There aren’t too many supermarkets in the world that can boast Genelec loudspeakers, but K-Supermarket Hertta in Herttoniemi, Helsinki, is clearly not your average supermarket. Part of the K Group, the second-biggest grocery trade operator in Finland and one of the biggest in Northern Europe, K-Supermarket operates some 250 stores at the top end of the market, offering customers a high-end in-store experience with a carefully selected range of local produce and specialties.
At K-Supermarket Hertta, Markus Ranne, the independent merchant who runs the store, decided to elevate the experience still further with the use of sensory marketing–a combination of scent and sound design to attract customers and encourage them to linger. He called on Helsinki-based sensory marketing specialists Sevende Aromas to design the environment–for which they specified Genelec 4000 Series installation loudspeakers.
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“Sounds can affect people’s comfort and shopping behavior in most commercial spaces and environments such as supermarkets, hotels, offices, bars, and restaurants. The sense of hearing is our third most dominant sense,” explains Sevende Aromas’ founder and CEO, Eero Niskanen. “Studies have shown that the right kind of sound environment can increase sales by up to 30 percent and it also has a positive effect on the work efficiency of employees. When it comes to scent design, research tells us that customers stay up to 40 percent longer in a fragrant environment. Fragrance is therefore an important part of branding. K-Supermarket Hertta was keen to incorporate both elements as part of their commercial strategy.”
Sound designer Aki Päivärinne explains that the brief was to create a relaxed and immersive sound space for the newly renovated fresh fruit and vegetable section, and stereophonic sound for the candy department. “This was an inspiring task since I had also created the previous monophonic sound design for the store, including the beer and beverages department,” he said.
“In my work I use a variety of computer programs, including electro-acoustic modelling software. In this instance, as the speaker setup in the fruit and veg department is not symmetrical, I created a model of the space within the software to calculate the delay times required for realistic 3D sound images.”
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The setup consists of 12 Genelec 4030 loudspeakers evenly spaced above the refrigerator elements or suspended from the ceiling, while eight compact 4020s grace the drinks section and a further four are deployed in the candy section. These are complemented by eight strategically placed fragrance machines, which deliver the scent experience. Control comes courtesy of a QSC Q-SYS Core 110f processor with a touchscreen interface for managing level control across the various zones.
“To develop the soundscape for the fruit and veg area, I started by imagining some kind of surreal colorful fruit-world,” continued Päivärinne. “I started hearing the lush forests, distant animals, shifting weather patterns, poetic saxophone phrases, light and sea, and harmonic clouds overhead-creating a relaxing and safe feeling. After the first listening I made some small adjustments to the dynamics of the material which now sounds fantastic. I am really happy with the outcome.”
When asked what prompted the decision to specify Genelec loudspeakers in this context, Päivärinne’s reply was straightforward, “I have worked with Genelec loudspeakers in various projects over the last 10 years or so and have always enjoyed using them. In this instance, the 4000 Series offered a high-quality, reliable solution for creating an immersive soundscape. They also look good, which is a bonus.”
Combined with the scent design provided by Sevende Aromas–who also handled the systems integration–the results have had a marked impact on sales, as proven by a recent study conducted by Helsinki University. “The study compared the results of sensory marketing against those of a similarly sized supermarket using traditional marketing techniques,” noted Niskanen. “The supermarket using sensory marketing was more successful in every respect and customer satisfaction levels were considerably higher.”
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The impact of sensory marketing is not only measured by an immediate increase in sales. Positive perceptions of where to buy help build a lasting and loyal customer relationship over the longer term. It is natural to want to do business in pleasant places, and it has been proven, time and again, that combining fragrance with the right sound has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
“We used quality scents and worked with a talented sound designer to create an alluring soundscape,” Niskanen continued. “The soundscape uses a combination of natural sounds and musical elements. For it to be truly immersive it’s important that it sounds realistic; this is why we opted for a high-quality audio solution based on Genelec loudspeakers, which deliver detailed, transparent sound even at low levels. There is no doubt that Genelec played a major role in the outcome.”