N.Y. grocery turns to scent marketing
A supermarket chain thinks the fastest way to its customers’ pockets is through their noses, so it’s filling up the aisles with intoxicating, artificial food aromas to entice customers to buy.
A Net Cost supermarket in Brooklyn, N.Y., has specialized scent machines mounted on its walls that fill the air with a never-ending scent of decadent milk chocolate or fresh-baked bread, among other scents.
The Brooklyn supermarket has five of the machines, including a grapefruit smell in the produce section, chocolate in the candy aisle and rosemary focaccia by the bakery.
The machines are part of a marketing campaign that targets a shopper’s sense of smell. But if you’d like to create your own original scent, it will cost you $5,000.
The store’s merchandise coordinator, Angelina Khristichenko, says she installed the machines two months ago after hearing about them overseas.
“I think because of these machines it makes customers hungrier,” she said.
The goal is simple – make customers hungry, and in turn, they’ll open up their wallets.
Sales in the grocery’s produce department, have gone up at least seven percent. So, with each machine costing $99 a month, this market says it’s made a good investment.
Khristichenko told CBS News, “So far so good, everyone’s enjoying it, everyone loves it.”
In the U.S., consumers spend an estimated $500 billion a year on food. With smell accounting for 75 percent of what we taste, there’s no denying a psychological effect.
Melvin Oatis, clinical supervisor of the New York University Child Study Center, said, “The sense of smell is so primal, it goes into an odor part of the brain before it can all register and it’s an unconscious wonderful thing that happens to you. So that sense of smell actually translates later into, ‘Oh, I wasn’t even hungry, but now I want popcorn.'”
But it isn’t the smell of fresh popcorn that’s overwhelming shoppers in this Brooklyn store – it’s smoked meat, among other scents.
When one woman learned that the smell of smoked meat wasn’t real in the meat department, she wasn’t bothered by the artificial scent because she said she liked the smell.
“It’s working,” she said.
How to increase brand engagement using scent marketing
Over the past decade there has been a steady growth of research outlining the benefits of diffusing scent within a retail environment.
This research has been conducted by both specialist research centres keen to explore the as yet enigmatic power of the human nose as well as by big brands, such as Samsung, who are pioneering the implementation of this research in the field.
Both interest groups have reported astonishing benefits for brands diffusing scent in the retail environment.
Significantly scent has been shown to:
a) Increase customer loyalty
b) Increase the perceived quality of products in scented stores
c) Increase the dwelling time of consumers in stores
d) Increase the likelihood consumers buy products.
Indeed, the Smell and Taste institute found in a study that 84% of respondents were more likely to buy a pair of Nike trainers in a scented room compared with a non-scented room and were even prepared to pay a staggering $10 more for the same pair of trainers!
The fast growth of the scent marketing industry, rather than being a precarious phenomenon, represents the natural evolution of consumer marketing.
Consumers are becoming indifferent to brands messages as they are visually and audibly overloaded with marketing materials.
Whether on the TV, Radio, billboards, print media or transport services, everywhere one travels there is a constant bombardment of marketing information.
This shouting match between brands will soon reach its pinnacle, as its effectiveness is already in doubt.
Innovative companies however, many of whom are market leaders, are increasingly employing scent marketing strategies to get their message ‘heard’.
Brands such as Sony Style, Samsung, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hilton Hotels, Procter and Gamble, Singapore Airlines, Disney, Westin Hotels, Lexus and many others understand two important facts, which has for them made using scent a no-brainer.
The first of these is that all sales transactions require an emotional connection between product and consumer before they take place.
The second fact is one that we all intuitively know, that the human sense of smell links directly with our emotion and memory, bypassing the rational part of our brain.
The sense of smell is therefore the only sense that allows brands to:
a) Cut through the visual/audio marketing minefield
b) Instantly communicate a brand’s values
c) Emotionally connect a brand and products to potential customers
d) Increase brand loyalty among all those visiting scented stores.
With dramatic drops in consumer spending over the last year, which have been speculated to continue and given the benefits of scent marketing for business, brands can no longer afford to ignore the nose.
For any brand looking to benefit from scent marketing they must ensure that:
a) They use/create the ‘Ideal Sent’ for customer group
b) They install the write scent delivery technology into their stores
The good news for brands is that there are now companies out there, who have the creative expertise to help brands manifest the ideal scent as well as the technology to diffuse the scent.
As they deal with the whole process, even installation of equipment, diffusing scent through retail stores is now a simple and cost-effective option for all brands.
In order to determine a brand’s ‘ideal scent’ we ask them to carry out a creative brief.
Scents all have very differing psychological effects on the human mind.
Lavender relaxes while peppermint stimulates for example, and societal experiences of these scents differ also.
Brands therefore need to determine exactly what it is they are trying to achieve with the scent that they decide to diffuse through their stores as well as determine exactly what they want the scent to say about them.
By looking at a brands target audience, color theme, values, identity, and market position, experts work to find a scent that compliments and enhances the brand message while ensuring the scent contains the psychological components necessary to ensure consumers are positively affected in the right way each time they visit a scented store.
The ideal scent becomes known and recognized as a company’s scent logo, custom scent, or branded scent which is as recognizable to consumers as their visual logo and strapline.
Consumers will feel more comfortable, relaxed and eager to spend their money in a store dispersing a brands scent logo.
Despite the high profile of the brands mentioned in this article scent marketing strategies are now affordable for almost every company looking to gain a competitive edge.
Watch out for an explosion of brands creating their own scent logo and diffusing it through their stores over the next couple of years.
The smell of commerce: How companies use scents to sell their products
Does the subtle hint of coffee make you more likely to buy a cup?
Does the aroma of piña colada cause parents to linger in toy shops?
Christopher White gets a sniff of the companies using scents to sell.
Sit through a TV ad break and you’ll quickly find two senses assaulted on behalf of a third: smell.
Businesses looking to sniff out a commercial opportunity have been aware of its power for a long time, even if this has usually focused on shifting products that cover up malodorous breath, armpits or feet.
Time magazine reported last month that the aromas of chocolate and baked bread in the Net Cost grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, are all artificial, being pumped into the store by machine.
Their story kicked up a bit of a stink and generated considerable interest in a form of marketing that has, until relatively recently, been largely overlooked.
“It seemed to hit a raw nerve with a lot of the major supermarket chains here,” says Steven Semoff, the acting co-president of the Scent Marketing Institute.
“Because, when you think about it, in the world of product promotion, advertising and branding, everything is about sight and sound. Our senses are basically saturated. No one has really been tapping into smell, and the sense of smell is directly hardwired into your brain.”
Although Time and some of the supermarket chains are just starting to get a whiff of the idea, it’s not such a new one, having grown up over the past five years or so as “nebulisation technology” – through which a fragranced oil is converted into a dry vapor.
This has become more commercially viable and useable on a wide scale.
Smells can be distributed through a store as simply as with a fan, or via complete integration with an air-conditioning system.
Five companies in the US control around 80 per cent of the world market in scent marketing and an estimated 10-20 per cent of retailers in the US are their customers.
“It is fairly widespread here,” says Mike Gatti, the executive director of marketing at the National Retail Federation.
“A lot of retail companies use it, and its purpose really is to keep customers in your store, to create this welcoming environment – and it works; it does keep people in your store longer. It helps people feel better in their shopping, and in a lot of cases causes them to spend more money.”
Semoff says that a study run by Nike showed that adding scents to their stores increased intent to purchase by +80 per cent, while in another experiment at a petrol station with a mini-market attached to it, pumping around the smell of coffee saw purchases of the drink increase by 300 per cent.
“Numbers are pretty outrageous,” he says.
It’s thought that it works so well because the sense of smell is most directly connected to the parts of the brain responsible for processing emotions.
“It goes directly to the limbic system, which is the emotional control center of your brain, so you smell something and – bang – it triggers an emotion,” says Semoff. “Whereas all the other senses have to be processed first”
But is it ethical, particularly in the case of businesses selling food?
Dispersing the scent of chocolate or bread through a store implies that those smells come from the products being sold, which is not the case.
Surely it reeks of deceit and manipulation?
Maybe not, according to Alex Hiller, an expert in marketing ethics from Nottingham Business School.
According to him, marketing ethics frameworks usually take into account consumers’ freedom, autonomy and wellbeing, and making supermarkets more fragrant doesn’t necessarily violate any of these tenets.
“Yes, changing smells is manipulative – this is the whole point,” he says.
“But it is mild, and I would argue that consumers realize and accept that in all artificial, and especially retail, environments, some mild form of manipulation does take place and it in no way constrains anyone’s freedom, autonomy or well-being”
Compared to, say, fast-food outlets displaying photographs that bear no resemblance at all to the limp-lettuced burgers actually on sale, it comes out rather well.
“A picture should provide a visual cue to the product you receive, and if you don’t receive this then some form of deception has taken place” Hiller says.
“You’re basically drawing attention to particular items“ says Rachel Herz, a visiting professor in the department of psychiatry and human behaviour at Brown University in Rhode Island and the author of The Scent of Desire.
She gives the example of using the smell of cinnamon at the location where cinnamon buns are found in a store, which will make people more likely to buy that product.
“If you have any appetite for sweets, it’s an enormous draw” she says.
Scents aren’t just used to promote particular products, though.
Stores, hotels and clubs can use artificial smells more generally to create a more pleasant environment for the customer – and to reinforce a company’s brand.
“They’re effectively adding a scent logo to their establishment” says Herz.
Just as bits of music played on TV adverts can become irrevocably associated with the product they’re being used to sell (this writer can’t hear Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day” without thinking of a certain popular brand of tea), so too for smells – they can bring to mind the experience of, say, being in a hotel and, thanks to the strong link between smell and memory, work as a powerful reminder.
To work positively, the experience being recalled would need to be a good one.
“Smells don’t have any meaning prior to being associated with an experience, then after they become experienced with something, that’s what they represent,” says Herz.
If a lousy time was had by all, the associated smell would bring that to mind too.
So, the technology is predominantly used by upmarket hotels and resorts, rather than budget accommodation.
This more general application, rather than for specific food products, seems to be the principal use now that manufactured smells are beginning to waft over to the UK too.
None of the supermarket chains contacted by “The Independent” is using scent marketing – most prefer to use natural smells of, say, their bakeries, while one seemed offended at the very suggestion.
There are few scented aisles on this scepter isle.
But a number of other retail outlets and other enterprises do employ artificial smells.
ScentAir UK, Britain and Ireland’s biggest distributor and a cousin to the American firm supplying that Brooklyn grocery store, has attracted around 600 clients since it set up in 2008, including developing the piña colada smell being used in children’s toy shop Hamleys over the summer (it makes parents “linger longer” apparently), and supplying fragrances to celebrity-favorite nightspot China white.
One of their newest customers is the M&M World store in London’s Leicester Square, which became the world’s biggest sweet shop when it opened in June.
“What they sell comes pre-packaged,” says ScentAir UK’s managing director Christopher Pratt.
“So, although it looked like the place should smell of chocolate, it didn’t.” It does now.
Pratt says the company provides a “full service” package to its clients, from supplying and installing the machines to replenishing the fragrances.
“As a percentage of a typical marketing budget, it’s tiny,” he says, telling of hotels spending twice that on scented candles alone.
The right scent can depend on several factors.
Research by Eric Spangenberg, the dean of the college of business at Washington State University, who has been researching the effect of smell on customer behavior since 1996, has found that it affected everything from cultural norms, gender and appropriateness to the product.
“Another area where we’ve seen effects is if you’ve got a scent that’s congruent with a season.
So, for instance, shopping and the seasonal effects of scent – people expect Christmas to smell like cinnamon or something like that,” he says.
Comparing this with a scent more appropriate for Easter, he found positive effects for the seasonal smell and negative effects for the incongruous one.
Using the correct smell is crucial.
“If you get it right, it’s a good thing,” says Herz.
“If you get it wrong, it’s worse than no scent at all.”
For businesses across many sectors, getting their fragrances right could mean the difference between the lingering stench of failure or the sweet smell of success.
United Cinemas deliver the ultimate cinematic experience with the introduction of scenting
It is well known that businesses that innovate and differentiate themselves from their competitors achieve higher returns. A few months ago, Chairman of United Cinemas Australia, successful entrepreneur and Opera Singer, Mr Roy Mustaca had the idea of introducing a signature fragrance to the cinema experience.
United Cinemas is currently looking to grow its business and scenting is seen to assist with this growth strategy by enhancing the customer experience and creating brand loyalty.
United Cinemas currently offer state of the art digital projection technology that delivers crystal-clear images with a level of quality that is far above ordinary projection standards.
They also understand that what you hear is just as important as what you see in the theatre and all of their venues feature powerful audio surround systems that deliver laser-aligned digital sound.
Experience all this in the comfort of their luxurious recliner seating. Now, with the introduction of a United Cinemas fragrance, the customer experience is taken to a new level that is not only a first within the industry but also makes competitors cinema offerings less attractive and not as affordable.
United Cinemas can now deliver the ultimate cinematic experience with comfortable seats, amazing screens, outstanding sound, great food (we recommend the restaurant located at Warriewood that serves great food!) and now a beautiful perfume that lingers in the air.
Mr Roy Mustaca, who came up with the idea of introducing a fragrance for United Cinemas, is very excited about launching the United Cinemas fragrance. He explains, “The introduction of a scent will provide the perfect experience to our customers. The scent is now part of our brand standard”.
Scent Marketing creates Greater Product Interest and Boosts Sales
Scent marketing is becoming an incredible tool as brands conceive the role scent plays in connecting with customers on an emotional level.
It’s most effective when combined with other sensory triggers, such as the use of lighting, sound and luxurious surroundings combine to create a mood.
Where 100% pure essential oils are used for olfactory marketing, it delivers added health benefits through the anti-bacterial properties of essential oils.
The power of Scent Marketing has valuable impacts:
- Boosts Sales
- Impress your customers
- Differentiates you from your competitors
- Enhances your brand’ and ensures that you are, remembered
- Increases your staff’s productivity and substantially being
- Triggers positive emotional memories amongst your customers
- Achieves high impact product promotion at the point of purchase
When using scent marketing, it is proven that:
- 15,9 % increase of the stay in time
- 14,8 % increase of desire to shop
- 6,0 % increase of the turnover
Using practiced and proven olfactory marketing techniques, crapper help you to connect your customers to your brand.
Using uniquely created scents for marketing purpose ensures that your customers enjoy your products and services spend more time and money exclusive your retail space, remember you, and return time and time again.
In short, Scent marketing, combined with cutting edge scent design and diffusing technologies means that the possibilities are endless!
- Nike found that people in scented room were 84% more likely to purchase Nike sneakers than those in an odor-free room. And they were also willing to pay $10.33 more.
- A study of Las Vegas slot players showed they spent 45% more in a scented environment than those in an unscented one.
- A vanilla perfume was used in NYC’ Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre to turn anxiety in patients before MRIs’ and it worked.
- The diffusion of lavender during breaks at work has been found to prevent the deterioration of work performance.