Thursday, February 4, 2010

Using smells to increase impulse buys

Have you ever walked into a bakery with the plan of just getting a loaf of bread, but the delicious smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies makes you impulse buy a few? By using smells, a food retailer can get customers to make impulse purchases.

The smells of oven-baked bread, fresh ground coffee, warm cookies, and hot soups can evoke positive memories for a customer. The cookies may remind a customer of a Christmas party or the hot soups may remind the customer of a cold winter day at Grandma’s house. Whatever the memory, smell is an important part of marketing. According to the Sense of Smell Institute, people recall smells with a 65% accuracy after a year, but only have a 50% visual recall of photos after 3 months.

"Setting the Mood for Higher Sales" article

If you are a retailer who doesn’t have enticing smells naturally produced at your retail outlet, you may still want to invest some research in the idea of scent marketing. Stores like Sony Style and Bloomingdale’s are using scent marketing to set the mood for customers. Sony Style uses a combination of mandarin orange, vanilla, and cedar which are thought to entice women shoppers. Sony Style also uses this scent combination in every store to create a “Sony brand smell”. Bloomingdale’s uses a baby power scent in their baby department and a suntan lotion smell in the bathing suit department. Also, the ice cream parlor in the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando uses a waffle cone smell which is thought to have led to a recent 50% increase in sales.

How do these stores incorporate smells into their businesses without producing the actual item? Companies have been created that focus solely on developing your business’s signature scent. One firm, Scent Air (, has produced a technology called ScentWave that dispenses these signature smells.

Scent branding may sound like a fabulous marketing tool, but you must first experience the retail atmosphere in the eyes (or nose) of the customer. Don’t over do it. Customers will not be rushing to the cookie display if your scent brand of cookies smells like 10,000 cookies just dropped from the sky. Subtlety is the key. Customers need a friendly reminder smell, not a smack-in-the-face smell!

"Scent Branding: Smell of Success?" article

As a consumer, do you feel that you make impulse purchases because of positive smells? Has a smell ever led you to not purchase a product? As an agricultural entrepreneur, have you seen sales increase when a new smell (like fresh baked bread) fills your retail outlet? Will you think about developing a “scent brand” for your retail space or product?

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