Interviewer: What would entice you to stay longer in a shop and possibly buy more? Well obviously, that depends on how attractive you find what the shop is selling. After that, perhaps the duration of your stay has to do with the way the goods are displayed, and the shop’s interior design. But beyond what you can see, beyond the way the place excites your sense of vision, how can the shop keeper engage with your other senses, what you hear or even what you smell? Well, that question has led our next designer to develop an innovative approach to branding businesses through sounds and scents. Simon Faure-Field, CEO of the Singapore company, Equal Strategy designed customer experiences for shops, hotels, supermarkets, airports or any business you can imagine, and his tools are music and fragrance. He joins us now on the line from Singapore.
Interviewer: Simon Welcome
Simon: Hey, good day, good afternoon
Interviewer: Now, let’s begin with how what we hear can influence what we buy. I understand you were an interior designer and an occasional DJ when you moved from Britain to Singapore 15 years ago to work for a telephone messaging company. Now, anyone who has ever been put on hold and had to endure 10 minutes of monotonous alternating music knows how infuriating that experience can be. So what does a telephone messaging company do? And what did you learn from working for one?
Simon: Well, basically, it’s a certain approach where if you make that time spent on our more enjoyable, more engaging, and more of a pleasure as opposed to a chore, people will actually spend more time waiting on hold, and you can use that as an opportunity to educate your phone callers about that particular company unique policy, and really, that’s what kind of brought me into the scientific aspect of influencing people’s behavior to what they hear.
Interviewer: The term “elevator music” cancels out the idea of something very bland. I don’t think they play music in elevators anymore, not sure why they ever did. But they certainly do in supermarkets; it’s normally quite upbeat and cheerful. Can music like this influence our desire to shop?
Simon: Definitely, music influences our behavior on a subconscious level, and two different aspects to be looking at is the tempo of the music because if you play fast tempo music, people will move more quickly, opposed to if you’re using slow or downtempo music because people actually slow down, and if they are in an environment that has downtempo music, they’ll be more relaxed and if they are walking around the shop, they will be more inquisitive, more impulsive, and what the researchers found is that in supermarkets, if you play downtempo music, sales can increase by 38% compared to using no music or high tempo music.
Interviewer: That’s very interesting. Now, supposing I were to open a hotel and I asked you what type of music I should be playing in the lobby, what would your approach to that question be?
Simon: I think it’s a multi-faceted aspect of hospitality and customer environments, but we would be looking at firstly, the brand of the operator because, different types of brands cater to different tiers of markets, and they have different concepts, and identities they are trying to portray, for example, if they had a property catering to the high-end of society and very classic, then you wouldn’t be playing pop music in there, you would be open to using music that was conducive with that type of identity; classical music would work there possibly. So we look at the brand, we look at the design of the space; we look at the sort of mood they want to create, how they want people to be. So again, it comes back to the behavior part of music where if you want people to relax, don’t play high tempo music. If it’s an environment you want people to move around more quickly, then be using high tempo music.
Interviewer: I once went to a hotel and I think I was in the bar, and it was a very quiet bar, and they were playing music, and the music was, “The Wolves”. I now realize “The Wolves” from Steven Sound Times Musical, a little night music which is very edgy, very nervy music. I found it a very unsettling experience, just sitting there with a drink.
Interviewer: On ABC Radio National, I’m [unclear 5:19], and you’re with By Design, and I’m talking to Simon Faure-Field, CEO of the Singapore company, Equal Strategy, about the use of fragrance and music in branding. Simon, when did you get the idea of combining scent with music to create a consumer experience?
Simon: It was about 5 years ago. I met a gentleman, Martin Lindstrom, who was launching a book about scents, and branding being multi-sensory. I met him at an event he was running, and I primarily went there to listen to his views on music and how that tally with branding, and he started to talk about his sense of smell and how the five senses are connected to the brain’s sense of memory and emotions, and how you can stimulate people’s behavior in a similar way to music, base it on what people smell. I left there fascinated and thinking wow, that was amazing. So I spent some time researching, and I found some good quantity papers; that if you actually align the arousal qualities of the fragrance with that of the music, then the two actually work more powerfully together.
Interviewer: And then, these sorts of aromas — that I’d recognize from a perfume counter or are they specific? I mean, are they things like if you’re selling bread, for example, do you have bakery smells around the shop?
Simon: I think that’s where the industry used to be about 10 to 20 years ago. They were very focused on using food smells to influence behavior from a food-craving perspective. What’s actually happened over the last probably 8 to 5 years is the big trend that people want to have scents which are reflective of their brand, and unique for their brand, so then we actually worked with a big fragrance house who was actually responsible for creating perfumes, such as Chanel, and Anna Sui. We were able to work with their perfumers, so we could develop fragrances that have blends of up to 4 to 5 very special ingredients, and this way, we can create a scent that is very attractive, very sophisticated, but it smells far better than having something simple, such as vanilla or bread.
Interviewer: Whether it’s a hotel or a shop, once you’ve decided an appropriate fragrance for that business, how do you actually get it to be airborne? I presume customers aren’t being sprayed with perfumes when they enter the shop.
Simon: Well, shops still having people spraying their own scents into the air manually, so that’s very much one of the very old-fashioned ways of doing that. Also, you come across people with the aromatherapy banners in the corner with naked flames, that are so dangerous, as a fire hazard; and are labor intensive. So we partnered a technology company, Brandaroma (now owned by Scentair), and they’d developed a system where we take a liquid scent and have the ability to vaporize it at a constant rate all day long, and when that’s connected to the air conditioning system, you find that the scents in the air which blow off left and right allow you to create a scent level in the area that is consistent all day long, every day.
Interviewer: Well, Simon Faure-Field from Equal Strategy, thank you very much for giving us a width of some very interesting thinking.
Simon: Lovely! Thank you very much.