The science of scent marketing

When asked about the key features of any popular retail brand, you might list the colour of its logo, its in-store experience, or the quality of its window displays. If we were to ask you about Starbucks, Greggs or McDonald’s, would you also describe the smell of the retail space?

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Shopper behaviour can be influenced within a physical retail environment with the combination of all visual, tactile and intangible elements. One sense that is used effectively to increase sales within certain retail outlets is that of smell, but how does scent marketing work?

Here’s the science bit

The sense of smell differs from our other senses. Smell is the first sense we use, and it is thought that this is why smell affects the part of the brain responsible for our emotions and memories. Smells can trigger memories more than taste, sight or touch.

Scientists have found that how we use smell is a throwback to our animal instincts of finding food and mates. We have now developed so that our visual and audio cues come together with our sense of smell to influence our thoughts and reactions.

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Retail companies can use potential customers’ happy memories and feelings to influence their buying patterns within their stores. According to Real Business, an ICM report reveals that almost 75 per cent of shoppers said they have been impulsively drawn to a store because of its smell.

How can you bring the ideal smell to your store?

If your retail outlet is not one that naturally provides aroma marketing through baking bread, hot coffee or perfumed bath bombs, there are other ways of introducing positive scents into the space. Experts in the field, such as, can assess a business and customer experience to provide scent combinations to entice higher sales.

The use of scent diffusers in store to provide smells that evoke happy memories and content feelings will encourage shoppers to remain in the shop for longer. In a good mood, a shopper may be willing to put more items in their basket. Teamed with other marketing elements, such as store layout, displays and music, this will provide a positive retail experience.

Happy customers mean repeat business. In today’s retail economy, it is worth taking a look at different approaches to keeping them shopping in store.