More Retailers Investing in Scent Marketing

Merchants have long been accustomed to appealing to consumers’ sense of sight and sound with both traditional and digital advertising. In the past few years, more marketers have been seeking to increase sales through the sense of smell. The latest research shows that a growing number of retailers are paying to have nebulizer technology distributed through their stores in order to create specific aromas.

Many consumers have been swayed to make purchases after they smell fresh coffee brewing or cookies baking. But, these days, the aromas are often artificially generated. In a recent article, Christopher White wrote that between 10 and 20% of all U.S. retailers are using scent marketing.  While consumers may expect to encounter aromas during their grocery shopping excursions, other types of marketers are making scents work for them. For example, Nike reported that scent marketing had ‘increased intent to purchase by 80%.” And a convenience store which introduced the scent of fresh coffee into the air system boosted sales by as much as 300%. In other cases, retailers have found that cinnamon aroma used during the holiday season puts shoppers in a buying mood. Even health clubs and upscale hotels and resorts are using scent marketing.

Some naysayers have called the concept of scent marketing unethical, especially with respect to food sales. But industry experts point out that menu photos of specific dishes which bear little resemblance to what is actually served is no more unethical than scent marketing.  Rachel Herz, at the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, says that aroma marketing is another form of branding. These retailers are “effectively adding a scent logo to their establishment.”

Regardless of ethics, marketers are looking for tools that work and when it comes to aroma, consumers are making positive associations and spending more money.

[Source: White, Christopher. The Smell of Commerce. Independent​.co​.uk. 16 Aug. 2011. Web. 18 Jan. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.