Kathryn Hautanen

Kathryn Hautanen

2010

Mar 02 2011

Now Smell This

Scent Marketing and the Consumer

While there does seem to be something devious in using scent to connect consumers to brands, it also seems that there could be substantial benefits to help people through difficult circumstances by triggering appropriate emotional responses.

illustration by Erica Meade

The Experience Design course in Fall 2009 was a journey through the five senses and how they need to be understood in order to create better products and services. Being a marketing professional, I was already aware of how to connect to customers through the look, feel, taste, and sound of an offering. It was when we focused on the sense of smell that a whole new world opened up.

During one class, we had two artisan perfumers, Ineke Ruhland and Yosh Han, take us through the scent-creation process. We smelled many samples and learned about the types of perfume and how great classics like Chanel No. 5 were classified (in Chanel’s case, that scent is aldehyde). It was fascinating.

In addition to the in-class experiences, we also read a book by Luca Turin, The Secret of Scent, and it was then that I started to understand the business value of scent. Scent is the next big frontier in marketing. Scent enhances the memory of a product and cuts through the marketing clutter and moves straight to a consumer’s subconscious (think Johnson’s Baby Powder). Now that I am looking—well, smelling—for it, I notice scent marketing in some interesting places. For example, walking through The Grove shopping mall in Los Angeles, I passed a storefront that had a diffuser pumping a floral/citrus scent into the open-air mall. I can only assume that the scent was proven to increase the shoppers’ spending at the store.

While I was not able to get a good look at that diffuser, I do know that one of the biggest manufacturers of “scent delivery solutions” is ScentAir Technologies. Their client list shows how deep scent marketing is penetrating the marketing function. Their clients include Bloomingdale’s, the Westin, Florida Hospital and General Dynamics – an odd group upon first glance. However, when you understand the power of scent, it makes sense that a hospital would use scent (e.g vanilla) to calm a patient’s fear and the military would use scent (e.g. burning rubber) to evoke realism in a training exercise to better prepare a soldier.

While there does seem to be something devious in using scent to connect consumers to brands, it also seems that there could be substantial benefits to help people through difficult circumstances by triggering appropriate emotional responses. Start “looking” for scent marketing when you are out and about; you’ll be surprised by how widespread and effective it is. For more information on the science of scent and how it is used in business, please see the recommended reading list.

More Reading on Perfumes and Scent Marketing

  • The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell by Luca Turin
  • Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin
  • The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York by Chandler Burr
  • BrandSense by Martin Lindstrom
  • Scent Marketing Digest (Blog)

Like this post? This content was originally published in the 2009-2010 DMBA Student Annual. To order a copy of the publication today, please visit: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/Issue/120426.

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