Sensory Example 4

Trending clothing retailer floor area using smell, taste, and touch.

For this example, we will look at a retail space. It is a clothing shop that is in fashion and wants to continue getting publicity with the introduction of sensory design in its stores. A space within the store that is usually relatively utilitarian, the floor area, with the clothing racks, shelving, displays, and try-on rooms is a great chance to embellish the sensory program. The chosen senses are interestingly taste, as well as smell and touch. The other senses, vision and hearing, are already addressed with the actual clothing, advertising, and instore displays, as well as the music and verbiage of the employees in the store.

The problem with fashion is that it changes over time, so the experiential moments should be temporary, that is being present in the store from one month to one year, depending on the campaign and design intentions. So, these moments should be easy to change over the weeks of the marketing effort, but the inputs should be similar enough that a theme is clear and relevant.

First, we will look at using smell. Commonly, we will use a subtle, pervasive scent, but in this case, because of the client, it is likely appropriate to create a smell landscape with varying scents. Unlike, in other examples, these scents do not need to be subtle. Instead, they should be localized so there is variation across the store–little moments of scent that garnish the store experience. What is funny is smells go in and out of style, so it is required, to keep the store current, to use a scent expert or a designer that understands the fashion to choose the scents. Nevertheless, for this example we will choose acceptable smells for the time of this writing. First, we will use orange zest, which has the classic smell of orange, but provides a ping of citric that is very common in processed foods. It smells excellent and is easy to obtain. This scent can be on cards, in a liquid form, or raw in a small bowl as if they are to be used in cooking.

The next scent is a combination, like a chord of smell, relying on the low subtle smell of cucumber and the sharp points of cayenne. This is a soothing smell that occasionally spanks those experiencing it. There is a great deal of contrast in the parts, which makes it enticing. Although we could rely on only cayenne, we would not have the enticing cucumber to draw in the user.

The final scent is that of fresh paper and artificial raspberry. This smell is again a combination, however it is not a complete change from sweet to sour, instead both are relatively enjoyable, but the artificial raspberry is the highlight that rounds out a somewhat flat smell of paper. Although the fine piper is a nice smell, it may be considered monotone. This scent would be on the packaging materials at the point of sale.

For taste, we would like to introduce food items that are used to entertain and augment the smell program. This could be free snacks, appetizers, and drinks. But, they could also be candy, gum and other junkfood. For this example, I suggest using candy with fruit tastes and aromas. This could be Lifesavers or a similar candy. This will provide the tang, but other food items should be used to sooth and attract the customer. Two items that would work very well are ice cream and flavors of fizzy water. Both of these are enjoyed by most people, they provide taste, as well as smell.

For touch, we would like moments throughout the store to allow physical interaction. They should be distinct but should all tie into the design scheme. For this project, I suggest starting with something quirky: perhaps, we can use rough stone busts of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Bob Ross. These busts should be near table height to encourage touching and should not easily degrade, with all of the handling.

Another touch experience is the use of corduroy or corrugated material on the wall, offset by half a unit to provide continuity but without complete alignment. These walls should be very near the customer and within reach. This will encourage the user to run their hands on the wall as they traverse the space.

Finally, changing the floor surfaces between parts of the floor and room is useful for both adding textural variety but also to designate spatial uses. When doing this, the designer can determine the meaning of the surface qualities–what does it mean to be smooth? Ridged?

All of these possibilities should be used regularly or periodically throughout the campaign: it is not necessary to proscribe the experiential moments in the store or group of stores.

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