Podcast Episode 120: Jamie Bettencourt, SVP Mood Media | Using The Senses To Bring Stores To Life
Bob Phibbs interviewed Jamie Bettencourt with Mood Media as she shares how music and scent can help create the right mood in a brick and mortar store.
Tell me something good about retail
Jamie Bettencourt, SVP Mood Media: Using The Senses To Bring Stores To Life
• Scent triggers memories
• Music includes not just type but also lyrics
• Examine what the space being used to do
Jaime: I've always loved retail ever since I was in high school and college. I worked at several fashion brands and everything from Ann Taylor, Nine West, Bath & Body Works, GUESS. And just had an overall passion for retail, everything from the visual merchandising to, working with customers and all of that. And it's kind of funny how I ended up into the career I am today. And it just kind of all my passions collided whenever I started working at Mood Media.
Bob: My part-time job became my career. I mean, I look back now and I see all the ways that I became the retail doctor. So, what was your first job? And how does that inform your choices of what you do now?
Jaime: In college, I studied media communications and business, and then was kind of looking to get into a company that really could work with a lot of different brands around the world, and landed at a company called Muzak, at the time. And started in... Yes, I started in the marketing department and I just got to work on a lot of really interesting projects. And then eventually, they were acquired by a company called Mood Media and that's where I am today. So now I'm actually...yeah, so I've been with the company for about 18 years, it's been a lot of different iterations and a lot of different roles and things, but it's been a fun ride.
Bob: Well, I know you're a thought leader in the retail customer experience and I think you take a different tact than I do, I'm kind of more of the people guy and I think you're more the digital person, is that correct?
Jaime: At Mood Media, we're an in-store media solutions company and it's focused on the customer experience, and the sensory and media elements. So, everything from sight, sound, scent, social systems, all of those solutions that kind of create that ultimate customer experience, that's what we do. And that's what we're helping our customers create emotional connections between the brands and the customers.
Bob: That's interesting. There's a Wall Street Journal article, I think, today, talking about most of the music you hear in stores is not licensed, that would feel right into your wheelhouse, right?
Jaime: Absolutely. I just saw that. And, a lot of people don't realize, music is such an important part of the world today and there's B2C companies. So, there's companies, everybody uses music, whether that's Apple Music, or Spotify or Pandora, but then there's a very different approach when you look at a business music platform. Because you've gotta make sure that it's licensed, you've gotta make sure that the lyrics are right, you've gotta make sure it fits with the brand and that it's authentic. And that's really where we come into play as it relates to our music.
Bob: Can you give me an example of what an account had been doing before and what the challenge was. And then maybe some of the results from some of the solutions you have provided.
Jaime: Sure. I can kind of talk about kind of an interesting one, which is a company that was more of a product company and they looked to us to say, "How could we bring this product into a brick and mortar space and bring that to life?" And so we added, whether that's music elements, we added visual components, we have different sound systems, different fragrance that we put and all of that kind of bringing to life what they're trying to accomplish with their brand. And that's really what we do all day, every day, is we look at the brand, what are they trying to convey? How do they want their customers to feel when they walk into their store and their retail space? And helping them have those emotional connections. It's all about creating memories and being that place that you want people to come into. I mean, that's kind of what retail is, you want people to come in, remember you have a connection and to where they really fall in love with that brand, they come back repeatedly.
Bob: Well, you make a good point. I mean, I know a lot of brands have gone to signature fragrances, right? When you go into Western, it's that orchid smell or you go into certain boutiques and crafting what that smell is. Is scent really that popular? Is that a new thing that people are rediscovering? I mean, Walt Disney started it back in the 50's with pumping chocolate chip cookie smells out into Disneyland to make you think that they were being handmade in the little shop next door. But they've come a long way, right?
Jaime: Absolutely. I mean, fragrance and scent are fascinating to me because, it's something that triggers a memory from everybody. And retailers, it's funny, they love to talk about it and not a lot of people implement it. I think Western is a great example when you think about, not only when you walk in, you have that amazing fragrance, but you think of the Western because every single time you go somewhere in the world, they have that signature fragrance.
Bob: It's true.
Jaime: And they've then translated that into a retail space too whether, they're selling, whether they sell candles or they're selling that fragrance as well. So they've really turned that into, not only kind of a signature, media element, but they've also turned that into a retail strategy.
Bob: So who would you be working with? Because it's kind of an interesting idea. Would you be working with the marketing department? It's probably not your Store Ops people, it's got to be higher up. Where does this discussion start?
Jaime: Yes, we typically work with chief marketing officers, the marketing team, visual merchandising, anybody that's responsible for kind of that overarching branded experience, that's really the sweet spot for us, when we have that ear. Sometimes the CEOs get involved, sometimes they don't, it depends on how important the elements are. But we definitely focus on that marketing component. And that's kind of with everything that we do, whether that's the music strategy, whether that's the visual and think about the TV, and the digital signage strategies, all of that is derived from the marketing team. But then we also work with, different people, to implement that into the stores too. So we work with a lot of different people within the organization. But strategy is most important and content strategy and that, typically, is driven from the marketing resources.
Bob: Well, it's funny because people often think, "Oh, we'll just put digital displays in our stores and it'll be great." You're like, "You have to program that like a TV channel." And you have to really be thinking because, otherwise, you're distracting people from the environment. That's what I've noticed, when I've seen a couple of people who have done it poorly. They just hung down like a display and then there is a benders video playing, and it took my eyes away from the merchandise and, two months later, it was gone. And I wondered, did they really understand what had to happen in context of everything that goes on in that department? Right?
Jaime: Absolutely. I mean, content and the strategy around that will make or break your digital plan. We always say, don't do tech for we’ve just to do it, you've gotta have a strategy. And we always look at it in three different categories. Are you using that space, to inspire, to educate, to promote, is it to entertain? And really look at it from top down and then leveraging the assets that you've got, and then translating that and making sure that it's appropriate for in-store use. And you want it to be consistent so think about, your favorite retailers, what does it look like online? What does it look like in store? You've gotta have that consistent feel. And that's a lot of what we work with people is making sure that it does have that consistent feel and it makes sense, and that it's updated. That's just like what you said, programming it to make sure that the content is relevant but it's engaging, and it's not something that is...the same things playing over and over.
Bob: You're right, what do you see is like the three most common ways people do, physical retail wrong? What would be the three biggest ones that you see time and time again? And I need specifics here Jamie, not generalities.
Jamie: Okay. Well, I think the first thing would be, making sure that it's authentic to your brand. And that's kind of everything, if you try to be something that you're not.
Bob: I would love you to give me a specific time you walked into a store and the iPads were on every display and most of them couldn't find signal or something, or anything that you see that is a canary in the gold mine for you like, "Oh, that's really a big deal, right?" So, any of those, kind of stories that will illustrate, that would be very helpful.
Jaime: Just the other day, I went into a quick serve restaurant and they had multiple screens up that were meant to be entertainment, and they were blank on the wall, just black screens. That would be our number one thing, "If you're going have it up there, you better make sure that it's working, you better make sure that it's right, you better make sure that somebody is monitoring that." I think that's huge. Another thing is, and I think everyone's experienced this, when you walk into a retail space and the music is just wrong, like, "What is going on here?" , you hear a random song that doesn't make sense for what you're expecting in that space. , that's number one. It's funny just working in this business, every time I go into a store, I'm listening to the music, I am listening to the sound. Does it sound good or does it sound really bad? How are their speakers? What does it sound like? And, when I walk in and it's right, you just feel good. It makes the experience really pleasant. And sometimes you don't even really notice it because it's so right and so good. But you definitely notice it when it's wrong or when you hear some lyrics that don't make sense, that's definitely something that stands out to me.
Bob: I think that makes an awful lot of sense. I know that you had been at South by Southwest, and you had been talking about the future of physical retail. What kind of things do you think we're going to in the next five to 10 years?
Jaime: Right. Well, I think there's a couple different things. Everyone was talking for so long about the retail apocalypse and how everything's going sideways. And you look at some of these digitally native companies, they're all investing in brick and mortar. And what I love is that they're pushing traditional retail to evolve and they're having to embrace new ideas, embrace the storytelling and, kind of just making it more experiential versus transactional. I mean, the whole idea of right now is getting people to want to go into stores versus having to go into stores. And, I do think there's just some great evolution of making it more experiential. I mean, nobody's ever gonna take a picture of themselves and post it on Instagram as they're ordering something online. But they will do it if they are in store and there's something that's really cool going on, and there's an amazing display. I mean, you see that all the time and they're posting that on Instagram.
Bob: I'm sure all the cool kids are in Sears taking Instagram photos left and right because it's the cool place to go, right? No, I'm joshing, obviously. I had Becky Tyre on my podcast a few months ago and she talked about how if your display can't be Instagrammable, then you need to learn how to merchandise because it makes you focus down to what's really important. You can't just throw a bunch of stuff up there. And I thought that was really an interesting point. Anything else that you would add about merchandising in that?
Jaime: I think that is the point but making sure that it's authentic to your brand. , you don't wanna just throw something out there that doesn't make sense for your space, just because you wanna have something cool in your space. It's just that whole, notion of being authentic and making sure it's right. another interesting thing I think that we see a lot of, you asked me about trends is just the notion of data, what's happening with data? How are things evolving to where, retailers can have a more sophisticated and personalized approach with their customers? Some people are doing it really well and some people aren't doing it at all. How are you engaging with your most valuable customers and their brand advocates? How are you sharing that via social channels? How are you communicating? And, your most loyal customers, what are you collecting about them? That's going to help them make better decisions or help them learn about your products more. I mean, we've all been marketed to in the right ways and then also in the wrong ways. But, I think that whoever figures that out is really gonna be ahead of the game.
Bob: Yeah, I think you're right. I think data is the key. The trouble is, there's just so damn much of it. I was speaking to a head of VP of Pepsi, and they were talking about how they've done all these surveys, heat maps of stores and tracked people's purchases, and they were able to find out that the person who buys a pineapple is most likely the one to buy a calling card and a toothbrush. And she said, "So what are we supposed to do with that? Are we supposed to build toothbrush displays that have a calling card with pineapples? She said, "It's still gonna have a human element, right? To know, what do we do with this?" I think that's also the challenge, that we think that, "Oh, I'm just gonna go have all this data and it's magically gonna connect the dots and they will be able to do it." And sometimes that happens, kind of randomly, but most time, it's still gonna follow an intuition, I would think.
Jaime: Yes, absolutely. And everybody's different, so it's figuring out how to leverage that data and use it in the right way. And, however, we figured, whoever figures that out is absolutely gonna be moving in the right direction.
Bob: Yes, I would agree. What's been your biggest challenge in the past three years? And how you overcame it?
Jaime: For us, some of the biggest challenges have been seeing the shifting nature of brick-and-mortar competing with e-commerce and how do we help our clients stay ahead? How do we help them, evolve and just that whole experiential, element that we bring in, so it's making sure that they have the right content, the right music. And, there's a lot of people investing in flagship locations, and, that's where all the money is, but how do you then pull that through to all of your locations, especially, some of these ones that have thousands of locations? And, even hundreds of locations? How do you make sure that, all of your locations are getting that refresh, that are getting that element of surprise, and emotion and connection, not just a couple of those locations?
Bob: Yes. And so you would say that music would still form the most basic part of all of that, right?
Jaime: Absolutely music is at the core. What does it sounds like? What does it look like? And then we try to help make all the technology work on the back end, so our clients don't have to worry about that.
Bob: Great. What would be one thing that you can tell me, something great about retail, Jaime?
Jaime: I think we're in an interesting time where a lot is changing, and a lot is evolving. And, like I said before that the digitally native stores kind of pushing traditional retail to try new things and to be experiential, and just tell better stories. I think that's something that is really good and we're seeing a lot of good come from it. And the other thing too that a lot of retailers are focusing on, is focusing on their employees because that at the heart of it is a huge asset that brick-and-mortar has. And, allowing those brand ambassadors and their employees to be more knowledgeable, to have a connection with the brand, to really be an asset to a customer that's coming in to give them something more than they're going to get from just being online.
Bob: I would agree. How can listeners find out more about either you or your company?
Jaime: Sure. Well, you can you can research about us at moodmedia.com and, it's got all different types of things about our business. And, I'm available on LinkedIn and would love to, connect with anybody that has a passion for retail and business.