Sales & Marketing

The importance of scent marketing for retail and hospitality sectors

4 min read

24 February 2016

Over half of consumers say they love their favourite stores due to its ambience – placing multi-sensory cues such as design, fragrance, lighting and music above good service from friendly staff.

When it comes to the retail and hospitality sectors, ICM’s latest report showed there was a high demand for a fragrant experience, with 74 per cent of shoppers saying they had been impulsively drawn to a store due to its smell. Some 90 per cent of consumers also claimed to either walk out of a store or speed up their browsing if they didn’t like the smell inside it. 

Similarly, in a hotel, 77 per cent of consumers said a pleasant smell had a positive impact on them, while 43 per cent said they would regret or reconsider checking in if they noticed an overpowering smell.

According to professor Charles Spence of Oxford University, as consumers, our brains monitor the inputs from all our senses in order to make sense of the world. As such, there has been a rise in businesses looking to understand neuroscience. 

Read more about the tricks that could see you retain and attract more customers in-store:

“New technologies around effective scent dispersal means there has never been a better time for hotels and stores to consider developing a brand through the use of scent and other multi-sensory marketing strategies,” he said. “It is, however, important to remember that harmony is key – the right scent should correspond with its surroundings and be congruent with our other senses. Based on research, I am convinced of scent’s role as a powerful means of communication with one’s customers no matter what the business.” 

The research found smell is the top rated stimuli for triggering a memory or feeling (73 per cent), highlighting the positive impact it can play in creating a connection between a brand and consumer. As bosses focus on how to evolve their models to attract more customers and retain them both online and in a physical environment, the new research demonstrates the significant role scenting can play.

Christophe Laudamiel, master perfumer for PremiumScenting with AirQ, said: “Our sense of smell is as important a tool as our vision for informing us about our surroundings. We use it to make crucial judgements about a space, its people, and merchandise even if we don’t always realise we’re doing so. Scent is uniquely three dimensional and has the ability to holistically tie all other design elements together and infuse soul into a space, in a discreet or memorable way. 

“It is therefore no surprise that scentscaping is increasingly being used in the retail and hospitality industries to enhance consumer feelings of trust, relaxation or their enjoyment of brand quality.”

Similarly, earlier researchers have claimed that people remember 35 per cent of what they smell, compared with only five per cent of what they see, two per cent of what they hear and one per cent of what they touch. So, scent makes a brand identity more unique, strengthens customer loyalty and adds to the perception of quality.