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Tempted to buy

More and more shops are using the power of the senses: With audio branding and air design, the high-street retail trade is creating multisensory shopping experiences – and significantly boosting sales.

By Sara Hopp

“Scents slide unnoticed into our subconscious and awaken memories and emotions.”
Robin Hofmann, heardis!

High-street retailers have one immense advantage over the Internet. They can address all our senses. When retailers create the right attractions, they can entice customers into their shops, increase their length of stay and put them in the mood to buy. Whereas sufficient attention is now being paid to in-store visual concepts, the other senses have long been neglected. That is just beginning to change. More and more retailers, hotels and manufacturers are using individually composed music and subtle room scents to make their products and brands accessible to all the senses.

Music to accompany shopping is nothing new. It normally stays in the background, unnoticed. At best, it’s the familiar sound of shopping, at worst it grates on the nerves. It is often completely interchangeable: We probably all visit at least one shopping centre that plays a crude, futuristic electro-mix on a continuous loop to its customers and employees every day. “This can get on your nerves,” says Robin Hofmann, co-founder and creative director at heardis! a full-service agency for corporate sound and in-store music. The former DJ and label owner has made it his mission to create attractive musical brand worlds.

̒Audio branding’ is the name given to this conceptual process, which makes a brand into something audible. “The result of this process is a set of musical and acoustic rules that lay down how the brand sounds,” says Hofmann. A playlist is created from – in some cases – several thousand songs and takes into account not only specific customer wishes but also the time of day and the season. Software with individually defined settings helps to create a special dramatic background, a unique atmosphere. It is tailored to the needs of the target group – and is a long way from̒ elevator music’.

“Music goes straight from the brain to the heart.”
Robin Hofmann, heardis!

“Good audio branding occupies a musical niche for a brand or shop. It does not try to find a common denominator. It analyses the target group, understands the brand and tells its story. The sound image is therefore subconsciously linked to the brand,” says Hofmann. “Music goes straight from the brain to the heart.” The same goes for scents. They also slide unnoticed into our subconscious and awaken memories and emotions. “The olfactory memory works synesthetically,” says Manuel Kuschnig, communication designer at Aoiro Airdesign, an olfactory design studio. In other words: Not only can fragrances be smelled, they also trigger images, acoustic memories and feelings. In a sense, they are air corridors to the soul. Air designers are artists who develop ̒corporate smells’ for brands or companies. “It’s about invisible air design. The scent compositions become part of the overall interior and integrate all sensory impressions. For far too long, the sense of smell has been neglected in interior design, thus missing out on an essential component of the multi-sensory experience,” explains Kuschnig.

But what makes the right room fragrance? “Every successful fragrance creation has a specific quality to put the customer in a certain mood,” says the air designer. “Fragrances can have references to matt, velvety or metallic textures. They can be soft or hard. They can trigger moods relating to seasons or times of day. They tend to be either masculine or feminine and often give a feeling of a particular age of life. All these elements can be combined in different ways to create new contexts.”However, you can’t just get away with a scented candle: Cold air diffusers offer the highest possible fragrance quality and disperse natural essential oils in the room without heat.

Whether we are looking at sounds or fragrances, the trend is towards an individual and subtle sensory experience that fits perfectly into the visual framework of the store design. The result is a finely tuned multisensory experience that enables a brand or shop to be experienced with all the senses. It has a lasting impact on the company’s image, promotes identification, increases the length of time spent in the store – and boosts sales.


Presentation. Experience. Motivation.

How do I create new shopping experiences for my customers and increase awareness of my store? At the new Tendence. Impulse platform in Hall 11.0, the trade fair and the industry provide answers to this frequently asked question at a joint presentation area, in workshops and on stage. Using specific examples, they describe point-of-sale campaigns that any store can implement. Of particular interest is the newly developed impulse.tool online platform. The platform includes details of promotions, events and workshops created by experts that registered retailers can tailor individually Tendence takes place at the perfect time of the year for ordering calendars. It’s no surprise then that the new Paper & Friends exhibitor platform focuses on wall calendars. However, it also offers a great deal more, including a unique curated mix of calendars, cards, stationery and gift books from well-known brands as well as innovative newcomers. Buyers will gain inspirations for their own point of sale from this delightfully purist presentation. The platform was conceived by Angelika Niestrath, who is an expert in the field of supplementary product assortments and product presentation. She advises retailers, publishers and manufacturers and is also responsible for launching the non-book area at the Frankfurt Book Fair. to their own business. They can select from a list of campaigns relating to cooking, drinking and styling, use the accompanying video tutorial and adapt them for their own shop with the help of a clear planning aid. Register now at

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