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What Business Owners Need to Know About Modern Scent Marketing

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In recent years, research and increased consumer acceptance have led to widespread acceptance of previously fringe marketing techniques, including scent marketing. It turns out, every scent has the potential not just to evoke memories, but also to improve customers’ moods or even inspire spending. Business owners can find out what they need to know about how to harness the power of scent marketing for their customer-facing brands below.

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The Importance of Purchasing High-Quality Oils

Before getting into the specifics, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss overall quality concerns. Unfortunately, not all scents are created equal. While reputable manufacturers like AromaTech use only natural, certified non-GMO essential and aroma oils that are tested for contaminants, not all companies can say the same.

The problem is, the quality of aroma oils can directly impact human health. Low-quality oils that contain extenders and adulterants like DEP, DPG, petrochemicals, and other artificial additives may pose a risk to employees’ and customers’ health. Some cause adverse nervous system effects, while others impact the endocrine system. The worst offenders may even increase people’s risk of developing cancer.

Business owners should avoid purchasing essential oils and aroma oils from companies they don’t know and trust. Look for a supplier that works with the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) to ensure the highest quality standards. These industry leaders use only safe ingredients sourced from renewable resources.

The Science Behind the Scents

scent marketing

The basic idea of scent marketing is simple. It harnesses the human brain’s ability to form emotional connections with specific fragrances and turns those connections into a trigger for desired shopping behaviors. It’s not pseudoscience, either. The effectiveness of scent marketing is backed by empirical research.

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A customer’s sense of smell is more powerful than the average person realizes. The sense of smell is the only sense that is processed by the limbic system, which is also responsible for processing emotions, memories, and perception, without first passing through other areas of the brain. The human nose can detect hundreds of thousands of distinct scents thanks to a process known as olfaction.

The olfactory system contains myriad receptors, each of which is tailored to recognize the molecular shape and structure of a unique odor. Scent marketing focuses on those fragrances most likely to elicit positive emotional responses and validate desirable consumer intentions, such as spending more time in a store or being willing to pay more for products.

The Benefits for Business Owners

Scent marketing creates a more pleasant experience for customers. If business owners find the right scents for their brands, it also creates a positive association in their minds between the company’s products or services and their emotional states.

Scent marketing improves brand recognition and bypasses many modern consumers’ cynicism regarding more conventional advertising techniques. It creates lasting positive impressions, and can subconsciously convince customers or clients to spend more time in a store, restaurant, spa, or even a hotel lobby. Certain scent associations have even been shown to decrease inhibitions surrounding consumer spending. The bottom line about the benefits of scent marketing for commercial businesses is that it helps to improve the company’s bottom line. Yes, the business will need to invest in a high-quality scent diffuser and sign up for a monthly aroma subscription, but the return on investment will likely make up for those additional expenses remarkably fast.

The Keys to Effective Scent Marketing

Now that business owners understand the basics of scent marketing and why it works, let’s take a look at the specifics. To be effective, scents must correspond with the company’s brand identity and its physical location. In other words, the association needs to be a natural one. If the store sells nothing but electronics, the delicious aroma of home-baked bread will do little to convince customers to buy new gadgets.

When posed with unexpected scent associations, many people interpret even familiar, otherwise pleasant smells in a negative light. The scent needs to fit the surroundings. To create a lasting impression, it also needs to be distinguishable from other common aromas. Most importantly, it needs to reflect the company’s brand identity and the industry within which it operates.

Every industry is different, and so is every brand. That said, cognitive science offers some insight into what kinds of scents will work best for different commercial environments, and business owners should pay attention to those trends.

Scents for Hotels

There are two ways to go about scent marketing for hotels. Chain hotels often create signature scents to go along with the brand’s theme. Independent hotel owners tend to take a different approach by choosing fragrances that complement the hotel’s location. For instance, a hotel located in sunny South Florida might smell like an invigoratingly fresh orange grove, while a hotel owner in a mountain ski town would be better off choosing a soothing, earthy fragrance.

Scents for Retail Stores

Retail store owners have been experimenting with scent marketing since the 1970s, and so far, their experiments have paid off. The key here is to find an ambient scent that evokes positive memories and emotional connections to the products. For example, a store that specializes in selling high-end swimsuits might benefit from a scent that reminds buyers of a beachside vacation. A local pastry shop, on the other hand, is better off choosing sweet, comforting scents like vanilla or cinnamon.

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Scents for Salons or Spas

Spas and beauty salons strive to create a relaxing environment that leaves their customers feeling both calm and rejuvenated. Every spa is a little different, so there’s no one right scent for creating the perfect ambiance. Spas that focus more on stress management may want to choose powerful scents that decrease cortisol levels such as jasmine or geranium. Those that focus more on rejuvenating the mind and body can try refreshing mint scents of green tea. Again, location also plays a role, so the scent should match the spa’s brand and interior.

Scents for Gyms

Carefully chosen scents can help gym owners boost membership sign-ups and keep existing customers coming back. Focus on invigorating scents like citrus or peppermint for workout areas and consider more welcoming fragrances like cardamom or rosemary for reception areas. Notes of lemon can also help to convey an impression of cleanliness in locker rooms. Gyms and fitness centers are somewhat of an exception to the rule when it comes to consistent scent branding, as they have different areas devoted to specific activities and can benefit most from more diverse aromas.

Scents for Financial Institutions

Banks and other financial institutions tend to use peaceful, mellow scents to help counteract the stress many customers associate with handling their finances. Bank owners will need to consider their clientele. Elite financial institutions often opt for scents associated with luxury and opulence like leather or bourbon, while more commonplace banks may include more accessible notes of citrus or rosemary.

Scents for Bars and Clubs

Choosing the right scents for bars and clubs can be a challenge. Covering unpleasant aromas like strong alcohol scents from the bar and sweat from the dance floor needs to be weighed against the desire to create a uniquely branded scent. For dance clubs, choose invigorating scent blends that will get patrons up and moving and extend their nights out. For lounges and bars with a more refined clientele, opt for scents like bourbon and vanilla.

Scents for Restaurants

The smell of delicious food will stimulate any dinner patron’s appetite. Unfortunately, the scents coming from even the best kitchen won’t be evenly distributed across the dining room, and they won’t always blend well to create the desired effect. Restaurant owners can use scent diffusers to gain more control over what kinds of appetizing aromas waft toward patrons as they enter the door.

Creating Signature Scent Blends

For some business owners, off-the-shelf aroma oil blends will do just fine. Those that want to use scent marketing to help define a brand’s identity and increase both awareness and memory will need to go one step further. They’ll need to create memorable signature scent blends that could only be associated in customers’ minds with their favorite store, restaurant, or hotel chain.

Creating signature scent blends requires attention to detail and a deep understanding of consumer behaviors. It’s usually best to work with an aroma oil supplier that can create custom blends. All business owners have to do is provide the company with some basic information like what industry they work in and what they are trying to accomplish with their scent marketing campaigns. From there, the experts will handle the development process and, once the signature blend is approved, send the customer fresh bottles each month as needed.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Scent

As technologies and consumer behaviors change, conventional marketing techniques go in and out of favor. The same can’t be said for scent marketing. This unique form of marketing goes straight to the source when it comes to consumer behavior, imparting powerful subconscious brand associations that can improve customer experience, employee satisfaction, and, most importantly, the company’s bottom line.

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