“A modern man registers a hundred times more sensory impressions than an eighteenth-century artist”
― Fernand Léger
Think about the most memorable experience you’ve had and replay in your mind what happened. What did you see? What were you hearing? Did you smell a distinct aroma? Did you taste or touch anything? Now, think about which of your five senses was dominantly active? If we take away that dominant sense, do you think that experience would still be your most memorable one?
Every experience in life involves our senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Some experiences involve 2 or 3 of your senses and some 4 or all of the 5 senses. Regardless of which sense you dominantly use, our senses enhance the experience and triggers emotions that get attached to each experience.
Unless you have a photographic memory, only bits of pieces of each experience are stored in your memory. Most memories are incomplete and experiences that have high emotional significance are more likely to be store in your memory and can be recalled vividly. When your senses are greatly stimulated, strong emotions are triggered.
Have you ever noticed that we are inclined to reminisce negative experiences at the end of the day despite having a good one overall?
Why is this so? There is a psychological phenomenon wherein humans are more inclined to recall negative or unpleasant memories than positive ones. This phenomenon is called “Negativity bias”.
In 2001, psychologists Roy F. Baumister, Ellen Bratslavsky, Kathleen Vohs, and Catrin Finkenauer, conducted a research on “Negativity bias” and published an article “Bad Is Stronger Than Good” that can be found in the Review of General Psychology. Their findings reveal that negative or unpleasant experiences have a greater impact on people than neutral or positive experiences. In the same year, Rozin and Royzman published a paper entitled, “Negativity Bias, Negativity Dominance, and Contagion”. Their findings were almost exactly the same.
Some researchers analyzed language and how it relates to “Negativity bias”. They revealed that, “There are more emotional words in the human dictionary that are negative”. One study found out that, “62% of the emotional words were negative and 32% were positive. The English language has 74% of the total words describing personality traits that are negative.” Another revelation was there are more “stronger” negative words than positive.
Even in print or media news, people are more inclined to read or watch events that trigger negative emotions than positive emotions. How about social media? Have you noticed that there are more tweets or posts that talk about negative experiences, thoughts, or discussions?
What has been established so far?
- Each experience involves some, if not all, of the five senses.
- Strong stimulation of our senses triggers strong emotions.
- Each experience has an emotion attached to it.
- Negative experiences have a greater impact than positive experiences.
Every customer visit to your store is different. Each visit is a new experience. Whenever they visit your store, what do they see? What do they hear? What do they smell? What can they touch? If you are offering food or beverage, what do they taste?
Companies have been continuously studying and researching how the five senses work and how they can exploit this to enhance customer experience positively, avoid the negative experiences, and increase revenue. Different techniques and methods have been used in advertisements and gimmicks to achieve desired results.
Most customer satisfaction surveys do not specifically gather information related to what the customers see, hear, smell, taste, and/or touch, and how it impacts their experience. It’s such a waste of essential information and opportunity to analyze.
At RetailWise USA, we understand and realize the significant opportunities companies can take advantage of by exploiting the five senses to positively enhance customer experience to reach the true potential of their business. ExitShopping® can be custom formed and is equipped in gathering such information from customers and experienced in analyzing such data. We can help you avoid the “Negativity bias” of your customers.