Marketers May Finally Be Smelling the Value of Scent Marketing

It has been over 5 years since we last discussed the idea of scent marketing, which can be defined as “the intentional use of olfactory elements, such as an odor or fragrance, for the purpose of enhancing customers’ experience with a product.” At that time, we suggested, that after a few false steps, maybe the time had finally come when more marketers would begin to deploy olfactory elements in their marketing efforts. Yet, five years later adoption of such methods remains relatively slow.

Obviously, the practice of scent marketing has almost always played a critical role in creating customer interest in industries in which smells represent the essence of the product being sold (e.g., baked goods, perfume). However, the adoption of this method across many other product areas, where the smell of the product may not be critical to the buyer, is still something that is slow to develop.

Yet, once again, there are reports this may be changing. This NPR story discusses new developments in scent marketing and provides several examples of companies selling scent-producing devices for installation in retail stores and other locations. For instance, a company called ScentAir, sells devices that can emit a single scent or be programmed to change the scent throughout the day.

The story also indicates that effective use of scent is not only about choosing the right ones but also the strength by which customers experience it with one industry expert suggesting a subtle aroma is more effective than strong scents. Finally, the story also offers a summary of what academics and other researchers have learned, and why they believe the time is now right for many others to explore scent marketing.