During unsure economic times and low sales, retail stores are reinventing their in-store-environment by going back to the basics; the sense of smell. It warns us of danger, evokes powerful memories of our childhood, and now it is helping consumers decide which purchases to make. Bakeries and auto dealerships have been enhancing the scent of their products for years, but what about the merchandise that does not have the potent fresh cookie or leather aroma? Managers have tapped into these olfactory cues to enhance the shopping experience of their customers to heighten capture ratings and bring sales back on track.
The concept of in-store-marketing with an ambient scent has led to an increasing number of producers of room sprays and diffuser systems. With prices to develop a scent ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, depending on how complicated the scent design is, it is clear that there is an ever-growing market for scent marketing. It is important for each company to have its own unique scent, as customers will come to associate a fragrance with the company. Research has indicated that customers in pleasantly scented stores rate the product higher and remain in the store longer thus increasing the chance of making a purchase. As the sense of smell is processed in the parts of brain responsible for emotion and metabolic functions (hunger, thirst, and temperature), it is clear that the scent of the environment has the ability to transform mood and actions.
Perhaps one of the most well-known ambient scents is Fierce by Abercrombie and Fitch that became part of the successful 2002 marketing campaign in order to target young, carefree clients. Whether Milan, New York, or London the in-store fragrance is identical therefore international consumers automatically associate the Fierce scent with the brand. Since the brand stands for a fusion of playful youth and natural sexiness, which are attributes every young adult wants to embody, consumers eagerly purchase the Abercrombie and Fitch fragrances.
Producers of consumer and professional electronics, Sony Corporation, started their scent marketing push in order attract more female customers. The company recognized a deficit in that segment of their cliental thus began defusing a mixture of orange, vanilla, with a dash of cedar wood. The managers were sure to publically emphasize that this is not a manipulation method but rather to enhance the experience of shoppers. Indeed research indicates that as long as the aroma is neutral or pleasant and has low intensity they indeed make the shopping experience more enjoyable, which is by no means negative.
Hotels are also catching on to this phenomenon to enhance the experience of their gusts by incorporating scent into their brand. Westin Hotels infuses their reception halls with a white tea aroma, which has a relaxing effect as many of their guests are highly stressed business people or visiting to relax in one of their high end resorts. Due to its positive response, the hotel took their scent marketing a step further by offering candles, oils, and even a room spray in their signature fragrance. On the other hand, Las Vegas hotel guests expect the exciting experience of the gambling, shopping, and dining. However, Mandalay Bay has begun scenting the 135,000 square foot casino in order to establish a more luxurious reputation as well as complete its tropical setting.
Essential in scent marketing is that companies know who their typical customer is, in order to add to his or her experience. Fragrance can easily overwhelm people, therefore much effort must be spent on the scent development and its distribution details. In order to be effective, the customer should not be aware of the fragrance when he or she walks into the environment but it should be part of the general atmosphere that makes the customer feel pleasant. The scent must fit to the brand in style and marketing message so that it is strategically integrated into the whole image.
Foto © flickr-User Matt Drobnik