As consumers, you hardly think twice about what a store smells like or the way it makes us feel, think or do. Typically, it’s intentionally so subtle that it triggers a reaction without being overbearing. Research shows that in a scented environment you tend to evaluate products as being of higher quality. You subconsciously spend more time and money in scented shops more than unscented ones. According to scientist our sense of smell affects 75% of our emotions. By tapping into this sense brands are able to connect with consumers at a deeper emotional level.
Singapore airlines is a pioneer in scent marketing, they realised this three decades ago and was one of the first one to have a patented scent to spray into their hot towels. The floral and citrus fragrance became so popular that the airline gave it a name: Stefan Floridian Waters.
Starbucks has the scent of fresh coffee across all its stores. Abercrombie & Fitch and LUSH feature powerful (overpowering to some) scents in their stores. They have done so deliberately after doing market research amongst their target audience. There are lots of other brands like; Subway, McDonald, etc. which is using the power of smell to occupy a permanent space in your mind.
Hotels like the MontCalm in London, have taken scenting a step further, by launching a personal scent offering in each of their guest bedrooms. Guests are able to choose an aroma for their room from a ‘scent menu’, which includes Saw Grass, Lotus Flower and Marine Fresh.
In the west estate agents have been using this tactic for many years by encouraging vendors to fill their home with the scent of freshly baked bread or coffee in advance of property viewings, thereby creating a homely feel for potential buyers.
Scent marketing is one of the most powerful ways to build your brand, but remember that a consumer should associate ‘brand scent’ with pleasant and beautiful experience. Because when you first perceive a scent, you connect it to an event, person or object. When you smell the scent again, it often triggers a memory in the form of a conditioned response. I am sure each one of you can imagine the smell that we get when the first shower of rain hits the earth, smell of beach, fresh cut grass, hospital smell to name a few. And with all those smells you will also have the memories associated with it. Studies suggest that people recall smell with up to 64% accuracy after one year.
So if the scent doesn’t seem to match the context of the brand; consumers may turn away. In some cases you need to keep gender specific scent, e.g. in a woman clothing store feminine scents tends to create positive purchase intent. You can keep some basics in mind while talking about ‘brand scent’ like; fresh, crisp, citrus scents such as mandarin, work well in office environments and fitness centres, as they create an invigorating and energetic atmosphere. Whereas smells such as leather or woody ones, are bold and mature in nature and therefore work well in more sophisticated environments. Also popular are fruity fragrances, such as apple and pomegranate, as they create a youthful and uplifting vibe, befitting casinos and hotel lobbies.
Remember in today’s competitive business environment creating memorable experiences and emotional connections with consumers are critical to win consumer spending and long term brand loyalty. And scent marketing will play an important role in bridging it.