The Science of Scent Marketing

Scent Marketing

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 behind smell is fascinating. Humans have about 50 different smell receptors that help us 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.

Here’s some interesting facts about fragrance:

  • Olfaction, or the sense of smell, is believed to be our oldest evolved sense.
  • 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 (aka: 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.
  • Smells are also potent triggers of negative emotions, such as people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

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  Tweet This!, 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

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

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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