Black Friday – Sensory Solutions for Security Nightmare

27 November 2015

Black Friday competition is like any competitive sport. Your brain comes back to the basics of survival. The pain avoidance and pleasure chasing are becoming key goals.

Our brain is very well equipped to avoid any type of pain as well as to find ways in which to achieve pleasure. When you feel pleasure various neurotransmitters, like dopamine, release in your brain and you feel like you’re on drugs – that idyllic state of lack of problems and constant joy.

The trouble here is that you can kind of get addicted to that ‘idyllic state’. This will mean that you have to find yet new ways to achieve ‘the fix’.

So if you ever experienced that rush after getting an amazing deal during Black Friday, like many customers did last year, you will be even more vigilant and want to achieve even better results.

To accomplish that you need to show strength, resilience and willingness to fight. If you don’t, your competition will subconsciously pick up on it and use that weakness against you.

That unfortunate conditioning relationship between Black Friday sales and reward/pleasure can create ever increasing security issues for retailers during future Black Friday and Boxing Day sales.

What can be done about it?

Pleading to people’s common sense and cultured behaviour is definitely not an answer. You have to remember that your customers during the sales are acting based on primal instincts and emotions, none of which has anything to do with rational behaviour.

You need to therefore talk to their subconscious. To do that you need to use simple sensory cues which people are not able to process on a conscious cognitive level. These include certain visual cues, scent and music.

As sales are based on scarcity, even creating an illusion of abundance can calm down your shoppers. Since they don’t feel such urgency to purchase because of the perception of availability, they can start behaving in a more cultured way. Although, I realise this is counter intuitive to the whole idea of Black Friday and Boxing Day sales but nothing else works, this will be your last resort.

The better visual stimulus which can make people more civilised is light. Studies show that bright lights make people behave in a more socially desirable way. I mean here the socially prescribed rules of a good citizen which include being civilised and cultured in your shopping behaviour.

Certain scents are subconsciously associated with being calm and therefore will have such an effect on human behaviour. Therefore dispensing smells like lavender or jasmine can subconsciously influence shoppers to calm down and be more willing to wait their turn. Even if the effect will be marginal, it can mean a few less broken bones.

Music is yet another element which affects consumer behaviour on a completely subconscious level. Slow tempo, happy and harmonious melody as well as positive lyrics can improve customers’ behaviour and make it less of a security nightmare.

Floor can also have an impact on the speed of customers’ movements. This is based on the idea of embodied cognition where our brain takes cues from the reactions of our body to the environment and behaves accordingly. As soft floor is subconsciously associated with slowing down and relaxation, putting a temporary soft flooring can result in slower crowd movement and at the same time serve as buffer for any falls.

Although it is unlikely that UK retailers will remove Black Friday from the calendar of special sales, there are a few ways to decrease the level of customers’ incidents by applying the vast scientific evidence on the effect of sensory retail atmospherics on consumer behaviour.