Sunday, January 11, 2015

Symbolism and Sales that Create Repeat Customers

Businesses create impressions through their servicescape, image, products, and music. An environment can be appealing because it creates an impression that taps into something within our culture and backgrounds that helps customers have positive experiences and feelings. Businesses will often use cultural context to create backgrounds and icons that make them stand out from their competitors.

Near Balboa Park in San Diego is a little gem of a business called Cafe Bassam that carries the charm of old England and colonial India. Antique hardwood, polished silver vases, seasoned bottles of wine and likely the largest selection of tea around. Tables are small and the atmosphere is hurried in an effort to create an authentic experience. Raw tea is out in the open to create the decor that this is a traditional tea shop.

Upon entering you will notice its popularity with trendy people of every background enjoying the experience. A few may be clicking on their laptops, another ruffling the New York Times with disdain, young lovers chatting over their upgrade from lattes to their new found interest in tea. Each has their own background but all are attracted to a place that has a similar cultural strain that appeals to all of their repeat customers.

Cafe Bassam covers a particular timepiece in history and carries with it an interesting piece of history. When businesses create atmospheres that have universal appeal within a dominant culture it will have appeal among a wider section of society. It is like a strain of cultural similarity that touches the customers impressions and images  that leads to a higher possibility of a positive impression.

Consider the very essence of culture as being a stream of conscious whereby each culture being unique by the way in which groups of people define their existence. These definitions come with natural images, symbols and artifacts that come to represent the culture but also how to interpret that culture. Businesses that use those artifacts that tap our collective understandings win big through customer loyalty.

Not all people will experience that cultural understanding the same way but will nevertheless feel an attachment to the display of cultural symbols in a cohesive environment. Associations with past memories, popular media, historical understandings and impressions will mix with their current experience to create the total satisfaction. In other words, the positive nature of an environment must match the positive experience in that environment to create successful customer experiences that influence future buying behavior.

There may still be some skeptics out there about symbolism and sales. Look at the picture above and notice the sailboat and the solid wood card index. The boat represents travel, sophistication, money, and education without our culture. The card index is of a romantic era connected with prosperity. Together one might generate an image of sophistication, wealth, opportunity, and expansion that was associated with the East India Company.

Perhaps you need a more concise example. You may have noticed that during the holidays malls spend a lot of money on Christmas displays and traditional bright colors. Holiday music plays in the background, a Santa is taking children's Christmas wishes, and the smell of cinnamon is everywhere. All of these artifacts and symbols create positive feels based upon years of previous positive experiences. This is one reason why we love the holidays.

Creating an environment that helps tap previously developed positive cultural experiences can help in generate stronger business. It is more likely that a business will create positive impressions if they are building off of previously symbols associated with positive feelings. The way in which the environment can bring together these difference symbols with the actual products and services the business offers will make a large difference in creating repeat customers. As you know repeat customers will not only come back more often but also buy more on each visit raising the per purchase value.

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