At Christmas the sensory impact can already be overwhelming and standing out amongst the cacophony can be a real challenge. The result is frequently a high street shouting match. No wonder many of us have retreated to the internet to do our Christmas shopping. This heralds a missed opportunity, not just to make the sale, but also to build a trusting relationship and great brand experience with your customers.
The temptation is to add cliché Christmas music, smells and decorations. There are two problems here: the first is that Christmas experiences are by default, well Christmassy, and they don’t represent your brand (unless your shop happens to be the 25th December shop in Bath); and the second is that given the heightened seasonal stress levels and the relatively limited and repetitive repertoire of festive encounters you will just be adding to the noise and stress. So rather than churning out the same playlist or lighting an orange and cinnamon candle you can create a sanctuary and design your own Christmas.
A sense of sanctuary is powerful at this time of year. If you focus on making the services relevant and the staff full of Christmas joy, (as well as enabling them to be heard!) you are helping to solve the Christmas stress and panic.
It’s also important to realise that no sense exists in isolation. What we hear affects perception of touch, taste, safety. What we see and hear affects our perception of taste. Seeing a picture of a mountain CAN actually make the water taste cleaner and red lighting can make a bun taste sweeter. It is essential to consider the interplay between the senses. Businesses frequently forget to consider the sensory interaction, particularly at Christmas. Nobody wants to walk into an environment where all your senses are assaulted. It means there is no space to think, feel or explore: it can trigger our instinct to fight or flee.
Used well, one sense can enhance perception and experience of another, together they should work in harmony and to have an effect they need to be noticed. So if you are turning up the music and the smell, dim the lights and give everyone the space to enjoy a little dusting of the magic of Christmas.