The rise of aroma marketing

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Aroma Marketing

We investigate the use of scent as a marketing tool, and talk to the companies leading the trend.

The world of marketing incorporates everything from glossy posters and elaborate window displays to thumping music, all of which are designed to arouse our senses. And when it comes to food, taste tests are a tried-and-true method for converting browsers to buyers. 

But what about our sense of smell? Continually seeking new ways to transform consumer wants into needs, marketers are exploring a new avenue: scent.

Although not a recent phenomenon – Coco Chanel is believed, back in 1921, to have ordered the salesladies at her Parisian boutique to spritz stores with her now-famous No. 5 fragrance to lure customers through the doors – scent marketing has only lately taken off as an industry.

With consumers able to easily shop online with a few simple clicks – we can now browse virtual supermarket aisles, reserve hotel rooms and even order a new outfit on a Friday morning and have it delivered in time for the weekend – brands are scrambling for ideas to bring consumer spending back to the physical realm. 

Scent marketing, according to its advocates, is emerging as one of the more effective methods.

Lead by the nose

Alex Cosic is the national sales manager for international scent marketing company, Air Aroma. He says the dramatic move towards online shopping means only one thing for brands: the renewed need for a competitive edge. 

“We’re coming into an era where the actual customer experience of being in a hotel or retail store is becoming more and more important,” he tells CHOICE.

Many of us can recall a store, hotel or entertainment space we find visually appealing, quirky or memorable. And, although the same products are often available online, as consumers we may be drawn back to these carefully orchestrated environments that, according to Cosic, are planned down to a certain music choice, view and, increasingly, scent. 

Enlisted by Qantas in 2010 to design the green tea-based fragrance used in its business lounges, Cosic has no doubt scent marketing will be vital to the future growth of brands that are in the business of selling.

Smell is one of our most powerful senses, according to Cosic – whose background in the wine industry taught him the value of aroma. “It’s linked to the fact that people tend to spend more time in the space if the area is comfortable, and from this it is likely that turnover will increase. If you have a great experience in a store, you’ll go back there all the time.”

How does it work?

  • Scent can be delivered via dry-air technology that releases fragrance without sprays, aerosols or heated oils, or via miniscule particles dispersed with cold air diffusers through the building’s air conditioning system.
  • The oil, created by professional perfumers, is not heated to ensure consistent diffusion.
  • The cost to scent a mid-sized hotel that diffuses for 18 hours each day is about $200-$300 per month.

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