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Leverage the Power of Scent in Your Business

May 26th 2023

Scents and odors can have a significant impact on our perception of companies and brands. In fact, research has shown that scent marketing can be used to increase brand loyalty and sales. Meaning, adding a pleasing smell can help create a positive customer experience that leads to higher sales.

This realization was driven home last weekend when I returned to my Doubletree hotel room after housekeeping had been by. As I opened the door, I immediately smelled a hint of refreshing mint. It wasn’t overpowering and it signaled to me that the room had been cleaned; even without seeing the bed remade or the trash cans emptied. That is the power of scent.

Similarly, anyone who has walked past a Cinnabon in a mall food court understands the powerful impact scent can have on your mood and purchase intent. Cinnabon uses scent to its advantage by pumping out the aromas from its kitchens to draw hungry shoppers in. Baking cinnamon and brown sugar on cookie sheets in its ovens, which are placed at the front of the store space, with the weakest hoods ever (to allow the aroma to easily escape) are some of the tactics the company expertly uses to boost sales.

Cinnabon is considered a pioneer in the scent marketing industry, which is currently estimated to be worth $200 million.

Fortunately, you don’t need to run a restaurant, perfumery, or candle shop to make sure of enticing scents in your company, but you should think about how to add scent to your operations. Here are three reasons why:

Increasing time spent in-store

Research has found that the more time a customer spends in a retail business, the more they will spend. This metric is called “dwell” time, or how long they linger. Your challenge is to keep customers lingering as long as possible.

The Food Marketing Institute, for example, reports that shoppers spend, on average, $2.17 per minute on groceries. Given this, the more time spent shopping, the higher that final bill for food. The key to selling more is simply keeping them in the store (which may explain some store layouts).

One way is to provide a pleasing scent, preferably one that causes them to relax and feel good at the same time.

According to Shopify, common scents used inside businesses include:

  • Florals, which “encourage buyers to linger in your store”
  • Fresh linen, which enhances the sensation of cleanliness
  • Lavender, which triggers relaxation
  • Leather, which “evokes a feeling of luxury and opulence”
  • Vanilla, which is a mood enhancer

But scents aren’t only effective in retail settings. Adding a scent to a waiting room, restroom, and office can also yield positive results, helping the customer recall the pleasant experience long after they’ve left.

Increasing sales

A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Marketing reported that the presence of a pleasing scent increased customer intent to purchase by up to 84% in a project for Nike. In that same study, participants were found to be willing to pay 10% to 15% more for scented products when they compared shoes with a citrusy scent and those without any detectable scent.

When a pleasing scent is added to the buying mix, helping improve customers’ moods and outlook, the more likely they are to buy and the more they can end up buying. Both of which help generate higher sales levels.

Increased customer lifetime value (CLV)

Since scent is linked to memory and a positive response to scent can increase the likelihood of a purchase, the amount that one customer spends in their lifetime on a particular product will be higher if they connect it to a positive memory. The higher the amount spent, coupled with a higher frequency of purchase, can have a sizeable affect on the bottom line.

According to Cececa Scents, “People are 100 times more likely to remember something they smell over something they hear, see, or touch.” So, by infusing your workspace, retail space, restaurant, or vehicle with a pleasing scent, the more likely your customer is to remember their positive experience doing business with you.


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