Marketing experts say that consumers actually do follow their noses, which leads them to buy more. As companies try to stand out from the everyday advertising clutter, some are jumping on the “olfactory marketing” trend—using scent as a way to strengthen their brands and bring in more money.
Jennifer Dublino, vice president of development at ScentWorld Events, the industry’s trade group, says the scent-marketing industry grossed $200 million last year and is rising at 10 percent annually. The right scent has been shown to make people more comfortable (at hotels), shorten the time they think they are waiting (at banks) or improve their sense of performance (at the gym).
There’s Science Behind the Scents
Scent marketing is typically divided into two broad categories: first, ambient scenting that fills a space with a targeted smell; second, scent branding, which identifies a company’s signature scent for a particular brand.
This is not just marketing conjecture, since there is science behind all this. Pamela Dalton, an olfactory scientist and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, says that people sense smell first and send that information to the very primitive brain centers of emotion and memory. This works well for marketers since they’re always trying to connect emotionally with customers. According to Dalton, smell is developed before birth, so babies have been found to prefer fragrances that their mothers wore late in the pregnancy. She says businesses that expose pregnant women to their scent “are already grooming their customers before they are born.”
Small Businesses Using Scent Marketing
Plenty of small-business owners are using this technique. Michael Stajer, who owns five Roosters Men’s Grooming Centers in Northern California, uses scent marketing to help set the atmosphere of an authentic barbershop experience. The shops use a scent warmer to diffuse the smell of their Aveda aftershave cologne.
Brett Bastello at Dannecker & Associates, a real estate agency located in San Diego, says they have been using scent marketing for about three years. Thirty minutes prior to an open house or a meeting with a potential buyer, their agent will burn an ocean scented candle to evoke the full experience of living by the beach. For families and couples relocating to California, it’s been overwhelming positive.