Marketing Intangible Wellness Services With The Five Senses: Lessons From Retail

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Many wellness businesses sell intangible, even invisible, programs and services. They may not produce visible results at all – meditation. Or the results may take a long time to appear – weight loss. So transforming those intangible wellness services into something tangible, that connects with your customer’s five senses, is an enormously powerful way to create memorable experiences.

Marketing Your Wellness Services to the Senses

Retailers have practiced the art of marketing to the five senses for years – and they’ve got some other tricks health and wellness businesses can also use:


Say your wellness center offers a multi-week healthy lifestyles program. Make sure you’ve got something tangible to give people as soon as they enroll – and every week thereafter.

Don’t just give them copies of your presentations. Give them stuff they have to interact with – maybe a worksheet where they list how many junk food ads they see in the next week, or a game where they guess how many calories popular restaurant appetizers have.


Brand your programs with music. Don’t confuse this with background music that plays in your health club or yoga studio.

For example, if you’re offering a hot-weather running program, kick off every meeting with fire-themed music – Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water”, the Pointer Sisters’ “Fire”, Dokken’s “Burning Like A Flame”, for example. (We bet participants will start bringing fire-themed music!)


Eating and drinking resonate at the most basic levels of human existence. If you sell foods or beverages, the one thing you should do is sample, sample, sample! Turn it into an experience. If your wellness center’s juice bar has three smoothies, offer a “flight” with mini samples of all three. Hold a “taste-off” between protein bars and invite folks to vote.


Retail and hospitality businesses commonly use ambient scenting to enhance the customer experience. For example, one large conference center uses ambient scent (a mixture of citrus and herbs) in meeting rooms to enhance productivity. The cost starts at around $100/month.

To be perfectly clear: I am NOT suggesting you should spray perfume in your wellness center, health club or clinic. Ambient scenting is not to be confused with heavy fragrances or room fresheners.

(And get rid of any smells that are unpleasant in any way. Fix the underlying problems. No rationalizations about ventilation, humidity, etc.)

Eye candy

Promote programs with props.

Say your wellness center has a back pain package that combines acupuncture, strength exercises, and stress reduction classes. In spring, target gardeners with back problems with an eye-catching display of the coolest gardening gadgets, borrowed from a local business. Better yet – invite some of your gardening customers to demo new items at a public session.

Running a weight loss program? Sequence several pairs of jeans in your front window, starting with a size 18, say, and dropping to a size 10.

If you sell bike accessories, show them ON a bike. And so on.


Position stuff for sale near people who are painfully aware of the need. Put cold water displays near thirsty people – probably near the cardio area in your health club or fitness center, not right next to your front door, right? Display gels and evaporative cooling neck bands near the gathering point for your bike store’s Saturday cycling trips.

Oversized displays

Are you holding a fishbowl drawing? Fishbowl’s just a figure of speech, y’all.

Find a HUGE container for entries, instead of a teeny little cardboard box or small glass bowl on the counter.

Promoting summer swimming lessons or weight loss programs? FILL your front window with beach balls. LOTS of them. Don’t just scatter two or three beach balls around. Then, connect it with an interactive experience to your program.


Create a call to action around your visual merchandising so that you create an interactive opportunity that connects it directly to the service or program you’re marketing.

For example, hold a drawing for a free membership in that summer swimming program we mentioned. The winner is the person that gets closest to guessing the actual number of balls in the window. Everyone else who makes a guess and enrolls in the program gets a smaller prize – maybe one of the balls!


Do you sell clothing? Don’t just stack it on a shelf or hang it on a rack.

Assemble an outfit – a top and bottom. Put it on a mannequin in a position that’s consistent with the way people actually use these garments. Or display it vertically for maximum visibility. Show it with appropriate accessories – heart rate monitors, a yoga mat or strap, whatever fits your business.

Change the display every 2 – 3 weeks. Refresh the displays daily so that sizes stay grouped properly. Refold items so that displays stay neat.


When you sell intangible services, look for ways to give customers something concrete – something they can actually touch.

Remember that hot-weather running program we mentioned above? Give everyone who signs up a small kitchen fire extinguisher.

Display apparel at a height that’s easy for customers to reach – they want to touch the merch!


Add floods, spots, and other fixtures to highlight windows, displays, posters, banners and anything else syou want people to notice.

Most wellness businesses have only overhead lighting. Many don’t light their display windows or front windows at all and just rely on “overflow” light from the rest of the business.

Additional lighting also adds ambience – even if it’s just a cheap uplight from Home Depot behind a ficus.

(And check daily for dead bulbs.)

Counter space

It’s gold. Don’t junk it up. Be choosy and put only your most important displays there


Rotate your displays frequently – otherwise folks quickly become numbed and don’t even see them anymore.