Marketing Scents – How The Olfactory Buy Button Works

What is that elusive connection between effective scent marketing and the noses that live upon our faces? Why do we even have a nose, you might ask. While many experts may present highly educated and very significant answers, the nose knows what it knows and how it receives and interprets information is an entirely different question requiring a different response. Our noses process the air we breathe before it enters our lungs. Believe it or not, 18,000 to 20,000 liters of air pass through our noses every day of our lives, and our master ambient air-care specialists help businesses of all sorts harness this fragrant factor to their own advantage by augmenting their traffic and revenue.

Our Sense Of Smell Has Served Us Well In The Past

Throughout human history, our sense of smell has always been vital to our survival. It warns of encroaching predators and fire, and is inextricably linked to our taste for food and ability to identify and differentiate both pleasant and unpleasant substances. Current research by a group of scientists headed by Dr. Kara Hoover of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Professor Matthew Cobb from The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences, indicates that global gene studies can offer insight into how our tastes for diverse foods may have been influenced by our ability to smell. This exciting study was published in the journal, Chemical Senses, and proves that it is possible to reconstruct the sensory cosmos of our ancestors.

The Power Of Smell In Our Daily Lives

Often called the “guardian of our lungs,” the human nose warms the air that we breathe and acts as a filter that maintains the level of moisture needed to keep our bronchial tubes moist. In addition, smell also evokes memories and aids in sexual attraction, love and sex. Current research indicates that sexual attraction is not so much spurred by visual cues as it is by our unique body odors, which subconsciously direct us to our choice of partners. It also uncovered new data about the concept of sex pheromones, which are chemicals emitted in body fluids such as sweat and tears. The power of scent is one of the ways humans bond with their surroundings, and it is this aspect that modern ambient scent marketers have utilized to marketing perfection.

The Anatomy Of The Nose

That expression about things being “as clear as the nose on one’s face” really doesn’t apply when it comes to understanding the complex inner workings of the human nose. The process of smell is complicated, albeit all smells reach our consciousness in the same manner. Any and every smell originates in the strip of tissue known as the olfactory epithelium, which is located at the back of the nose underneath the mucus. Here there are millions of sensory neurons, which have a combined function of noticing odor and binding odor molecules. These receptor neurons can detect thousands of different aromas are often referred to as the “locks and keys” of the olfactory system. They aid in the identification of smells and transmit electrical impulses to the brain, which in turn interprets these “odorant patterns” as smell.

These repetitive arrangements were unknown until 2004 when they were discovered by Alex and Linda Buck. Their collaborative research earned them a Noble Prize that same year. Until just a few years ago, scientists tapped the scent differentiation numbers of the human nose at 10,000. But they were wrong. According to the very latest research, our noses can discern up to a trillion diverse scents!!

Smell, Memory And Marketing

The anatomy of the brain, specifically the olfactory bulb and its direct link to both the amygdala and hippocampus, offer an explanation about incoming smells, scent triggers and memory formation. These two key brain sectors are powerfully connected to emotion and memory perhaps because visual, auditory and tactile data do not pass through them. Several recent studies have demonstrated that our sense of smell triggers more vivid emotional memories particularly those relating to childhood, more than all of our other senses combined.

We recently wrote about how a random smell can trigger feelings of intense recognition and familiarity, and it may very well simply relate to the experience of having smelled it before that is remembered and nothing more complex than that. According to highly successful scent designer, Raymond Matts: “At least 35% of what we recall about an environment in the short-term is scent-based, compared with about 15% of what we see. Yet marketing campaigns still tend to be sight-led… Ambience scenting is about creating an emotional appeal to your location, something that’s distinctive and will be remembered in a positive way…”

Manipulating the power of fragrance is a veritable gold mine, and for those who create signature scents for their businesses, it means a fragrant way to increase traffic, revenue and ROI. Smell is the ultimate sales pitch, as it transports consumers on a magical ride of emotions. This journey has no destination, but it hurls the mind back into time with many stops along the way to nowhere in particular.

That long-forgotten bundle of memories associated with specific scents, such as an apple pie baking in the oven, cinnamon, fresh cut grass or coffee brewing, are always on the verge of recall throughout our lives. While the true power of scent may never be fully understood, its success as a marketing tool has been formidable, so much so, that among modern advertisers fragrance is considered as much of an effective marketing tool as any logo or catchy jingle.

The Olfactory Buy Button And Scent Triggers

The olfactory bulb is the first stop in the process of smell and its purpose is to connect the incoming aroma to other areas in the brain that control emotion and memory, which are collectively known as the limbic system. According to Alan Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment & Research Foundation in Chicago, “Smell has a greater impact on purchasing than everything else combined. If something smells good, the product is perceived as good… The quickest way to change emotions is with smell.”

Creating A Flow State Of Mind

At least one of the secrets of scent is its power to create a “flow state,” where one loses the normal sense of time and is totally consumed in the event. The flow state can last up to several minutes. Brand marketers feed on this factor and develop scents as a way to make consumers associate with and become loyal to a specific brand. According to author, Diane Ackerman: “Nothing is more memorable than smell. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines.”

Scent Marketing And ROI

Several years ago, The Nose Knows Design’s Scent Canister Campaign conducted an impromptu study that clearly demonstrated the connection between the introduction of a scent to a commercial retail space and that company’s subsequent return on investment (ROI). The success of their campaign was due largely to their specific focus on the increase in the sale of candles after the scent, peony blush, was introduced to the area of the store designated for candle sales. Results indicated that there was a 173.98% increase in candle sales and an overall 153.42% increase in general home fragrance product sales.

The Success Of The Olfactory Buy Button And Reputable Statistics And Studies

Why do scent triggers influence consumer behavior? The answer lies in the power of a given aroma to suggest positive memories, which in turn motivates purchasing decisions. Rachel Herz from Brown University and Haruko Sugiyama and colleagues from the Kao Corporation in Japan collaborated on a study in 2015 entitled: Proustian Products Are Preferred: The Relationship Between Odor-Evoked Memory and Product Evaluation. The study specifically identified how a product’s scent can both evoke memories and influence consumer opinions about the appeal of a specific product. The study was published in the journal, Chemosensory Perception.

The Proust phenomenon or “odor-evoked autobiographical memory,” mentioned in the study title above is derived from a scene in the French writer’s famous novel, In Search of Lost Time. While the narrator of the story dips a Madeleine cookie into a cup of tea, the aroma hurls him into another timeless dimension and a long forgotten mélange of childhood memories.

The Olfactory Buy Button, Memory And Modern Industry

Modern science is shedding new light on our understanding of the power of smell in terms of the modern market place. Retailers, restaurant owners and other industry leaders are slowly but surely paying very careful attention to the strategic influence of olfaction on the mind and behavior of today’s consumer. The average adult forms most autobiographical memories in the 20-year span between the ages of 10 and 30. However, some studies concerning memory retrieval with olfactory cues (olfactory autobiographical memories) indicate that when smell is associated with the memory, it dates even further back to very early childhood.

Statistics and studies indicate that a pleasantly scented commercial space leads to customers lingering longer, communicating more with staff and spending more money. They are also more likely to return to the establishment. One Las Vegas study concluded that slot players in scented environments spent 45% more money than those in an unscented one. (How much participants won or lost was not part of the study.)

Air Scent As Master Scent Marketers Of Commercial Spaces

We have been pioneers and leaders in the commercial scenting industry for more than seventy years. It all began back in 1946 when Bob Surloff, founder of Surco Products in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, invented the very first fan-operated air-freshener dispenser. The brand, Air Scent, was born, and the legacy of superior air care, odor neutralizing products and ambient scenting services continues to this day. They specialize in eco-friendly and cost-effective solutions for commercial spaces large or small. Their cutting edge, state-of-the-art scent diffusion technologies and odor control strategies can be adjusted for any size requirement.

Suggested Scents And Locations For Commercial Spaces

There are key areas of any industry that can benefit from ambient scenting. Near the entrance is a vitally important spot, as no business should ever underestimate the power of a first impression. A first scent whispers, ‘welcome’ to potential customers and is the last thing they will remember after leaving. For retail establishments, dressing rooms can be areas of concern, as the smell of feet and body odor can seep into the carpeting. Any public restroom, especially those in restaurants and food industry spaces, must be either odor-neutralized or pleasantly scented. A poorly maintained bathroom can turn clientele away from a restaurant permanently. For waiting rooms of all types, scents that relax and calm nerves work best.

Which Air Scent Fragrances Work Best Where?

Our manifold aromas are unique and each one serves its own fragrant and marketable purpose. Restful Lavender for example, is calming and soothing and works well in highly stressed work environments, while peppermint introduced in busy offices has a stimulating effect that promotes mental clarity, boosts energy and concentration levels. Fitness centers lean towards a white tea and fig scent to motivate action, Eucalyptus Mint to inspire activity and Lemongrass Sage to energize or provide a completely neutralizing scent.

Lemon scents and fragrances comprised of lemon notes, such as the highly fragrant Genoa Lemon, evoke a sense of cleanliness, and for this reason are often used in public restrooms. Air Scent diffusers can create the perfect mood for any location, including bathrooms. A clean smelling bathroom is just as much a part of winning customer loyalty as reasonably priced services, products or good food, and no client should ever smell anything unpleasant anywhere in any facility.

Every commercial enterprise should incorporate some form of ambient scenting as part of its marketing strategy to increase traffic, customer satisfaction and that all-important ROI. Take the time to understand the process of smell and how it can affect brain function and consumer behavior. Put another way, stop and smell those roses and incorporate that scent in your garden store, floral shop or nursery. Matching fragrance blends with products, product lines and fine fragrances is no easy task, and there are many decisions to make. Some questions include: Is there a preference for natural, synthetic or organic scents or the ultimate option to create a unique company scent?

The choices are endless and limited only by the confines of the human imagination. Speak with the team at Air Scent today and set your brand apart from all others tomorrow!

Final thoughts about the power of smell:

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.- Helen Keller


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