How Scent Helps You Deliver a Better Customer Experience
Updated: Jul 16, 2018
When you walk into a store, what are the first things you notice? Some people may say the items, others may say the staff or the visual layout but something that is extremely important to us subconsciously is the scent of the environment. The best example of scent marketing, whether it was intentional or not, is the smell of delicious food when walking past a restaurant or bakery. Your mouth may begin to water and within no time, you’ll want to go in for a bite to eat. Although scent marketing has been done for years, new research explains why it is so effective.
Firstly, it has been determined that our reaction times to smells is faster than that of touch, sight and hearing. One thing that separates our olfactory senses from our sight and hearing is how they are processed. For our sight and hearing to be processed, the messages must first meet at a relay centre in the hypothalamus. For our olfactory senses, this is not the case and therefore can be translated to us faster. Using smell is a great way to instantaneously capture a consumer and make a good first impression.
In addition, sense of smell is connected to our limbic system which aids our brain in recalling memories. In this way, if you can trigger your customers’ brains to associate the scent of your store’s smell with positive memories (such as great in-store experiences), they will be more likely to feel a positive connection with your brand. This way, when they walk into your store, it may trigger their memory and make the experience meaningful to them without them even realizing it. The scents do not have to recall positive memories with your store specifically, they could also just be positive scents. Relating back to the baking example, fresh baked goods can remind of us of birthday parties, our childhood home or our mom’s and grandmothers’ treats. These memories are all positive but are not a direct result of them shopping at your store.
A store that does a really good job of using scent is Saje. Saje sells aromatherapy and essential oil products that are used to improve health and cause relief. Not only when you walk in the store do you see natural looking decor like green plants and light wood, you also smell scents of fresh essential oils. Saje changes their in-store scents monthly. The scents are fitting to the time of the year and give the customers a chance to become exposed to a new scent each month. This also works as a sales technique because the scent that is in the air is sold there, so if the customer really likes the scent, they can buy it.
If I could give two tips regarding scents, it would be to stick to one signature scent for your store and to choose it wisely. Really consider what your store values are and what atmosphere you want to create. If your store is high end and simple, you may want a scent that is fresh and delicate whereas if your store is for young girls, you may want a light fruity or sweet smell. Having too many scents in your store could bombard your customer and make them feel less attached. Consistency is key and if every time they visit, the scent is consistent, that will re-jog their memory of the last time they were in.