Many firms use scents to influence purchases and reinforce their brands. Smells aim to create a pleasant shopping environment and encourage consumers to spend more time in the store. It is believed that the amount of time a customer spends in a retail store relates directly to the amount of money they spend i.e. the longer they stay the more money they spend. Scent marketing goes beyond spraying an air freshener to make a room smell nice; the choice of smell is based on specific research analysing what smells encourage customers to visit a store and purchase the products (on offer) once they have entered the store. The choice of smell will depend on the retailer and its products.
The diagram below shows the marketing results that can be achieved through scent marketing
Scent and Contextual Memories
Experts believe that a scent can trigger a memory of an occasion when a person last experienced that scent. The memory generated by the scent is known as a contextual memory and the scent is the cue prompting people to remember a specific or familiar situation. Other contextual memory cues include sounds, temperature, visual stimuli and a person's mood. Some marketing practitioners state that a context memory prompted by scents can generate emotions which encourage people to buy. The trick is to select a scent that will trigger contextual memories which seduce people into buying your products.
Coffee shop chain Starbucks enhances the smell of coffee in its stores by injecting coffee smells directly into each store. The idea behind the extra coffee smell is to create an alluring smell customers expect in a particular environment. This is a similar strategy to hotels using scents in their reception areas to create an environment that smells fresh and clean; hotel customers expect a clean and fresh bedroom. Finally cosmetics retailer Lush knows how to generate a smell which hits your nose in the street before you even enter one of its stores.
Scent and Seasonal Purchases
Some retailers will use specific smells to represent the time of year when their products are purchased by customers. For example the smell of grass and vanilla may remind people of summer and encourage consumers to purchase summer clothing. Whilst Cinnamon will remind some people of happy Christmas memories and encourage them to carry out Christmas shopping in the store carrying the smell.