Power of scent in marketing

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While I was out recently in a super market, I walked past the counter for fruits and was really struck by the strong smell of oranges coming from the shelves.  Neither did it divert my attention to it but also compelled me to buy a kilo. It reminded me about how powerful our senses are in marketing. Without the use of smell, I wouldn't have given the oranges a second glance, but of course with a great orangey smell that stopped me in my tracks and influenced by behaviour.  Most of the communication is directed for the eyes as it is said that 80% of our decisions are influenced by what we see. Therefore, marketers often scramble for appealing to the eyes, through printed materials, TV ads etc.  when using  smell can really add to the effectiveness of marketing.

Smell is one of the most powerful senses that a human has. Recall, memories, emotions, feelings, and associations are quite easily accessed via sense of smell than through any other channel. In humans, there are four genes for vision, whereas there are 1,000 allocated to scent, which means we have the ability to differentiate more than 10,000 odours. According to the Sense of Smell Institute, 75 percent of all emotions we generate are due to what we smell. Marketers are well aware of this and for years they have used the power of scent as an important marketing tool. The power of smell is so powerful that it influences our decision whether to buy a product or not, whether to visit a particular restaurant or not and also to an extent it impact our recommendation for a particular product or service.

The most prominent products that use this power are perfumes and deodorants. Walk into any large super store or a mall and you would find the counters of all perfume brands right at the entrance. All that the sales staff is asking you to do is have a "free trial". They know it so well that there are every chances of conversion for those who go for this freebie. In fact, that's the best possible way to create a sale in this industry. However scent marketing is not only restricted to perfumes and deos. I remember walking down a street near a tube station in London and there was a bakery house right near the exit. Now the aromas of its freshly made bread and pastries used to spread right through its strategically placed window. Surely, that drove footfalls inside this bakery and eventually sales. Aroma branding is not just restricted to spreading inviting scents but also used to create a brand experience that would result in positive associations and aid brand recall. Also called olfactory branding, it is something that remains with the consumer in his memory and is better suited than reaching for the "eyeballs" which are difficult to reach in a crowded media bazaar. As a strategy, cafes are very good examples and a coffee store must make sure that the customer who walks in is greeted by the smell of fresh beans. In fact, there would be a difference in the smell of beans when you compare one coffee shop to another.

When you think of launching a new product in a market place, for example a soap,  a marketer looks into which "positioning" is unoccupied in the minds of the consumer and thus fill it with his unique offer. Smell becomes an important factor here too. Look at all soap brands and all of them carry a distinct "position" in terms of their fragrance. Smell can also be used to whet your appetite in restaurants and therefore, you have these open kitchens where food is cooked in an open place which obviously is meant to stimulate your urge for eating.  While natural fragrance cannot be produced always, artificial fragrance is also used and the ones that are commonly used are those of fresh bread and bakery products. Smell as a branding tool is not new but is gaining prominence mainly because of the media clutter and it being an important element in creating a "brand experience".  Every brand is striving to create its signature aroma which will not only help in creating an association for the brand but help in recall and influence buying decisions.
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