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The power of scent marketing: the science and the potential behind it!

Scent can attract new customers, increase sales, heighten value perception, and expand brand recognition and customer satisfaction.

In the world of marketing, businesses have essentially made use of every sensory avenue they could think of, from sight to sound to touch, to convince customers to buy their product or to create a positive brand image. One of the less travelled avenues that are gathering traffic today is the olfactory kind, and retailers all over the world are trying to find that perfect smell of success to boost their sales. However, the business of scent marketing is much more complex than that.

We interact with the world around us using only our five senses. Truly remarkable experiences include all of them: sight, sound, touch, taste and even smell. Our sense of smell is the strongest way to add more to the customer experience.

Smell is a chemical sense tied to the emotional center of the brain (Limbic system). This limbic system is involved in: fear, anger and other activities like sex and eating. It also plays a big part in: memories and the type of emotional response an event evokes. The limbic system combines higher mental functions and primitive emotion into one system.

Scent is the most powerful way to connect on emotional and memorable levels with your customers. Smells feed the conscious and the unconscious mind: Smell is the most intimate of the senses and the most difficult to describe. Fragrance comes first: Even before a new born can see its mother clearly, it can determine love, warmth through the intimate smell of its mother. Odors touch the most primal of senses and conduct their messages directly to the brain.

The benefits to using scent in marketing:


Scents can help boost sales

We’ve already discussed some of the benefits; it can trigger instant emotional reactions from customers. Scent marketing can thus be very effective in boosting sales. A study done by Nike discovered that they could increase the intent to purchase by 80% through the introduction of scent into their stores. Another survey at a petrol station with a mini-mart reported that the aroma of coffee helped boost sales of the beverage by a whopping 300%.


Scents make customers linger

Scents can also help customers linger in a store and look around more. Eric Spangenberg, the dean of the College of Business at Washington State University, was the first to look for scientific evidence of this in 1996 through a lab study in Pullman. He found subjects were more likely to look around and browse through products in the rooms that were scented, and reported more positive opinions and a tendency to wait longer in lines in the fake store than its unscented counterpart.


Scents help create brand image

Scents are helpful in making people remember you, or to create associations in their minds. This is why it can be useful it creating an all rounded brand image, such as the above Jimmy Choo example. Many hotels also use scents to make people associate them with good memories, such as the Westin Hotels’ use of a blend of green tea, geranium and black cedar diffused into their lobbies, according to the New York Times’ Key Magazine. The scent you use will obviously go with the image you want for your brand, whether it is luxury, comfort, quaint and old-fashioned or modern and contemporary.


Scents create a perception of quality

In general scents can also help create a perception of quality. Customers tend to perceive a scented product or space as being of better quality and will be willing to pay more when shopping in a scented store, as discovered by a study done by the Smell & Taste Research Foundation. Many of the subjects in the study reported that they were willing to pay 10$ more for Nike sneakers placed in scented rooms, than those placed in an unscented one.


The downside to using scents for marketing

On the other hand, scenting a space can also go horribly wrong. Using scent is much more tricky and complex than using music or visuals. A Wal-Mart in north Spokane had to be evacuated and one person even ended up in the hospital when an “unidentified odour” wafted out of the bathrooms and gave many shoppers headaches and dry mouth. Smells have the potential of creating unanticipated allergies in certain people, and in lesser degrees can cause people to simply leave a space, something unlikely to happen with, say, a bad song.


Scents can be highly subjective

The kind of smell you use plays a huge role in the success of your campaign. Studies show that people are more likely to respond to what they expect. The smells of holiday spices or chocolate chip cookies work better than ordinary, generic smells during Christmas, for example. In another study he discovered that people are likely to spend 20% more in stores scented with simpler scents that they could instantly process rather than more complex smells.


.... and more!

Scent is used in almost all industries and across a large number of market segments. So, why don’t you explore its potential for your business now?

With our experts and

our methodology,

we can help you to:


 Elaborate your unique & personalized signature scent
Define the best solutions to play the fragrance
 Create your packaging(s)

Contact us to explore the potential of Scent Marketing for your business!

The primary structures within the limbic system include the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and cingulate gyrus. The amygdala is the emotion center of the brain, while the hippocampus plays an essential role in the formation of new memories about past experiences (source: boundless.com)

Do you wish to learn more about this scent marketing approach?