What’s in a Scent? How about Happy Shoppers?

Think about the last time you strolled into a store. Do you recall the scent wafting through the air? You might not remember that detail, but you may have walked back out with more merchandise than you intended to buy, simply because the store owner was using an effective marketing strategy: ambient scenting.

Scientific studies have proven that people who are in an inviting retail space and smell an appealing scent (such as cinnamon or vanilla), they spend more time in that place. They also spend more money, and that’s great news for your cash register.

Scientists and researchers are learning more each day about how people’s emotions and behaviors are impacted by scents. In 2004, American scientists Richard Axel and Linda Buck won the Nobel Prize for their studies on the sense of smell in humans, and how scents are processed by us on a molecular level. They concluded that our ability to smell impacts our quality of life.

Simple Wins the Day

Not just any ambient scent will nudge customers to feel happier and buy more, however. Simple aromas are more successful at subtly promoting spending than are complex scents. A 2012 study conducted by both Washington State University and the University of St. Gallen (in Switzerland) analyzed the behavior of 400 shoppers of a home-decorations store over an 18-day period. Customers were unknowingly subjected to one of three ambient olfactory scenarios: no scent, a simple scent (orange), and a complex scent (a blend of orange, basil and green tea). Scientists then kept records of the shopping habits of those people.

According to the study published in the Journal of Retailing, simple scents in the air made shoppers feel good, but complex, perhaps pungent-perceived scents were more distracting. The shoppers who smelled the simple orange scent spent on average about 20% more than those who breathed in the more complex scent or no scent at all. This is a helpful study for retail store owners searching for ways to inspire customers to buy more.

Scents, Emotions and Spending

We know scents bring about subconscious, emotional responses, and we tend to buy with our heart instead of our head. Shopping is what makes many people feel happy – it’s our “retail therapy.” Tapping into those emotions through ambient scent can encourage people to feel more positive toward your retail space and the quality of items in that space.

One ambient scent study centered around spatial perceptions – how customers perceived the space around them in a store or business depending upon the type of ambient scent in that environment. The study, called “The Cool Scent of Power: Effects of Ambient Scent on Consumer Preferences and Choice Behavior,” is detailed in the Journal of Marketing, a scholarly journal of peer-reviewed market research published by the American Marketing Association.

Researchers recorded the results of both laboratory and store-based experiments, and concluded that when people are in an environment diffused with what are considered “warm scents” like cinnamon or vanilla, they spend more money than when they’re in environments with “cool scents” like peppermint.

Interestingly, this study also found that “warm ambient scents” result in people perceiving that the space around them is more crowded. This feeling of a more “socially dense” atmosphere makes people want to buy more products. People tend to feel less powerful in a crowd, and they want to reclaim that sense of power by purchasing items.

Which Scent is Perfect for your Business?

Through studies like these, researchers are better able to categorize scents based on how they may trigger emotions such as invigorated, nostalgic, romantic, relaxed or confident.

For instance, citrus, basil, lavender and cinnamon scents are relaxing scents, while rosemary, thyme and peppermint are invigorating. A rose scent aligns with happiness and positive emotions, while cardamom, licorice, chocolate and ginger bring up romantic emotions. Fruit scents bring a happy, summer-like feeling, and cotton and linen scents help shoppers envision cleanliness and springtime. Leather evokes a sense of opulence, helping a consumer identify with buying an item of luxury, while wood conjures up thoughts of the earth and solid values in products.

Business owners can also harness the power of ambient scents to create the sensation of a larger store space – or a more cozy one. Light, breezy scents like green apple, citrus or cucumber can help your space feel bigger, while woodsy, sweet or spicy scents can make a space feel smaller and more intimate.

Ambient scent knowledge and research are powerful tools to help business owners tailor their own scent marketing strategy to meet their own specific needs, and to create a more comfortable, productive shopping experience. The specific scent – warm or cool, simple or complex, lively or calming – that you diffuse into your business space can inspire your customers to feel happier and more positive.

Rely on the expertise of SCENT::LINQ, to help you find the perfect scent to appeal to your customers’ emotions and leave them with an engaging first impression of your business and its products, resulting in higher sales. All of our formulations meet and exceed regulatory requirements (Specially EU and USA) and fragrance safety.

SCENT::LINQ is one of the leading scenting companies in the world with top-quality scent designs, expertly providing full-service scent solutions for you. Contact us to start your scent marketing journey, making that real connection and optimizing the perfect scent to enhance your indoor spaces.

Find out how we can help your brand...

With customers now increasingly aware of their brand choices, hotel brands must also adopt a good mix of in-house strategies.Discover how we can help you to create emotional connection through scents that can make a big impact on your business and your brand. Talk to us