CHICAGO -- Center Store, sometimes overlooked when it comes to methods of bringing a store business, may be on its way to attracting consumers through a new retailing concept that plays on people's emotions.
Retailers using the concept of "emotional retailing" are generating a minimum of 30% in additional sales, said Chris Ohlinger, president of Service Industry Research Systems, Highland Heights, Ky., speaking at the Food Marketing Institute convention here. He said the Center Store section is particularly effective for seasonal promotions.
"A lot of the retailers have come up with the seasonal approaches and they're really starting to do a wonderful job with the seasonal creativity that goes on in the Center Store," Ohlinger said.
In addition, when broken into sections -- a pet section, a baby section or a beverage section -- the middle aisles are more likely to be shopped.
For example, Ohlinger said, a supermarket operator in Louisville, Ky., hung styrofoam baby blocks and storks from the ceiling above its baby section.
He said this chain used the store-within-a-store concept in displaying its baby products. The decorations hung from the ceiling, supplemented by piped-in, localized music only heard in the baby aisle, gave the department a distinct feeling, he added.
Emotional retailing in pet sections draws people into stores as well, Ohlinger said. In one store, he said, a retailer exhibited a 650-gallon aquarium.
"It worked as far as just creating excitement or fun. Some people would say it's relaxing," Ohlinger said. "It was just something different that made the shopping trip more enjoyable."
Emotional retailing requires cooperation from manufacturers, Ohlinger said. Soft drink vendors, he added, probably do the best job in creating in-store excitement.
"It's so competitive. They've had to take one step beyond the traditional type of merchandising and create something exciting in the store for their own brand. "What's starting to happen now is retailers are saying to manufacturers, 'Gee, what are some ideas you guys can come up with?' " he said. "They're coming from the standpoint that manufacturers can help make the store a better place to shop."
The next step in Center Store will be to have a moving object such as an electronically controlled display at the end of each aisle, Ohlinger said.
"You'll see it in the next six months -- these moving displays at the end of every aisle. The reason you're not seeing it now is because none of the stores are fixtured for that type of effort," he said.
Ohlinger said emotional retailing is going to drive the sales and actions of leading-edge retailers, drive the growth of electronic retailing and provide traditional retailers with ways of battling threats to their existence.
According to a survey conducted by Ohlinger, almost one out of three shoppers picks where to shop based on emotional factors rather than rational ones, he said.
Shoppers are driven by several emotions, he said. Emotions of fun and excitement, relaxation and trust and safety are the primary driving forces.
The key to winning the emotional retailing game is not to try to satisfy all of a shopper's emotional needs, Ohlinger said.
"You just have to beat the competitor down the street," he said. "Establish a strong position in one of these three emotional elements: fun and excitement, stress reduction and concern for the welfare of the shopper's family. "Emotional retailing shouldn't replace what you're doing. It should be a part or an addition to what you're doing," he added.