How Scent Marketing Is Enhancing Gyms, Spas & Fitness Center Brands

The health and wellness industry is big business. Gyms, spas and fitness centers are everywhere. They come in all sizes and shapes and range from mega chains with hundreds of locations, small mom-and-pop shops, fitness centers in apartment complexes, hotels and offices, and even wellness centers in hospitals. Some are more appealing to the rich while others seek out the more budget-conscious consumer. The options are many and the profits enormous.

The power of scent is often not utilized as a marketing strategy.

Workouts almost always include invigorating music to inspire and energize participants, but scent, our most powerful sense, is often ignored. Those in the fitness industry seeking to improve sales and clientele should heed the advice of Michael Papas, Executive Perfumer at Givaudan Fragrances and creator of more than 100 scents: “Fragrance plays a huge role in the way one wants to feel. Different smells can motivate, relax or help reboot to put you in a frame of mind that will make you want to do something healthy, like working out.”

Gyms, spas and fitness centers everywhere seek to provide their clientele with more than just the bare essentials of membership. State-of-the-art equipment and classes are attractive features, but they aren’t enough to make a gym or fitness center stand out above others that are offering more or less the same services. Those involved in the fitness industry must rise above the smell of sweat and gain an edge by diffusing carefully selected scents that create a clean, healthy and revitalizing environment.

How can the proper scents in gyms, spas and fitness centers improve customer satisfaction?

The power of scent, like that old saying goes about women, should never be underestimated. It affects mood and energy like few other things that are available legally. Whether the aim is to relax, rejuvenate or re-energize, any fragrance can be tailored to suit any aspect of the fitness environment including locker and steam rooms, aerobics studios and public areas.

Targeting the scent to the right audience.

The key to success is to place the right scent in the right place so that when a customer enters the fitness facility, whether it is a gym, spa or a fitness center, they will want to sign up and become a part of the mood that fragrance exudes. Diffusing alluring aromas in a reception area always helps to create the first and last impression. Essential oils of cardamom, peppermint, and rosemary provide a beautiful welcoming scent to all who enter the gym, fitness center, salon or spa.

The most current research indicates that a strong membership retention rate for gyms and fitness centers is about 90%. If you are a fitness center owner or manager and your retention rate is less than that, consider scent marketing as a strategic tool that may increase that number by creating a scent that will connect with customers and in turn, make them less likely to cancel their memberships.

The best type of scents for gyms

The gym is in its own way, a sacred place that houses a lifestyle. Here, people unwind and focus on their well-being, confidence and inner strength. Scents that invigorate to get those juices flowing for weight lifting, for example, include: vibrant citrus notes of orange, lemon, lime and peppermint. For intense cardio and spinning workouts, fruity citrus notes of: pineapple, mango, tangerine, grapefruit, melon and pear provide a shot of energy as well.

Fitness centers and diffusing essential oils.

Healthy and clean scents enhance the fitness environment and the diffusion of 100% essentials oils, requiring a special machine the cost of which would eventually pay for itself, assures customers that they will not be inhaling airborne bacteria, viruses, and moulds.

Diffusing essential oils are revitalizing. Different ones are recommended both for before and after workouts, no matter what the sport. For example, peppermint, white fir and lemongrass are wonderful for pre-workouts, especially worked deep into the tissue of the thighs by hand. Wintergreen and frankincense are essential oils for relief from muscle tension during the post workout period.

Scents and the practice of yoga

Many gyms and fitness centers offer yoga practice and for those classes aroma is vital to relieving tension and creating relaxation. Scents that are particularly effective in this setting include: lavender, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood, sage, juniper and rosemary. Refreshing blends of eucalyptus and orange aid in meditation and serenity.

Spas, tanning salons and saunas

These businesses should focus on scents that soothe and relax the human spirit.  According to the Global Spa Report, the top reasons people visit a spa are: relaxation/stress management; hair/nails etc; skin care and pain management. Those in the spa business need to bear in mind that everything should be geared to the first reason; namely, relaxation and stress management. This entails a clear and consistent strategy.

Aromatherapy, relaxation and stress management

According to Gabriel Mojay, “Aromatherapy is the controlled use of essential oils to maintain and promote physical, psychological and spiritual well-being”. This speaks directly to the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs that draw clients to any given spa. For relaxation, relief from panic attacks, anxiety and insomnia, the spa experience can be enhanced with the help of essential oils such as lavender, marjoram, mandarin and Palo Santo.

How can the proper scent increase brand affiliation?

Veteran perfumer, Sue Phillips, founder of Scenterprises, and developer of fragrances for such giants as Burberry, Lancôme and Tiffany, refers to scent as “the last branding frontier.” The proper scent in the proper place is an integral part of customer bonding and loyalty to a specific brand. This is largely due to the fact that our sense of smell is the most powerful of the five because it is so closely linked to emotions and memory.

Although David Van Epps from Mood Media was not specifically referring to the fitness industry, the following comment captures the intention of a brand scent. “You always want fragrance to be subtle so that what you’re really doing is triggering that emotion, that pleasant memory, that overall experience, while not necessarily trying to hit the clients over the head with it…. You smell that fragrance over and over and over again [and] it actually absolutely imprints on you.”

The chosen scent must appeal to the target audience

The key to selecting the right scent for branding within the fitness industry lies in understanding the clientele the gyms, spas and salons are trying to attract and in finding a unique note in the selected brand fragrance that is both unmistakable and unforgettable. Scent marketing is an effective and cost-efficient way to strengthen a brand. Fitness industry leaders should never underestimate the power of scent marketing.

How can scent diffusing systems help to control and eliminate bathroom odors in these environments?

Gyms stink and have for decades. Most customers accepted the malodorous environment as a part of the “gym experience.”  Today, stink has fallen out of favor, and not sweetening the aromas of any health and fitness center, especially but not exclusively the bathrooms, is certain to send clientele jogging over to the next available fitness site.

Generally speaking, scent diffusing systems are subtle intruders in any given business space. They are usually strategically placed either out of view or in unexpected locations. Scent delivery devices are popular because they are so versatile; scents can be switched and altered many times throughout any given day.

Fitness centers usually select one of the following group of four fragrances for their gym or salon: a white tea and fig scent to motivate action; a eucalyptus and mint scent to inspire activity; a grapefruit and lemongrass scent to energize or a completely neutralizing scent.

The importance of a clean bathroom scent

Eliminating unpleasant odors particularly in the bathroom areas of gyms and salons is a necessary art form that has come a long way over the last four or five decades. There was a time when only casinos were using special scents to mask the acrid aroma of tobacco smoke. Today, cleanliness is a top priority for any fitness industry setting, and all areas, but particularly their bathrooms, must reflect that aspect to all of its clients.

Lemon notes are particularly potent both for their power to energize but also because they evoke a sense of cleanliness. Scent diffusers can create the perfect mood anywhere and that includes a bathroom. Winning customer loyalty may be contingent on a number of things, but fragrance is highly important and no client should ever smell anything unpleasant in any fitness facility area, but especially in the bathroom.

Clients can be just as easily turned off by a certain fragrance as they can become bonded with it. A signature scent is like a business logo in its own fragrant way. Sophisticated scent marketing strategies made possible by technological advances have created scent diffusion systems, transforming essential oils into molecules, which are dispersed throughout the desired space. These systems are important tools that give gyms and fitness centers a competitive edge.

Scent diffusers are here to stay, as smell is passé. While this may rhyme, it is also true. Scent marketing has revolutionized the fitness industry, and in its own way it has brought about another sweet smelling industrial revolution. If you’d like to learn more about scent marketing your gym, spa or fitness center, contact us and speak with one of our scenting experts!

Final thought on fitness:

Fitness is not about being better than someone.  Fitness is about being better than the person you were yesterday. ~ Anonymous


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