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Multisensory experiences enhance sales and feeling of comfort in shops and restaurants

May 28, 2018

According to research, the combination of food, lighting, colours, furniture, table setting, atmosphere, sound and environment create a multisensory experience that has an effect on consumers' behaviour and general feeling of comfort. The preliminary results show that sounds of nature that were played in the fruit and vegetable section of a grocery shop had a clear impact on the shop's sales. The sales of fruit and vegetables showed an increase of 20% compared to the previous week and 13% compared to the week that followed.

A two-year project was conducted in Finland to find out how different factors such as presentation of the food, the built environment and characteristics of the space can influence customers' experiences and choices of foods in restaurants and grocery shops. The research combined methods from the fields of music research, food science, sociology, architecture and business economics. The project aimed at producing results that could be utilised for business purposes in the nutrition industry and in the planning of different food and eating environments.

The Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki (Uniarts Helsinki) was in charge of examining how music and environmental sounds could be used in supermarkets, fine dining restaurants and in a lunch restaurant.

"By determining the optimal sound design for a grocery shop, we were able to influence consumers' personal and social behaviour. We assessed the premises and the appliances together with the customers to see if there was something that was lacking or in need of improvement in terms of acoustic design", says researcher Heikki Uimonen, who was in charge of Uniarts Helsinki's contribution in the research consortium.

Researchers discovered that the volume of music and the acoustic features of the space, the multisensory experience involving the space and sounds, the interaction between the senses, and emotional experiences induced by music performances played a major role in the sound design for a restaurant. The research also showed that lunch time is largely defined by its social aspect, which can be either boosted or reduced by different features in the surroundings - such as music.

The research report, titled Ei ainoastaan leivästä - Ruoka, kokemus ja moniaistisuus (In English: It is not on Bread Alone - Food, Experience and Multisensoriality), was published on Monday, 5 March 2018. The report was based on the research done for a project titled Health Supporting Multisensory Food Environment. The project was a collaboration between Tampere University of Technology, University of Turku, Uniarts Helsinki's Sibelius Academy, and Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. The multi-disciplinary research was funded by TEKES/Business Finland.
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University of the Arts Helsinki

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