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Retail design and customer experience: Scent is the missing ingredient [Video]

Part 2 of our customer experience series. In part 1, we learned how color can build customer loyalty.

Customers will follow their noses, if the scent is right. Though we may not realize it, our sense of smell helps us recall memories, make new mental connections and interpret our surroundings. As part of the shopping experience, pleasant scents can create a more positive customer experience, driving sales and building brand familiarity.

Scent’s powerful effect on memory

Nobel Prize winning research has shown that humans are capable of recalling over 10,000 unique smells. Not only can we identify these stimuli, but in recalling the smell, we tend to remember an associated emotion.

Every individual has his or her perceptions of common smells, but scent marketing experts have discovered how to appeal to a general consumer audience. By triggering pleasant associations with an unobtrusive scent, retailers can enhance customers’ perceptions of the store brand.

It’s not magic. Nobel Prize winners Richard Axel and Linda Buck reported the olfactory system – our sense of smell – helps people detect qualities which are regarded as positive. For example, a person can determine the difference between ripe and overripe berries. The olfactory system also warns us of danger – the smell of smoke, for example, alerts us to the presence of fire.

In the retail world, brands can leverage scents to help shoppers create positive connections between a fondly remembered scent and a good customer experience.

Scent marketing in action

Major brands across the world have used scent marketing to boost sales. According to Scent Marketing Institute co-president Steven Semoff, speaking with The Independent, Nike increased customer intent to purchase by 80 percent after adding unique scents to its stores.

Semoff also reported that a convenience store chain boosted its coffee sales by 300 percent after it used a coffee-scented aroma at its locations. Clearly scent marketing is a strategy that all retailers should consider.

How to use a scent system in your store

A scent system requires little setup and can augment your other retail design strategies instantly. Whether your store has been around for years or you’re bringing an online experience into the real world, scent should be a featured component of your brand.

We offer affordable scent systems that you can place strategically around your store. A smaller shop may only need one scent cube by the register, while a larger area may require the 3-in-1 Pro Scent Machine, which you can mount on a wall or connect to an HVAC system.

To make choosing your store’s aroma easier, we offer free sample strips of all our scents. From bergamot vanilla to winter pine, you’re sure to discover a scent that complements your brand aesthetic.