How Scent Can Improve Your Sales

September 26, 2019 4 min read

How Scent Can Improve Your Sales

It’s common knowledge that scent can help create a pleasant environment, but did you know that it can also help improve your sales? Marketers around the world rely on scent to give their bottom line a boost, and the reason it works is fascinating.

Consider the role of scent in retail marketing. Businesses must consider many factors when working to create the right atmosphere to suit their products or services, including location, employee uniforms, décor, art, lighting, temperature, and music – and scent is increasingly on this list of things that combine to produce an immersive experience for the customer.

One splendid example of this is a movie theater, where the enticing smell of popcorn fills the building. They may also sell other foods such as pizza or candy, but it’s the smell of popcorn that people associate with going to see movies (and they know that, somehow, popcorn never tastes quite the same at home). Coffee shops also use scent to create the right customer experience – it doesn’t matter that they also sell food; what customers smell when they walk in is warm, rich, roasty coffee. Even home improvement stores take advantage of scent, filling their buildings with the smell of fresh-cut wood.

The blend of elements in a retail space can influence customer behavior by engaging all their senses, and smell is an important part of this.

The science behind scent marketing

The human brain is designed to tune into scent. An average person can distinguish thousands of unique smells. The sense of smell is unique in that, unlike other senses, scent travels through the brain immediately as opposed to being centrally processed first. This partially explains the physical reason why scent is so compelling, but the psychology of smell is even more interesting.

Have you ever smelled something that transported you back to your childhood or another special time in your life? Maybe specific smells remind you of a certain person, place, or event you remember fondly. It turns out that smell is the sense that is linked to memory the most closely. When you walk into that coffee shop and smell those fresh-roasted beans, the scent floods the parts of your brain responsible for memory and emotion processing, triggering happy memories even more effectively than actually drinking the coffee can.

The human body may work this way because it would have been useful in hunting and gathering or even finding healthy mates. Context is important too: visual and audio cues can influence our reaction to different aromas – something that’s important for marketers to understand.

Why scent works for retailers

The science makes it easy to see why retailers invest in scent marketing more and more often. It’s as important to avoid evoking bad memories as it is to elicit good ones when it comes to marketing. When you achieve the right balance, you create a positive brand experience that makes customers enjoy being in your store. A pleasant scent can encourage customers to stay in your shop longer and, when they do, sales increase – and so does customer loyalty. And no shortage of real-world examples shows how well it works!

How to use scent to increase your sales

Even if you don’t have the resources to craft custom scents the way some larger companies do, you can still benefit from the power of scent in your business. Keep the following facts in mind:

  • Ambient scents can have a positive influence on buying behavior provided the scents are well-suited to the products you sell
  • It may help to choose gender-designed scents, such as a “feminine” scent in a store that sells ladies’ apparel
  • Choosing a scent out of context can have the opposite effect – for example, choosing a “feminine” scent for a men’s clothing store
  • You can use seasonal scents to make people happy. Think holiday scents around Christmastime, or light florals in the spring

Creating the right ambiance

Because the human brain processes scent on a subconscious level first, low-key scents can make a bigger impact than you might expect. When you select a scent, consider how it will fit into your place of business as a background element. A subtle scent can improve your customers’ perceptions of your quality, reduce customer friction, and align perfectly with the way people process smells.

However, for some businesses, a stronger, bolder scent can work if it suits the brand’s personality. Scent is extremely subjective, so know who your customers are and what they expect of your brand to ensure you elicit the positive response you desire. Ideally, the scent in a retail space is pleasant but not distracting, providing a nice background element to the shopping experience.

Get started on your scent marketing strategy now

Today’s retail businesses have every reason to give scent marketing a go. Scent can positively influence customer behavior, and scenting your business is a cost-effective and low-risk way to improve your bottom line.

If you aren’t sure where to start, consider an aroma oil diffuser such as the AromaTech AromaPro diffuser. Capable of subtly scenting an area of up to 4,000 square feet, this diffuser is whisper-quiet and ideal for creating a clean, consistent scented environment in a retail establishment. We also offer a wide range of scents so that you can find the right one for your unique business.

Want to experiment with different scents? We also offer package deals with our diffusers that include the scent machine, a selection of hand-picked scents, and free samples for you to try. Or, choose one of our scent bundles, such as our Warm & Welcoming Bundle that includes Dark Vanilla, Vanilla Bourbon, Apple Pie, and Fresh Brewed Coffee aroma oils for a rich, inviting ambiance.

One of the great things about scenting your business is how flexible this strategy is. It’s easy to try different scents and switch gears if one doesn’t have the desired effect. Whichever scents you decide on, AromaTech can help with great scenting solutions. There’s no reason not to start experimenting now with using scent to increase your sales.


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