When a customer enters one of your fitting rooms, what do they experience?

That’s the question prompted by a new study conducted by consumer scientists Maryke Vermaak and Helena de Klerk. This study found that female millennials, who spend more time in fashion retail stores than any other age demographic, view the dressing room as a ‘make or break’ segment of the in-store experience, with dressing rooms that fall short of expectations even encouraging customers to leave a store. This should not be too surprising, as the dressing room is where shoppers most often decide whether to purchase an item or not. And yet in Vermaak and de Klerk’s study, many fitting rooms fell far short of the high expectations held by millennial customers.

millennials seek an immersive, engaging in-store experience

Millennials perceive shopping as fun and tend towards impulsive, unplanned purchases. But the women surveyed in this case study also held extremely clear notions on what the in-store experience should entail. Most notably, they expected retailers to provide an immersive, experiential dressing room environment that tapped into all five senses. Since consumer decision-making has largely shifted from rational to emotional, this multi-sensory experience is vital in keeping millennials captivated and excited throughout the in-store experience.

This increasingly technologically-connected world has enabled near-instantaneous access to an ever-expanding wealth of information. Raised within this new culture of immediate gratification, millennials demand an engaging, emotion-driven shopping experience and express impatience with anything less. Millennials shop not so much to obtain a specific product but because the multi-sensory experience of shopping itself has become an appealing attraction. Only by providing such an experience can brick-and-mortar retailers prevent these customers from shopping elsewhere or merely turning to the internet.

fitting rooms need fragrance to meet millennials’ high expectations

Just as “store-induced enjoyment influences the amount of time spent in the space,” Vermaak and de Clerk assert that a positive dressing room experience encourages customers to linger and become comfortable in the clothes they are sampling. Retailers want customers to feel satisfied, engaged, and excited about their products while in the dressing room, but this requires the multisensory attention millennials expect.

Many retailers attempt to create an immersive fitting room environment by using music to create audial privacy for the customer. Lighting, décor, and creative accents can also help ensure that a dressing room feels fun, reflects the brand, and compliments the product. But smell, our sense most likely to register as an emotional response, remains largely neglected.

A recent paper published in the Journal of Retailing demonstrated scent to be the only sense that positively impacts arousal, pleasure, and satisfaction among customers. This emotional impact is hard to overstate – by stimulating positive feelings in customers, fragrance strongly influences all steps of the retail experience, from selection through evaluation and on to the decision of whether to revisit a store. And within the fitting room, where customers depend most strongly on ‘gut feelings’ to determine a purchase, pleasurable aromas reinforce that the store cares about its customers and that the product itself is pleasing. Conversely, the presence of dressing room malodors causes customers to feel both neglected by the store and displeased with the product.

optimizing the dressing room experience through scent

Fragrance is key in determining whether a dressing room exceeds expectations, just as dressing rooms play a vital but overlooked role in the retail experience. Of course, scenting is not a ‘one size fits all’ equation, and when you’re determining how to craft your dressing room experience for a millennial audience, you should take the time to carefully choose fragrances that achieve a particular affect. Specific scents may be employed to help relax customers, to encourage feelings of craving and boost sales, to reflect the energy of a product line, or even to assert a sense of luxury. And your customers will take notice of a carefully constructed scent. Dressing rooms scented with Prolitec’s cutting-edge AirQ scenting devices have already garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback, with customers commenting on the fragrances excitedly, and occasionally asking whether they were available for purchase.

Prolitec understands the importance of scented fitting rooms in fostering millennial loyalty to physical retail stores. Computer-controlled AirQ technology precisely delivers specific aromas crafted with an immersive, emotionally-connected retail experience in mind. These industry innovations keep dressing rooms breathable, safe, and residue-free while also ensuring that customers are experiencing complex, pleasurable scenting the way it should be experienced – with top, middle, and base notes all at once.

So now ask yourself: when a customer enters one of your fitting rooms, what should they experience? Work with Prolitec to transform your dressing rooms with an elevated sensory experience that both you and your customers will love.