Scent in Business

I have talked about home scents and the positive ways it can affect you, but it’s not only in your home that this happen’s, shops, restaurants, hotels even banks are catching on to the fact that the importance of scents does not only apply to the home interior market. Scent makes it easier to build authentic, emotional connections with customers, as humans are most receptive when all 5 senses are active. Most businesses only use sight and sound to communicate with customers. Ambient scent uses fragrance to enhance the experience of consumers. Scent branding is unique to each company’s identity. Researchers around the globe have conducted field studies on the effects of ambient scent and there is much research on emotion and scent marketing. The research clearly shows scent has the power to affect our emotional state. But what does that mean in the context of a business?

In the wake of the Ecommerce boom, customer expectations have changed and customers seek unique (emotional) experiences. The Harvard Business Review found that emotionally connected customers are 52% more valuable to a brand than those who are just satisfied. According to branding expert and author Martin Lindstrom, of all the senses, smell is the most persuasive.

When it comes to the retail sector, scents can play a major role in affecting consumers’ purchasing habits and determining whether their in-store experience is one that will be repeated or not. Although some retail store owners will argue that they like to concentrate on visual elements, ambient scenting offers a number of proven benefits to retailers. Customers browse longer in stores where pleasant fragrances are diffused, increasing the chances of a purchase. Also, when offering an inviting environment the shopping experience becomes memorable and the shopper’s perspective of the store is affected positively.

In more recent years, companies have begun to recognize the power of scent. Fashion companies have learned to capitalize on how a particular scent can help customers form an emotional attachment to their brand. And it’s become a common strategy for big companies to take full advantage of sensory design by scenting their spaces with aromas that represent their brand and appeal directly to their target market. Abercrombie & Fitch has their own men’s fragrances, Fierce, which is scented throughout the stores as a way to support the company’s character, giving off what they would describe as a confidence, bold and masculine lifestyle.

Eric Spangenberg, a consumer psychologist and academic found that once feminine scents like vanilla were released, women’s sales doubled. Similar were the effects on men when more masculine smells were released. According to Spangenberg, “Men don’t like to stick around when it smells feminine, and women don’t linger in a store if it smells masculine.”

Switching the scents during the day can also change the mood, in the morning using invigorating scents like citrus and peppermint scents give a different energy to a space. By changing to a calming scent, later in the day or evening the energy will alter too. The company, At-Aroma, which specializes in scent, uses the elements of essential oils to develop its fragrances, in particular its Supplement Air series. Blends like For Wake Up (with peppermint and lemon) and For Meditation (with cypress and eucalyptus) are intended to aid the mind and body in particular activities.

Certain essential oils like eucalyptus and tea tree are also valued for their antiviral properties. However, while some manufacturers have noted growing demand for essential oils amidst the coronavirus pandemic, industry experts warn that it’s impossible to make any claims about essential oils’ efficacy against COVID-19.  However, when I worked for a company selling essential oils, we always sprayed a blend of eucalyptus and tea tree during the flu scents in our shops and it did appear to stop the staff members getting colds and flu as frequently. With global attention on health and sanitation, many businesses are enhancing their cleaning practices with fresh room fragrances to meet higher customer expectations of cleanliness. I feel this will be an area of major growth in the coming years. People don’t always look for the signs of clean, they often smell for them, I know I do.

Scents are such an important part of a consumer’s experience that there are firms which specialize specifically in scent marketing. Scent Air has helped industry worldwide to create powerful customer experiences using fragrance for 20 years, by offering a science-backed approach to custom fragrances (scent branding) and to scenting spaces.  They use a wide selection of scent machines and systems to diffuse non-toxic fragrance that has proofed to be successful.

Consumers are craving rich experiences and emotional connections from the businesses they use. In fact, businesses that deliver exceptional experiences can grow twice as fast.  It’s not just shops, restaurants and hotels can create a feel of cosiness, luxury and even exhilaration through scent. Researchers tested the ability of ambient scent to create a positive first impression in a hotel. The results found that a fragrance matching a hotel’s brand identity generates a more favourable view from guests including higher perceptions of comfort cleanliness and even food tasting better.

So, I feel that we will be finding more and more businesses in particular post-covid looking to ambient scent to offer their customers that little extra. Particularly when people get their sense of smell back!

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