Can we use scent to create good memories for our customers, and by doing so encourage them to stay longer or return sooner? This blog post looks at the psychology of smell and using scent marketing in the retail environment.
How smell affects your mood
We’ve talked about the power of smell to affect productivity in the office, but can smell also affect our mood? And if it can, can businesses use this insight to create happier customers who stay longer and therefore spend more?
In an article in Scientific American, Rachel Herz, an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University in the USA explained that odours can have a dramatic impact on our mood. But what is interesting is how smell affects mood – not like a drug or medicine, but rather through our experiences with a particular smell.
For a smell to elicit any sort of response in you, you must first associate it with something. This is because scent is so highly connected to the memory centre of our brain. In fact, we’re 100 times more likely to remember a smell, than a sight or sound.
Although the majority of odour associations are acquired in childhood, any time a new smell is encountered associative learning mechanisms determine how we perceive that smell. Anecdotes of liking or disliking scents because of their connection to people, places or strange food preferences are typical examples of how associative learning and emotional context influence odour perception.
A number of studies have gone on to show that scents people like make them feel good, and (fairly obviously) the scents people dislike make them feel bad.
So can businesses harness the power of smell?
If we accept the research that says smell affects 75% of the emotions we experience on a daily basis, it’s not hard to imagine that we might be able to harness the power of scent to positively impact the customer experience.
Businesses can draw on the power of smell to help establish deeper emotional connections and more positive responses from their customers.
In our post How a clean and fresh fragrance can reassure customers, we looked at the power of scenting to reassure customers as they return to public indoor spaces post-pandemic. Firmenich, who provide us with our Premium Scenting fragrances, conducted extensive research in 11 countries to investigate how the pandemic affected the fragrances that individuals are buying and are most drawn to.
They found that ‘Today, there is a true consumer shift towards fragrances that evoke feelings of safety, cleanliness, and serenity.”
Happy customers stay longer
In addition to feelings of safety, research carried out by Prolitec and Rentokil Initial in 2016 (The Business Impact of Scent Report) found that using scenting in business can have the following positive outcomes:
- 48% of people said a pleasant smell in a hotel would make them more likely to return
- A pleasant smell in a hotel makes 67% of people more patient and relaxed
- 91% of consumers say a pleasant smell in a hotel would have a positive impact on them.
- Customers linger up to 40% longer in areas that smell nice
- Scent marketing can improve customer satisfaction by 7%
- Scent can elevate mood by up to as much as 40%
- Specific scents can increase sales from 20 to 90% in some studies
- 74% of consumers are drawn into a store because of the smell
- Two environmental interventions, music and scent, can reduce queue rage