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A Multisensory Approach for Branding Your Salon or Spa
In this competitive market, a unique brand identity is key to survival. Along with great spa treatments and superb customer service, the ambiance you create is one of your best marketing tools.
Connecting emotionally with your customers can increase brand loyalty as well as sales, and a multisensory approach to marketing your spa is a great way to do just that. Whether for an event or for a full season, ambiance marketing that incorporates custom-designed settings can infuse an alluring experience that will stay in your customers’ minds. Consumer purchase decisions are increasingly driven by their emotions, so effectively engaging them through the five senses can lead to increased sales.
Your spa may be clean, smell pleasant, with appealing décor – but what’s critical is that the customer’s whole sensory experience is funneled through the spa’s identity. If done correctly, a person may not be able to put it into words, but their experience will just feel right to them and evoke a strong positive emotion.
All spas engage the sight and sound senses, but about 80 percent of what we remember is based on what we smell, taste and touch. In order to be effective with creating a true experience, you should attempt to incorporate an integrated approach across various touch points with the purpose of engaging customers.
Consider coming up with an ambiance that is unique to your spa, and will represent your business, your vision and how you want to be perceived. Start with thinking of your customers (or if it’s an event, of the guests) and make sure to match the look and feel to what you believe would appeal to them.
When developing your spa’s ambiance, consider the following factors to engage the five senses:
SIGHT – you may have already set you decor years ago and may not have the budget or intention to remodel. You can easily enhance and/or modify your environment using lighting, colors and accessories. For an evening event you can create a relaxed atmosphere using lit candles and/or dimmed soft halogen or LED lights. You can add curtains, pillows and a vast array of items to match a particular theme (season, holiday, a certain geographic location or culture). If for example your spa is designed and conceived based on a particular culture (Japanese, Italian, etc.), you can use certain colors and accessories throughout the spa to enhance that concept. Remember to not overload the space and keep the design minimalistic as well as practical for working and movement.
Consider approaching local artists and have them display their art on your walls – they will happily do it for free for the exposure. You should choose an artist whose work matches the style of the spa. You could consider changing the art every season or every few months.
If the products you carry vary in their colorings, consider arranging the brands according to colors and not function. It can be done as long as there is some logic attached to it, and use shelf talkers and signage to assist customers.
SOUND – music can make or break an event and even the general ambiance of your spa. Presumably you’re already using music in the treatment rooms, and some spas even offer their clients the ability to choose their preferred music. That said, you could still use music to enhance a special event or the entrance/reception of your spa. You can modify the volume or even the type of music for various sections/rooms of your spa and set the tone and energy that way.
A cocktail reception allows for a more upbeat music. For the general day-to-day operations you can choose a different music choice for the entrance/reception than the one playing in the treatment rooms. Going with the previous example of a culture theme or identity, you can use exclusive music from a particular country (French music for a French-themed spa).
SMELL – Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, which is considered to be the center of emotions - we all know that smells can evoke strong emotional reactions and bring up memories.
By simply burning aromatic candles or incense, you can easily enhance your spa’s ambiance. Choosing a scent can be tricky – clearly you cannot please everyone and hopefully you won’t offend or trigger someone’s allergies…
For starters, consider using palm, soy or beeswax candles (as opposed to paraffin) and make sure the weak is lead-free and soot-free.
Try to match the scent to the theme or the overall image you are trying to achieve but perhaps stay away from heavy scents or food scents. For example, if you’re planning a fall or Thanksgiving event and are decorating your space with cranberries, pumpkins and leaves, avoid using pumpkin pie or cranberry spice candles – that might be overkill and personally I don’t think food smells work well with spa environments. Opt instead opt for vanilla, which in studies has been universally perceived as pleasant. When in doubt, experiments have shown that we tend to like scents we recognize and identify. If you are unsure about a scent, ask several people before you decide to infuse your whole spa with it.
TASTE – If you are not currently offering refreshments at your spa, consider adding fruits to your water, or adorning your water glasses with a slice of fruit that matches your theme/identity. For an event, select foods that will work with the whole experience, but take caution to not clash with your signature scents. It’s best to avoid foods that smell too strongly (unless their smell somehow works with what you’re trying to achieve). Remember that presentation is equally important and you could choose certain plates, cups, utensils and napkins to work with your spa identity.
TOUCH – this scent can be the trickiest, but since you are in the business of literally touching people, textures and comfort are an important part of the spa identity. “Touch” is also the physical being in a space – so make sure your design is ergonomic. The more comfortable the space, the longer guests and customers will linger in any given area.
A lot can be said about choosing specific materials for designing your space, but for an already-built spa, you can engage customers with textures and temperatures. Handing a warm soft towel for guests to wipe their hands can be a signature gesture/ritual. Holding a warm cup of beverage in a winter event can add to the scent, music and temperature that are already engaging the customer. The texture of your towels, sheets, slippers and robes is important. So are the surfaces of your couches, chairs and counters. And of course, your choice of treatments can fit right in with a certain identity.
Engaging your customers through their five senses can differentiate your spa brand, drive repeat business, and build brand loyalty. Remember to stay consistent with your spa image, match everything to the likes of your guests/customers, and stay fresh and creative with your ideas.
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