The Purchasing Power of Om
More stores are offering complimentary drinks, posh private events after hours, and cushy seating in order to get shoppers to relax enough to pull out their wallets. Increasingly, there is science behind it.
According to a study from Columbia University, Relaxation Increases Monetary Valuations, participants were randomly shown one of two ten-minute videos. One showed nature scenes with a soothing voice encouraging breathing exercises; the second showed robots. Afterwards, participants were shown photos of ten products, such as a picture frame or LCD monitor and asked how much each were worth. The participants watching the more relaxed videos on average indicated the products were worth about 11 percent more than the non-relaxed participants.
Speaking to INC Magazine, Michel Tuan Pham, a business professor at Columbia and co-author of the study, said relaxation isn’t just soothing, it promotes abstract thinking, which results in customers thinking about the general benefits of products rather than specific features.
The findings were correlated by a study in the upcoming Journal of Marketing Research that found relaxed shoppers were willing to pay up to 15 percent more for goods than less relaxed ones.
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, that’s why high-end boutiques are increasingly providing amenities to encourage relaxation. For instance, Tommy Bahama will begin greeting shoppers with trays of complimentary mimosas and snacks from their attached restaurants starting in mid-November after finding success with similar approaches in past years. Williams-Sonoma is likewise significantly handing out more samples this holiday season.
Department stores are said to be achieving a similar effects by adding in-store cafes or breaking up a large stores into small rooms. Mall developer Westfield Group is adding cushy seating areas with couches and free Wi-Fi hotspots in the public areas in some of its 55 U.S. properties.
Nordstrom will be hosting more evening shopping parties this holiday season for its best shoppers, while FAO Schwarz is running a promotion offering special tours two hours before its Manhattan flagship opens.
Besides free expresso (and cocktails on some nights), outerwear maker Weatherproof’s first flagship in Manhattan includes a no-smartphones policy in a setting intended to mimic a hip Manhattan apartment to drive casual conversations.
“We’re providing a great venue for people to visit, put their feet up, and enjoy face-to-face conversation,” Freddie Stollmack, president of Weatherproof, told Chain Store Age.
- Why it Pays to Help Holiday Shoppers Relax – INC Magazine
- Just Relax, Then Buy More and Pay More For It – The Wall Street Journal
- Weatherproof store to have ‘leave your Blackberry at the door’ policy – Chain Store Age
Discussion Questions: What do you think of encouraging relaxation as an in-store selling tool? What are some of the best ways you’ve seen stores help customers unwind?