Five Essentials for Scent Marketing in Your Retail Business

One of the growing trends in retail marketing is scenting commercial space, leveraging the power of aroma fragrances to create a subtle, yet lasting impression on shoppers.  But aroma marketing isn’t a ‘one-size fits-all’ solution for retailers. In order to achieve the desired results, be sure to follow proven strategies for success.


Here are five essential steps to achieving the full impact of scent marketing in your retail business.


Tip #1: Nose around your store. Literally.

Let your nose point you in the right direction.  Take time to walk around your retail environment from your customer’s vantage point.  What do you smell?  When you walk through the door?  In different sections of the store?  At your POS?

Retail stores frequently smell like cardboard, plastic, various chemicals or cleansing agents. Sometimes, the smell is just plain blah. Whatever it is, take note of it.  This becomes the contrasting backdrop for a successful scent strategy in your retail space.


Tip #2:  Think in terms of a scent “logo”.

The sense of smell is so strong shoppers are more likely to remember your store’s fragrance than they are your most recent social media post or email.  Think of scent as a logo diffused throughout your retail space.

Scent is most effective when it’s closely tied to your brand image — the same image conveyed through color scheme, architecture, aesthetics, and company culture.  Scent is a dimension of your total customer experience.


Tip #3: Select a fragrance that reinforces your brand.

Choose a fragrance (or scent combination) that aligns with your brand image.  For example, Westin Hotels use a white tea scent throughout its properties to reinforce an elegant brand experience.

Also consider the possibility of a Signature scent which can’t be experienced anywhere else — like Ambercrombie & Fitch’s unique fragrance called “Fierce” which is found only in their stores.  Be sure to purposefully select a fragrance based on brand alignment.


Tip #4:  Keep shoppers in the store longer.

Certain scents have been found to keep shoppers in stores for longer periods of time, which can leads to purchasing decisions and increased sales.  Nike found that adding scents to their stores increased intent to purchase by 80%.

Spicy fragrances cause male shoppers to linger longer, while vanilla does the same for women.  Floral fragrance have similar effects on both men and women.  Lavender, for example, is a relaxing fragrance that slows the perception of time, encouraging shoppers to linger longer.

Tip #5: Be subtle.  And consistent.

Many successful brands use scent without customers consciously noticing it. In fact, the customer’s experience should be subtle and pleasant, not overwhelming (unless you’re Ambercrombie & Fitch).

Make sure the dispersal system you employ releases the scent evenly and consistently throughout your retail space.  Be sure customers have the same scent experience across all retail locations.