail website that you’re completely in control of your senses. You think you know exactly what you want, where to find it and what amount you expect to pay. Would it surprise you to know that each step you take as a consumer has been carefully planned out before you set foot in a store, real or digital? How you navigate, react and what you are drawn to has been researched, analysed and cleverly manipulated. Smart retail experts are tapping into your subconscious and exciting your senses and you don’t even realise! Here are some of the clever ways they do it:


You might think you only notice store music if it’s too loud, but music has a powerful yet extremely subtle influence on our behaviour and buying patterns. Our subconscious is taking note of the tune, either relaxing us into spending more time perusing the store or speeding us up into a more impulsive purchase. Our mood is affected by music too. For example, when we hear classical music, we are more likely to buy high-end items. Wine sellers noted that when they played French music, they sold more French wine.

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This is harder to pin down and you probably couldn’t think of a time when a smell made you buy something. However, your subconscious is in overdrive as smells are the most emotional of all the senses. We get an immediate feeling with a smell. Shops have experimented with this and when floral or vanilla scents are used, sales of women’s clothes doubled! The same thing occurred with menswear when more masculine scents were used. Next time you visit a store, think about what it smells like and how it makes you feel.


Humans are predominantly visual creatures and will respond to images far quicker and more effectively than seeing the written word. A logo, smart graphics or a stimulating image will speak a thousand words for a business. Websites with images perform better than those without and shops with eye-catching and engaging displays and signage will have an edge over their competitors. For the very best in Digital Signage, visit

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Even the way products look and feel when they are on display has a significant effect on whether we buy them or not. Have you ever noticed how when you go to show someone something, they instinctively reach out to hold it? Consumers are no different. We want to feel a product, whether it’s to judge comfort, quality or just to get more information about how it is used. It’s almost like a test drive, so hanging ‘please do not touch’ signs on every shelf is only going to drive customers away.  Many stores offer testers and samples to satisfy this urge in consumers to try before they buy.



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