The Nose Knows

Scent Marketing

What’s that smell? Your nose picks up the scent, and your brain identifies it. But the processing doesn’t stop there. A scent is on a direct path to the left side of the human brain, where emotions and memories are stored. As a result, marketers are using scent to affect human cognition and behavior.

A person’s sensory experience with a scent can leave a lasting impression. What do you remember most about when you bought a new car? Was it that wonderful new car smell? Scientific studies have established that people are many times more likely to remember something they smell than what they experience through other senses. According to a Rockefeller University study, the reminiscent power of our senses varies. Smell was determined to be remembered 35% of the time as compared to taste at 15%, sight at 5%, hearing at 2%, and touch at 1%. Smell is the most emotive scent.

Savvy businesses, then, want to harness the power of smell to connect customers to their brand. They attempt to build connections with customers on sensory and emotional level. Hotels reinforce their brands by permeating their lobbies with signature scents.

fresh cookiesThe concept of using the sense of smell to connect with customers is nothing new. Realtors have long-baked cookies in houses up for sale. That scent provides a sense of comfort and being homey. Why not apply that general idea to other venues? The smell of coffee could entice people to enter a coffee shop for example.

Aromatic coffee and coffee beansScent marketing creates a mood for a facility, whether large or small. The mood can extend to employees as well as customers. Scientific studies have shown that pleasing aromas can reduce stress and increase productivity and morale. Pleasing smells can not only stimulate employees, but they can increase in store dwell time for customers. Longer in-store dwell times are likely to boost sales, and a growing number of retailers are using scent marketing in their stores with good results.

ambient scentsScent marketing is a science; it has led to use of the term “ambient scenting.” This process is the introduction of a pleasing scent with the goal of enhancing a customer’s experience. Via ambient scenting, a scent is automatically diffused and maintained throughout a designated area. Business scent machines may be purchased which can either operate independently or be connected to the business’ air conditioning system.

Those who utilize ambient scenting must be aware of two concerns. First, there can be too much of a good thing. The intensity of the scent has to be controlled. An overpowering smell will drive people away and reduce in store dwell time.

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A second issue is what scent to use. Influencing that decision is what effect a specific smell will have on a consumer. For example, a gourmand scent such as chocolate or coffee creates a homey and cozy environment. This atmosphere is conducive to spending time in a coffee shop or café. An ozonic scent is airy and fresh and is often used in small gift shops. An untold number of scents are available; however, the goal is not simply to have a pleasing smell, but one which also stimulates the desired response.

The genius of scent marketing is that is a strategy which consumers cannot avoid. They might not listen to Christmas music the store pipes over head because they can be on their phones. Customers won’t necessarily see a display if they are distracted by a conversation with a friend or with texting. But, no matter what, customers must breathe. When their brains process that scent, their attention may be captured, emotions can be invoked, and decisions can be influenced.

Scent marketing is being utilized by businesses aiming to achieve the sweet smell of commercial success. Since scents affect emotions and influence behavior, ambient scenting can be harnessed to create a desired impact on customers such as increasing in store dwell time. Everyone needs to stop and take a breath, literally, to consider how scents can be used to influence behavior in the marketplace.