Branding expert says lighting showrooms should increase sensory appeal
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Martin LindstromA prominent branding expert urges lighting showrooms to broaden their sensory appeal.

Residential Lighting: What’s your new book, “Buyology,” all about?
Martin Lindstrom: The “Buyology” study is the largest neuro-marketing study in the world. We learned that 85 percent of everything we do takes place in our subconscious mind. We also learned that the power of the logo is about to fade away. The surprising fact is that using a logo, in many cases, dilutes the [marketing] message. So, the majority of [careless] sponsorships and product placements, around 95 percent [of them], are a waste of money.

Residential Lighting: How did you conduct your research?
Martin Lindstrom: Our findings are based on 2,000 brain scans [performed] in five countries. The $7 million study took four years to [complete] using two highly advanced scanning technologies, fMRI [functional magnetic resonance imaging] and SST [steady-state typography], which tracks rapid brain waves in real time.

One fascinating experiment taught us that playing music in a store can affect people’s purchase intent. French, Italian and American music was played [in a wine store]. When Italian music was played, the sales of Italian wine went up more than 50 percent. The same [thing occurred for] American wine when American music was played, indicating the importance of subconscious signals and sensory signals in store environments.

Residential Lighting: Did the study reveal anything about in-store displays?
Martin Lindstrom: Smells are incredibly important and set the stage for certain moods. If the store smells of wood fire, people are more likely to buy “cozy” lighting. If it smells of cleaning products, people are more likely to buy “bright” lights.

Residential Lighting: According to “Buyology,” a Mini Cooper engages the facial-recognition portion of the brain. What does that suggest?
Martin Lindstrom: Everything sends signals, and those signals form our perception of the world. At a subconscious level, the Mini Cooper appeals to the female audience due to its baby-face design.

Lighting, too, is all about moods and ambience, and using the senses to build this is essential—playing the right sound in combination with the right lighting levels, or, if possible, [introducing] the right smells. We know from the study that the senses of smell and sound are substantially more powerful than the sense of sight when building brands. Retailers, therefore, should carefully consider how to leverage these senses in their retail store environment.

Residential Lighting: What are some more tips for lighting showrooms?
Martin Lindstrom: When designing retail stores, I would focus on the sensory dimension—how to appeal to as many senses as possible. We now know that the synergy between our senses is amazingly high, and so by letting them play together, you can secure increased sales.

Martin Lindstrom is a branding and marketing expert and author of “Buyology: Truth and Lies About
Why We Buy.”

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