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London boutique tries to hypnotise its customers into spending more money

posted 18 Feb 2011, 09:08 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 18 Feb 2011, 09:10 ]

As London Fashion Week begins, a London boutique is trying to hypnotise its customers into spending more money.

It's no secret that shops use many tricks to lure customers and get them to part with their cash. But few have tried to hypnotise shoppers - until now.

As London Fashion Week begins, fashion boutique Browns Focus are collaborating with jelly-makers and installation-creators Bompas & Parr to induce shoppers to buy more clothes.

Bompas & Parr have consulted scientists and hypnosis experts and say they are sure their month-long "Hypnotic Shop" project will touch shoppers' subconscious and increase sales.

The first sign of the project are two hypnotic pinwheels in the store's windows, says Sam Bompas.

"We wanted the Browns hypnotic shop to be a total sensory assault. Behind me you can see hynoptic pinwheels, and your vision will actually tunnel if you look into them for a couple of minutes," he told Reuters Television.

Bompas & Parr say the pinwheel encourages customers to come inside, while the colour scheme takes inspiration from the key trends for the spring / summer 2011 collections, of stripes and neon paired with white.

A note on the door lets shoppers know they're taking part in an experiment.

Inside, shoppers won't be able to see some of the tools Bompas & Parr are using, but they might be able to smell or hear them.

"If you go into the shop, we've impregnated all the cleaning products with micro-encapsulated vanilla, which actually increases sales of feminine products like dresses, by 100% and this is based on a study by Eric Spangenberg. And also we're playing subliminal messaging over the soundtrack and this is what's going to do the brute force of the work in terms of convincing people that they feel good about themselves and they want to buy," Bompas explained.

Played from speakers in store under the music, and piped out into the street, the subliminal messages say things such as: "You attain your fashion goals and look hotter than your friends. Let me repeat that again so it's perfectly clear."

Bompas & Parr say the subliminal messages encourage people to feel good about themselves and purchase specific products. The messages are based on the studies by Pratkanis, Eskenazi and Greenwald published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

They say research by Eric Spangenberg, a consumer psychologist at the College of Business and Economics at Washington State University has shown that when "feminine scents" like vanilla are used, sales of women's clothes can double.

Brown's other stores on the same London street will be used as controls.

After a month, Bompas & Parr will study the till receipts.

Rebecca Gaon, Head of Creative and Visuals at Browns says the Hypnotic Shop project is designed to attract attention during London Fashion Week.

"I imagine the staff who are exposed to everything all day, their spending habits might increase significantly, but also it's fun, I hope that people come in to get an experience of the installation and hopefully if it has a positive impact on their spending patterns, that would be fantastic," she told Reuters.

High-end boutiques have proved to be fairly recession proof, as designer brands continue to sell well.

This project will probably boost sales - but not for the reasons you'd imagine - says psychologist Tom Stewart from System Concepts.

"I think their results might well indicate an improvement in sales, but I wouldn't put it down to the subliminal advertising. I'd put it down to making both staff and customers feel good, and when they feel good, they give better customer service. The customer experience is largely about how you react with the staff, not about the physical design of the store," Stewart said.

Many British retailers are looking at ways to boost business, especially with an increase in the sales tax hitting trade in the UK. Psychologists may say subliminal adverts don't work - but Browns Focus is confident hoping hypnotherapy will encourage retail therapy.