Millions of shoppers routinely patronize the same retailers, even when several nearby companies are selling the same merchandise. Consumers are often willing to pay more to buy from companies that make them feel welcome and provide name-brand products they trust. In many cases, scent marketing is responsible for those warm, comfortable feelings.
Enterprises ranging from bakeries to car dealerships influence consumers by diffusing aromas into the air. Carefully chosen fragrances can alter peoples’ moods, encourage customers to remain in stores, and leave visitors with good impressions. Companies use the science of scent to associate their products with qualities like luxury and quality. Pleasant aromas are often related to positive buying experiences.
Scent Has a Powerful Effect on People
Using fragrance to increase business may be the brainchild of marketing agencies, but it is also solidly backed by science. Olfactory scientists say that when people smell, fragrances send information to primitive areas of the brain responsible for emotions and memory. That ties in well with marketing, which almost always targets customers emotionally. Scientists say that aroma’s influence on us is so powerful it begins before birth. Babies have been known to prefer the fragrances their mothers wore in advanced pregnancy.
With these facts in mind, companies often work with scent specialists like AromaTech, who offer a wide range of scent diffusers and essential oils. Commercial clients might opt to use diffusers for small areas or choose devices that can scent huge spaces. Businesses can change customers’ moods just by alternating a range of essential oils.
Companies Use a Variety of Scent Marketing Techniques
According to marketing experts at Packaging Strategies, there are four ways that businesses use scent to influence clients.
- Aroma Billboard: Many successful companies have linked their products to a bold, impossible-to-miss scent. This is known as a billboard aroma, and it is the same at every location. The fragrance saturates the surrounding areas. Cinnabon is an example of this. They saturate retail locations with a delicious scent that instantly evokes images of baked goods.
- Thematic: Some companies use a more subtle background smell that creates a theme. Fragrances tend to be generic, such as the cool, fresh scents of spas.
- Ambient Odors: Businesses might also diffuse fragrance into the air to cover up more unpleasant smells. These ambient odors are subtle, light, and pleasant. Stores and malls may add ambient scents to public restrooms.
- Signature Fragrances: Some of the world’s best-known stores have signature scents that identify them, no matter where they are located. When a customer gets a whiff of a signature scent, they immediately think of the store. Companies like Abercrombie and Fitch heavily scent all of their storefronts with a single, easily recognizable fragrance.
Pleasing Fragrances Increase Brand Recognition
Studies show that 63% of shoppers have selected one store over another because of a pleasant aroma. Customers respond positively to smells that bring back happy memories, associations, and experiences. A retail marketer writing for Shopify explains that gender-designed fragrances can be incredibly powerful. For instance, a women’s clothing store with a feminine scent can create a positive purchase intent.
Pleasant Aromas Cause Customers to Linger
Scents create powerful first impressions that reach customers at an emotional level and increase the likelihood they will stay in stores or showrooms. Research indicates that 82% of consumers spend more time in pleasantly scented places. The longer visitors linger, the more time they have to interact with products.
Participants in a Samsung study underestimated the length of time they spent shopping in a pleasantly scented venue by 26%. People who were exposed to fragrances also visited three times more sections.
Fragrance Creates Lasting Memories
According to recent studies, most people can connect an aroma to a specific memory with 65% accuracy within one year. That is why customers associate fragrances with brand images and recall brands whenever they get a whiff of the smell. Scents help create an experience with a brand, which subtly influences a shoppers’ view of the brand.
Fragrance can also alter customers’ perception of quality. As an example, some stores diffuse the scents of frankincense and cardamom through air vents, creating an atmosphere of opulence. Many beauty brands add fresh, clean scents that shoppers perceive as high-end.
Pleasing Aromas Lead to Better Customer Experiences
Many people look forward to shopping at specific stores without realizing exactly why. The answer is often environments that are deliberately designed to create happy experiences, and scent marketing typically plays a big part.
Starbucks is a good example. Customers love the smell of fresh coffee, and that is the scent that greets every Starbucks visitor. There are also businesses that diffuse the aromas of hot chocolate and baking cookies, which take many people back to their childhood. Car dealerships pay close attention to scent marketing because they know that many people associate the “new car smell” with positive experiences. Scents diffused at dealerships may not be enough to convince shoppers to buy cars, but they do draw consumers in and make test drives much more attractive.
Retailers Use Scent at Christmas
One of the most obvious ways businesses use aromas is to create a holiday feeling. In December, nearly every department, craft, and clothing store is scented with fresh, happy smells associated with Christmas. Even buyers who hate the idea of going into stores during that busy shopping season often enjoy the cheerful holiday environment. Retailers often combine decorations, scents, and music to produce an almost irresistible atmosphere.
The majority of businesses create that “Christmassy” smell by disbursing essential oils such as ginger, cinnamon, Scotch pine, and Fir Needle. In some cases, different departments include different scents. For example, nutmeg and cinnamon draw customers to baked goods, while frankincense and myrrh are more common in luxury gift areas.
Scent marketing is the practice of diffusing scents to help attract and keep customers. It works because humans’ sense of smell is linked to emotions and memories. Retailers can diffuse essential oils that create a welcoming environment, make clients want to stay, and help them associate brands with quality. Stores often link their names to specific scents, which helps create brand recognition.