How Luxury Hotels and Spas See Towels

How Luxury Hotels and Spas See Towels | by AJ Durtschi

Let’s face it; we’re all consumers. What drives us, as consumers, to make the choices we do? What causes us to like one bath towel over another?

According to Martin Lindstrom, author of Buy-ology, the reason we are drawn to a particular brand of clothing, a certain make of car, or a particular type of shampoo, cologne, or even bath towel lies somewhere in the brain in our subconscious thoughts, feelings, and desires. This is what is driving our buying decisions each and every day of our lives.

Rational? Hardly.

Was your buying decision rational? It may have seemed that way to you as you made your choice, but according to Lindstrom, it wasn’t, not by a long shot. Most consumers think about their choice for all of two seconds.

Take bottled water for example. There are dozens of varieties of glistening bottles, both glass and plastic, and in all kinds of shapes and sizes, too. Imagine now a rational conversation that might take place inside your head as you decide which bottle of water you should buy:

Dasani… no that’s the one Coke makes… someone told me it was nothing more than tap water with a phony name… I don’t want my bottled water to be “commercial,” it should be special, chic… wait, what’s this? Iskilde. By far the most beautiful bottle on the shelf. From Denmark… No idea what Iskilde means, but isn’t Denmark a land of snow and streams and healthy people on ski slopes? Even the lettering on the bottle is clear-blue, like Scandinavian eyes… The bottle is so clean and simple and icy-looking — like the water from a Danish mountain stream… Iskilde: it’s almost like a Danish guy saying, “It’s Cold.” It’s expensive, too, which probably means it’s special…

And so Iskilde goes into your cart. You’ve never tasted the stuff, but your gut tells you you’ve made the right decision, you’d probably shrug and reply that it was instinct. But the real rationale behind your choices was in fact built on a lifetime of associations — some positive, others negative — that you weren’t consciously aware of. Because when we make decisions about what to buy, our brain summons and scans incredible amounts of memories, facts, and emotions and squeezes them into a rapid response that allows you to travel from A to Z in seconds, and that dictates what you just put inside your shopping cart.

A study by Gruppe Nymphenberg, a German brand and retail expert, found that over 50 percent of all purchasing decisions by shoppers are made spontaneously — and therefore subconsciously — at the point of sale.

These are referred to as brain shortcuts, or more technically, a somatic markera kind of bookmark in our brains sown by past experiences of reward and punishment. These markers serve to connect an experience or emotion with a specific, required reaction. By instantaneously helping us narrow down the possibilities available in a situation, they shepherd us toward a decision that we know will yield the best outcome.

These same cognitive shortcuts are what underlie most of are buying decisions including which towels our best for our business.

It comes down to our brains, and it’s called Sensory Branding.

The conclusions as to how we buy according to Martin Lindstrom in Buy-ology:

  1. We are equally seduced by the sight of a product as by its scent. When a pleasant fragrance matches up with an equally appealing and congruous visual image, we not only conceive it as more pleasant, we’re also more likely to remember it.
  2. The feel of a product plays a significant role in whether we decide to buy it.
  3. Color gets our juices going. Researchers found that colored ads hold customers’ attention for two seconds or more, whereas black-and-white images hold our interest for less than one second — an important factor to consider when most products have only one-twentieth of a second to grab our attention before we move on.
  4. Sound triggers strong associations and emotions and can exert a powerful influence on our behavior.

Thanks to neuromarketing, we now know the extent to which the senses are intertwined; that fragrance can make us see, sound can make us smack our lips and sight can help us imagine sound, taste, and touch.

How does this impact how luxury hotels and spas purchase and use towels?

Imagine your guests are spending the night at your luxury hotel or relaxing in your spa, you’ll want to make sure you create and influence their brains with your sensory branding.

  1. Are the towels plush, luxurious, and soft to the touch?
  2. Did they smell fresh?
  3. We’re they presented well?
  4. Is your logo embroidered to the towel to create an appealing look to the eye?
  5. Did the background music create a richness to the experience?
  6. What other touches could make the experience memorable? I.e., chocolates, flowers, presentation, etc.

Remember it’s not just about the quality of the towel, though that is important, it’s also about the sensory experience.

Let us help you.