The Cents In Scents: How Aroma Branding Increases Revenue

Aroma branding has its roots in the glorious and fragrant past of the ancient world. Perfumes, scents and aromas have been featured in the rituals and medicines of several civilizations including: Greece, Rome and China. Scents have always been recognized and respected for their power to influence moods and emotions.

The historical precedent for aroma branding

The ancient Greeks used terracotta pottery as vessels to conserve their perfumed essences. They also rubbed these fragrances on their athletes.

In Egypt, more than 5,000 years ago, diverse scents were utilized mostly for embalming purposes. The Romans were known to release perfumed doves during banquets to sweeten the air. They also perfumed their flag when they went off to war to inspire courage.

One very clever Chinese Emperor trained his business envoys to perfume their silks so that the merchants from the west would be more prone to buy them.

Aroma branding, the modern world and Martin Lindstrom

Aroma branding is fast becoming a very viable business strategy. It has the power to quietly influence consumer moods and purchases. Professional business marketers have learned that the right fragrance in the right place opens wallets.

According to Jennifer Dublino, vice president of development at Scent World Events, in 2014, the global scent marketing industry grossed an estimated $200 million in revenue and income figures have increased 10% annually since.

Scents of all types pervade our third sense and diffuse into memory because their allure is ethereal, universal, timeless and specific.

Since the 1960s, retailers have been aware of the power of aroma branding and near subliminal scents when it comes to seducing consumers to make a purchase. Casinos were among the first business establishments to strategically utilize scents, and they did so to mask the foul odor of smoke. It would be a while before other retailers and marketers followed suit.

Brand specialist, Martin Lindstrom, led a landmark study using neuroscience to locate the buy button in the human brain. He refers to the art of “buyology,” which sounds like the study of cells but is more related to its homonym, the verb to sell. Research revealed that 60% of shoppers make decisions in less than four seconds and that ambient scenting and/or aroma branding is a primary catalyst for those choices.

Aroma branding and the power of persuasion

Retailers all over the world have come to realize that fragrance is key to increasing their sales. For, example, the Australian company, Bakers Delight, prospers despite national financial difficulties.

The store’s manager, Chris Caldwell, claims success is due to the fact that the store appeals to all senses by allowing counter-tasting of the store’s signature fresh baked bread, the aroma of which permeates the store.

Even some banks have signed on to the near subliminal scents bandwagon. They have adopted a strategy based on accumulated research, which suggests that the right scent can shorten the time patrons feel they have been standing in line.

We’ve written extensively about ambient scent marketing, but briefly, it is a sales strategy that is constantly expanding and reinventing itself to benefit sales for most businesses. Every year, more and more companies are introducing near subliminal scents into stores and other venues featuring their product lines and/or services.

In addition to department stores and retail environments catering to both female and male customers, scents, such as vanilla for women and pumpkin for men, are deliberately and strategically placed where marketers believe they will have the most influence. There are other perhaps even unexpected places where scent can enhance moods such as funeral parlors, medical, legal and dental offices.

Gyms and exercise centers for example, might introduce a lemon or peppermint scent, which is known to improve the perception of performance. Lavender, a soothing and relaxing fragrance, is a perfect near subliminal scent for airports, train and bus terminals as well as yoga studios because it relieves stress and is both soothing and relaxing to those rushing to make a travel connection and/or experience a spiritual, physical and emotional release through exercise.

Business environments and multiple scents

Car showrooms and sports stadiums for example, are companies that must distinguish themselves with customers by means of a deeply influential scent. According to research, in some instances, multiple fragrances may influence customers’ choices more than one single aroma branding strategy.

One example of this is Marlins Park, a baseball stadium in Miami, whose marketers have developed a near subliminal scent that includes diverse aromas. For the general concourse area, the smell of caramel popcorn pervades to create a mood of family, nostalgia and whimsy.

In the elite and luxurious Diamond Club, aroma branders have introduced a more sophisticated black orchid aroma. Even more symbolic is the muted orange scent in the team store, which subtly suggests the stadium’s history of hosting the Orange Bowl.

Specialty food sections in supermarkets offer another illustration. Asian and Indian spices and seasonings blend well with scents that suggest exotic and far away lands. These include: sandalwood oil and fresh rose floral essences, which are known as ittars. Sweet and unmistakable, these scents subtly influence the buying impulses of the average consumer.

Scent is the last frontier in brand marketing

Scent marketing falls into two distinct camps; ambient scenting and aroma branding. The former merely fills a space with a pleasant, near subliminal scent and the latter concerns developing a signature scent, which serves as an “olfactory logo.” To create an iconic brand suggests that a signature scent is the best way to achieve that goal.

We recently wrote about the top 9 fall scents helping to increase retail revenue to illustrate how aroma branding, or scent marketing, with seasonal scents can help a consumer-oriented environments thrive. Below are just three of those scents, but the rest of the top nine fall scents can can be found here.

Hot Spiced Toddy

This mélange of spices and fruit is always associated with Christmas Eve and invokes thoughts of warmth, family and holiday cheer. The strategic placement of this near subliminal scent could encourage a visitor to a ski lodge to return next winter. Consumer sales could peak in stores featuring fireplaces and supplies; warm winter clothing and outerwear; winter sports gear and accessories.


No aroma branding strategy could suggest the joy of Christmas and childhood wonder more than gingerbread. Spicy and sweet, this scent is a powerful enticement for sales in shops featuring: Christmas ephemera such as cards and gift wrap, and holiday decorations; baked goodies; toys; coffee and gourmet culinary supplies.

 Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Pumpkin is considered a masculine near subliminal scent and this blend of spice and fruit and nutmeg recreates the aromas and memories associated with the holiday season. Retailers catering to men’s clothing, accessories, toiletries and activities should consider incorporating this fragrance into their seasonal aroma marketing strategies.

Aroma marketing and commercial scent diffuser systems

Scent diffusion is a marketing tool that dates back to the 1920s and to the colorful times of iconic designer, Coco Chanel. She had just created her No.5 fragrance, designed the bottle and even went so far as to send samples to all the society women of Paris.

Still, she knew she needed more, and in her own Parisian boutique, she insisted that all of her sales ladies spray the fragrance all over the store, with an especially heavy touch at the entrance.

Behind-the-scenes commercial scent diffusers have changed all that. Customized scented environments for resorts, casinos, hotels and retail establishments of all types rely on the specific and delicate pairing of surroundings and near subliminal scents.

Diffuser technology and scent systems are safe but there is some controversy concerning the droplets of oil that that the diffusers mist into the air. Being seduced into making a purchase is one thing, but are consumers safe breathing in the misted air?

Air Scent’s Diffusion System

The Aroma Beam method of scent diffusion can cover up to 50,000 cubic feet and is perfect for instilling aroma branding in retail establishments, hotels and healthcare facilities. It is precise in its development of a customized scent, taking into account the use of space and interior design.

It includes two 30-day specially formulated refill systems and plugs into any standard wall outlet. Retailers can choose from a variety of near subliminal scents and select from three different mounting options.

In summation, retailers are capitalizing on the power of aroma branding to enhance their sales and customer experience. The modern merchant understands that research has proven that even a tiny particle of a near subliminal scent can influence consumer perceptions and increase the volume of sales and the number of store visits.

Like any technology, aroma branding has its liabilities and its critics. For the most part, however, the good outweighs the bad, and aroma branding is perfumed manna from heaven for retailers seeking to make sense of the cents in scents.

Final thought on fragrances:

Perfume is magic. It’s mystery. We recreate the smell of a flower. Of wood. Of grass. We capture the essence of life. ~ M.J. Rose~ Seduction

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