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Shaping Lasting Retail Experiences through the Lens of Psychology



Feelings influence the choices we make and are at the essence of our humanity. As we navigate through life, our minds develop intricate reactions, known as emotions, based on our perceptions. Don Norman, a trailblazer in emotional design, explains that while our cognitive functions help us comprehend the world, it is our emotional functions that give meaning to the world, shaping our actions, communication, and survival. When we encounter a retail experience, our brain initiates subjective emotional reactions, which set the stage for how we will feel throughout the purchasing process.


This is where the exciting opportunity arises to introduce stimuli that can create enduring memories. In retail design, our objective is to grasp how our clients and customers will perceive and interpret their surroundings, and then anticipate their emotional responses to those stimuli.


Each time we recall a memory, it undergoes a process of reconstruction. As a result, significant moments that stand out, such as high points and low points, have a greater influence on our recollection, and subsequent events can alter our decisions. It is important to emphasize that surprise and delight have a profound impact on what we remember. Robert Zajonc, a pioneering social psychologist, discovered that even simple exposure to unfamiliar things, whether it be random shapes or foreign characters, can enhance someone's positive perception of them. Therefore, increased surprise results in more memorable brand impressions and experiences.


At Space and Shapes, we hold a firm belief that investing in designing seamless, friction-free journeys is not the most effective approach. Instead, brands and retailers should prioritize creating memorable experiences for consumers.


The very channels through which our brain gathers sensory information, forming perceptions and understanding of an experience, are also responsible for weaving the fabric of our memories. It is important to note that designing for one sense can have unexpected effects on another. For example, reducing noise levels enhances visual attention, natural light has significant physiological benefits, multisensory experiences aid in learning, and printed materials stimulate increased brain activity. Notably, the sense of smell and emotion are intertwined in the brain, making it a crucial factor in emotional decision-making within the realm of retail.





Enchanting moments occur, and memories are forged when brand expression electrifies multiple senses. As we continue to advance physical retail, it is our responsibility to harness the power of brand-led touchpoints for customers, enabling them to engage their senses and learn visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically. Once this is achieved, we must guide customers to comfortably and familiarly share their retail and brand experiences. Scientific research shows that expressing our emotions and not suppressing any negative aspects of our experiences leads to increased happiness and a reduction in negative mindsets. This holds tremendous significance for brands and retailers as they strive to cultivate customer trust and loyalty.


Taking into account the aforementioned points, let us leverage our inherent neurological composition to shape customer decision-making through the creation of experiences that foster emotional connections, leave lasting impressions, and inspire individuals to share with intention.





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