Unilever was launching a shampoo in Asia when an employee wrote on the label "contains the X9 factor." The mistake went undetected by the company and soon millions of bottles of the shampoo were shipped to stores. It would have cost too much to recall the shampoo, so Unilever simply let it be. Six months later, when the company reprinted the label, they left out the reference to the non-existent X9 factor. To the company's surprise, they soon received a deluge of outraged mail from their customers. None of the customers had any idea what the X9 factor was, but many claimed that the shampoo wasn't working anymore and their hair had lost its luster. It just goes to show the more mystery and intrigue a brand can cultivate, the more likely it will appeal to us.

Selling to Our Senses
Visual images are far more effective, and more memorable, when they are coupled with another sense. Imagine viewing a fish dinner along with the slightest whiff of lemon, perhaps evoking the summer spend grilling fresh fish on the beach. That's because the sight and smell of the product were congruent—a perfect collaboration between eyes and nose. 

The same principle should apply to both sight and smell when the consumer enters a salon. 

The most recognized smell in the world is Johnson's Baby Powder. Yet practically nobody remembers the Johnson & Johnson logo. Of all the senses, smell is the most primal. With all other senses, we think before we respond, but with scent, your brain responds before you think.

Color Psychology
When asked the importance of buying products, 84.7 percent of consumers claimed that color amounted to more than half the criterion they consider when choosing a location or a brand. Color energies affect our brain. Neurotransmitters in the eye transmit information about light to the brain and release a hormone that affects our moods, mental clarity and energy level. 

Brown is conducive to hunger. That's why McDonalds' tray are all brown, and the color is used as part of the design for restaurants. Light purple is the color most conducive to buying. An accent color of red at the back of a retail area contributes to drawing the consumer to the back and encourages the brain to spend.

It is important to incorporate all the sense into the design of a consumer location in both the retail and service areas. Tomorrow's retail world will have distinct smells. It won't be black and white, but in vivid color and will infuse your senses and leave you humming. This assault on your senses will be more effective in winning your mind, your loyalty, and your dollars than you ever thought possible. The road to emotion runs through our sensory experiences. And, emotion is one of the most powerful forces in driving what we buy.

Now you and your brain have a better understanding of why we buy—the hidden preferences, unconscious desires and irrational dreams. Thanks to nueroimaging, we can now understand better what really drives our behavior. 

Science and marketing have come together. Science is hard fact, and the final word. Marketers, on the other hand, have spent more than a century throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping it will stick. 

Until recently, marketers and advertisers haven't really known what drives our behavior, so they've had to rely on luck or chance. But now we know that roughly 90 percent of our consumer buying behavior is unconscious, and the time has come for a paradigm shift. The design and strategic blueprint of our salons today and in the future must be around creating an experience for the consumer.

In the series:

Consumers Think: Part One

Consumers Think: Part Two

Consumers Think: Part Three

Consumers Need

How Consumers Think: Part 3Leon Alexander is president of Eurisko, a comprehensive design, consulting and distribution source servicing the salon and spa industry. He holds a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology.

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