10 Ways Scent Marketing Can Help Your Business

Thanks to the rising popularity of scent marketing, business never smelled better.


Marketer have long-known that music, lighting and botanical elements can create moods that encourage customers to stay longer, spend more and bond with the business.

But today, many companies are adding scent to their customer experience in order to establish an even stronger connection. They’re discovering that scent not only provides a more pleasant experience, but that it increases the bottom line as well.


Why Scent?

Chances are, you walked into a business this week where a scent triggered a memory or elicited an emotion. That’s because our sense of smell controls 70% of our emotions.

According to Ad Age, “Smells are more quickly and strongly associated with memories than visual or auditory cues because smell is the only sense directly connected to the brain’s limbic system, which houses emotions and memories, {say} scent experts.”

This is key because most purchases are made with our hearts rather than our heads.

A strategically-placed scent can not only tug at the heartstrings but can make the cash register ring as well.

Although scent marketing was first introduced to control unpleasant odors, businesses are using the technology today to disperse ambient scents that fill a space with a targeted smell; and for scent branding, which creates a signature scent for a brand’s identity.

If your business isn’t employing scent marketing yet here are 10 ways that scent can make sense for your business.


#1: Increase Sales

There’s no better reason to use scent marketing than that of increasing sales. Matching the right scent to a business’s marketing strategy can improve the perception of a product’s quality and encourage the customer to interact with the product longer.

For example, a United Kingdom based market research company study proved that retailers can increase sales by as much as 19% by using scents in their stores.

In another example, an appliance and electronics store reports an increase in sales of 33% by adding apple pie and sugar cookie scents to their sales floors.

If you need just one reason to add scent marketing to your customer experience, this is it.



#2: Affect Mood

When your customer walks through your doors, you want them to feel relaxed, happy and ready to do business.  Scent marketing can help with this.

One Florida hospital imaging center uses a vanilla scent to help curb claustrophobia and tension, which has led to a decrease in the number of people who need sedation and a 50% drop in cancellations.

Aroma Impressions has created two signature scents for a chain of gyms in order to overcome that unpleasant gym odor and to inspire health and well-being:

‘Lift’ is a tart, tangy, fun blend that energizes and evokes a feeling reminiscent of the healthy experience of eating a granny smith apple; and ‘Endurance’ combines eucalyptus and cucumber to help promote vitality and the perception of a healthy environment.


#3: Improve Perception

The first 15 seconds of a consumer’s shopping experience are critical.  The brief amount of time largely determines how the customer feels about their overall shopping experience.  Scent can set the tone for a long and productive customer experience – or make them turn around and head for the exit.


#4: Create Sensory Signature

Some businesses create a unique signature scent in order to increase brand loyalty.

One of the first to do this was 350-store clothes retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, which used their ‘Fierce’ scent to create a strong bond with their teenage male customers.

Benetton does the same now with a scent modeled after its ‘Verde’ cologne. And Westin Hotels ‘White Tea’ signature scent was chosen for its international appeal and ability to relax and energize customers.

Some stores even spray their signature scent into a gift box before wrapping, so that customers will be reminded of the store where their purchase was made.

Using a signature scent is just one more way marketers can distinguish their brand from the competition.


#5: Enlarge Space

You can also achieve illusions of more – or less- space with scent. For example, light scents such as green apple, cucumber, aloe vera or citrus can make a space feel more expansive while spicy, woodsy or sweet scents can have the opposite affect.

Scenting is much less expensive than adding square footage to your store or dividing space with new walls to make it cozier.


#6: Interior Improvement

If your store needs a facelift and your budget is limited, try scenting. It offers a more economical update than replacing permanent fixtures such as lighting or display cases.


#7: Mask odors

Scent marketing actually has its roots in masking unpleasant odors such as cigarette smoke (which used to be prevalent in bars and casinos) and the unsettling medicinal scents often found in doctors and dentists offices.

If your business produces an off-putting smell, scent marketing can not only mask the smell, but create a more pleasant experience for your customers.


#8:  Elongate Shopping Experience

Although one would think that a bookstore should smell like books, unfortunately that paper and ink smell does little for sales. Apparently, a chocolate scent does a better job at selling books.

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology details a Belgian project where researchers monitored customers in bookstores with and without a chocolate scent and found that when the scent was present customers were twice as likely to examine multiple items; twice as likely to ready synopses for multiple books; nearly three times as likely to interact with store staff; and less than half as likely to seek out one item and go directly to the register.

Perhaps bookstores should considering hiring a chocolatier rather than a barrista.


#9: Trigger memory

When a customer walks into a home furnishings store, you want them to feel at home. You want them to imagine that leather sofa in their living room. One way furniture stores do that is with familiar ‘home’ scents evoking the memory of fresh baked cookies or apple pie. It’s all about triggering a memory to evoke a response.


#10: Enhance learning

Scents can even make learning easier. If your company is holding an employee training session or a customer workshop, consider a blend of scents such as rosemary, sage and basal, which stimulate concentration and invigorate mental activity.

Takeaway: With $200 million in sales (2013 figures) and a predicted annual growth of 10%, scent marketing is coming of age.  However, many businesses have yet to take advantage of this new marketing touchpoint.  If your business could benefit from increased profits, stronger brand loyalty and customers who are more relaxed and happier, consider scent marketing.  It just makes sense.