In today’s world consumers are flooded with information, advertising and marketing tactics left right and centre. Consumers have seen it all, from the good to the bad and all the in-between. This phenomenon has been termed by marketers as “The Clutter”. Creative marketing and advertising campaigns attempt to break through the clutter in various strategies. These strategies often include finding untapped consumer spaces.

There is no overwhelming consumer space that is quite like in-store. A shopper’s visual and sound sense is constantly overwhelmed by promotions, sales, and messaging.  There is however one marketing tactic that is largely overlooked, which proves to be highly important in the minds of consumers.

In this case study overview, BrandScents shows how one retail store was able to offer their shoppers a unique experience in-store with the use of olfactory marketing.

Introduction: What is Scent Marketing?Scent marketing

Olfactory relates to all of the different parts of the human body that control the sense of smell, including the nose and brain.  The nose receives scent transmissions which are sent directly to the brain. There, our scents are identified and an appropriate response is given. It is these responses that make scent a powerful marketing tool.

Firstly, scent remains a largely untapped marketing tool, which means that consumers are still receptive to this sensory stimulus. Secondly, scent is so closely connected to our brains that different smells form associations, feelings and memories easily. Therefore, scent marketing provides a means to differentiate a brand on a consumer’s emotive level.

Brands often use scent marketing to distinguish themselves using a signature scent, which acts as a kind of scent logo. But brands can also use scent in different areas of the store to achieve different objectives, as in the case study explanation below.

About the Research: Retail Scent Marketing

The research we conducted included the implementation of scent marketing in three key areas of the retail space. The three areas were:

  • The fruit and vegetable section
  • The bakery
  • The meat and fish sections.

These were all scented differently – to achieve different effects. The meat and fish section were given a spice and black pepper scent, the bakery – a freshly baked bread scent, and the fruit and vegetable section – the scent of pineapple, fruit and coconut.

Survey and research procedures were carried out to determine the consumer perception before the implementation of scent, as well as after the implementation. The research aimed at determining the differences in shopper perception, but also looked at buying behaviour as a whole.

Some of the key changes looked at were:

  • The shoppers’ value of importance of certain elements in store
  • Customer satisfaction with these elements
  • Customer buying behaviour as a result of this satisfaction.

The Results: The Impact of Scent Marketing

The results showed that scent marketing resulted in a positive contribution to overall consumer satisfaction and shopping experience. The scented areas showed the highest positive change after the scents were introduced. This is important, as consumers expressed that suitable smell was their most important factor in terms of in-store atmosphere. Consumers also expressed that before the implementation of scents, they felt unsatisfied with the smells in-store.

The implementation of scents also improved satisfaction in areas unrelated to smell. For example, ratings improved in:

  • Staff friendliness
  • Cleanliness
  • Locating of products
  • Music
  • In-store temperature.

While there were no actual changes to these elements, consumers felt differently towards them. This shows how positive scent affects consumers’ emotions when shopping, and improves their entire experience.

Consumers also changed their buying behaviour. The percentage of shoppers who bought more than they planned to (spontaneous purchases) increased by 24%.

Another important result was that before the implementation, 19 consumers complained of the smell of meat and fish in other areas of the store. After scent implementation, this decreased considerably to 1.

In conclusion, Brand Scents was able to improve the consumers’ perception of the retail space with the use of scent marketing. Tapping into a marketing space that every consumer values, without pervading their space and overwhelming them with messaging proved effective in this retail environment.