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Scent Marketing: Statistics, Olfactory Science, And The Industry

Each time that I get home from a busy day, especially if I’ve spent a lot of time on the road, the first thing I do is light a candle. One of my favorites is a sea salt driftwood candle called Calm. A few minutes after lighting it, I’m feeling pretty good and… I’m calm.

The Science of Scent

The science behind smell is fascinating. Humans can discern more than a trillion different odors. As we inhale, our noses collect the molecules and they dissolve on a thin membrane inside our nasal cavity. Small hairs (cilia) fire like nerves and send signals to our brain via the olfactory bulb. This impacts four different parts of our brain – impacting emotion, motivation, and memory.

Science Marketing Statistics

  • Olfaction, or the sense of smell, is believed to be our oldest, most-evolved sense.
  • The nose has 10 million smell receptors, composed of about 50 different smell receptor types.
  • Every 30 to 60 days, your scent cells renew.
  • You smell with your brain, not your nose.
  • Evidence for perfume dates to 4,000 years ago.
  • Androstenol is a pheromone and when it’s present in fresh sweat, women can be attracted. When it’s exposed to air, it oxidizes into androstenone and is unattractive (also known as body odor). 
  • The smell of pumpkin pie and lavender has been found to increase blood flow (down there) in men by up to 40%. 

Smells often stimulate emotions and spur memories before they’re even identified. They’re also potent triggers of negative emotions… with the extreme being people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Is Scent Marketing?

Scent Marketing is a type of sensory marketing targeted at the olfactory sense. Scent Marketing incorporates a company’s brand identity, marketing, target audience and develops an olfactory strategy that amplifies these values. This is often accomplished by infusing the scent into a retail establishment to influence the consumer’s behavior.

As with any sense, incorporating memories into the buying journey can stimulate engagement and drive the consumer or business to conversion. A peaceful, calming scent within a business meeting can keep people calmer. A scent that evokes a happy memory for a consumer can make a happier purchase experience.

Here’s a great explainer video from ScentAir, a leader in scent marketing, commercial diffusers, and the ambient scenting industry.

The Business of Scent Marketing

Which brings us to the scent marketing industry. Retail outlets are now investing in scent delivery systems that shape consumers’ moods and evoke emotions, driving purchases and customer loyalty. According to a Shopify article, scent marketing has grown into a billion-dollar business that spans multiple industries.

A study run by Nike showed that adding scents to their stores increased intent to purchase by 80 percent, while in another experiment at a petrol station with a mini-mart attached to it, pumping around the smell of coffee saw purchases of the drink increase by 300 percent.

The Smell of Commerce: How Companies Use Scents to Sell Their Products

And here’s a great infographic from FragranceX, How to Master Scent Marketing, including the benefits of scent marketing and types of scents and how consumers react.

Scent marketing (also known as aroma marketing, olfactory marketing or ambient scent marketing) is the practice of using a pleasant aroma to enhance a company’s brand image, improve customer experience and increase sales. Scent marketing can also increase customer foot traffic and influence how long customers spend in a store.

Leanna Serras, How to Master Scent Marketing
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Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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