Event Scents

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Using Scent to sell more 05/18/2010

We may not realize it here in the United States so much, but the use of fragrance and scents to drive marketing in business is used around the world today.  From grocery stores using fresh baked bread, to coffee shops using fresh roasted coffee beans, to department stores using sensual perfumes in the lingerie departments, and even to fuel companies that are putting fragrances into the gasoline itself to make it smell better … all of it is driven towards trying to get consumers to pay attention and purchase more goods.  Following (reproduced in its entirety) is an interesting article written by Pankaj Molekhi from the India division of the Economic Times, which talks about the use of aroma marketing to drive sales of consumer goods in India.

Most interesting to me, of course, is the use of fragrance in gasoline … I am not sure that I personally would base my decision of where to purchase fuel based on what said fuel smelled like, but then again who knows.  And that brings to mind a good question … does anyone know if any of the fuel companies here in the United States put fragrances into their gasoline?  If so, who does and what do they use?  And if your gas smells like food would it make you hungry all the time while you are driving around, or would it make those you drive by who smell your exhaust hungry??

Things that make you go “Hmmmm” sometimes.  Here’s the article … enjoy!

“Aroma emerges as stimulant to urge consumers into buying goods & services” … May 16, 2010.

Have you ever walked past a coffee shop, inhaled the heady smell of roasted beans and felt a strong urge to buy a cuppa? Or strolled past a pizza shop only to come back for a Margherita right away?  Welcome to the mantra of aroma marketing, a strong selling device and the first physical encounter between the product and the consumer.

“Aroma is an important part of our ambience,” says Saurabh Swarup, head of marketing and product development, Barista. “After all, coffee is all about aroma. And Barista is not just about drinking coffee; it is about experiencing the drink.”  According to Mr. Swarup, the light smell of ground beans is their first face-off with the customer as he walks into Barista outlets. “So while coffee aroma per se is not our sole appeal, we do use this strong marketing tool to our advantage.”

Scientifically speaking, the information perceived by olfactory senses directly and immediately influences the decision-making. “We must not underestimate the role of smell in the perception of information from the surrounding environment,” says Ramanuj Majumdar, an IIMC professor and author of Consumer Behaviour: Insights from Indian Market.

According to Prof Majumdar, the idea of aroma as a marketing tool is age-old. It was first initiated by French cosmetics marketers and later gained space in liquor market too, where different flavours were introduced to boost up sales.  However, since unlike the sight and the hearing, olfactory senses cannot be activated through the mass media, the aroma marketing remains in the realm of the exotic and the exclusive. “The procedure is still evolving,” he adds.

Today, there are supermarkets in the West that saturate their escalators with expensive perfumes, conceived for a well-off clientele. Experts believe this immediately sets up a ‘connect’ with their high-profile patrons. The customer settles down, feels at home and sub-consciously decides that he has come to the right place.  Similarly, furniture traders use conifer tree or earthy aromas to stimulate their prospective customers make a quicker decision. The stores of undergarments and wedding accessories too use sensual and exciting aromas to stimulate feelings of comfort.

According to the Amsterdam-based Graphic Scents Direct, which provides “creative marketing solutions” to a number of MNCs across the Europe, the aroma marketing is a series of events, “using the potential effect of aromas to the human behaviour, stimulating the customers to purchase goods and services”.  For instance, bakeries increase the volume of sales by filling the vicinity with freshly baked bread and enhancing impulsive purchases. Fuel service company TOTAL aromatise the fuel with vanilla flavour while ESSO aromatises diesel fuel with strawberry smell.

Delhi-based aroma therapist Rupal Tyagi agrees. “Aromas that float in the air influence the decision of the customer in favour of one or another product. There are signature fragrances, suited to a certain element of our nature, which can calm down anxiety and possibly make the consumer keen to spend generously.”  A diploma holder in clinical aroma therapy from the Regent Academy, London, Ms Tyagi says there are aromas which can rejuvenate human system, create a feeling of well-being, and rouse a consumer to splurge. “Similarly, there are oil blends which can instantly improve appetite. These could help a restaurateur improve sales. The results can be compared within a month to judge the efficacy,” says the aroma therapist confidently.

But, as Prof Majumdar points out, the formal use of this marketing tool is still evolving in India.  “Each culture, region and people has its own preferred smells. While using aroma as a marketing tool, the vendor must research well about its clientele and customer profile,” says Prof Majumdar. So far, no particular brand is using aroma marketing, but the trend is palpable, he adds.

“You can realise it when you enter a multiplex, where each shop has its own smell and character. Like the feel of a cloth matters in buying garments, in addition to its looks and price, the scent of a market also goes beyond your nostrils.” So, marketers can you smell an opportunity already?

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