Burt M. Polson | Napa Valley and Vallejo's Commercial Real Estate Broker

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The Scent of Money

Has this ever happened to you? You go to the mall and are drawn by the smell of cinnamon rolls. Or, you dine at a well-known chain Italian restaurant and are overwhelmed by the smell of sourdough bread sticks. 

Sensory branding is the overall experience retailers create by the use of colors, music and scent all to get customers more connected to their brands. Retailers are very interested in how the senses play a role in creating the perfect atmosphere for you to buy and to keep coming back.

The use of smell in the sensory experience is a growing trend as it provides for a higher connection in the brain linked to our emotions. It is still not understood how the brain connects certain experiences to smells, but think back to your childhood and the smell of a certain food and how it recalls memories.

This is called olfactive branding and is the next sensory becoming a part of the experience many retailers are targeting with their customers. 

There are several companies who specialize in setting up self-contained scent atomizers or computer-controlled units as part of the air-condition system. ScentAir, Air Aroma or 12.29 have olfactive branding clients with names you recognize: Hilton Hotels, Bloomingdales, AnyTime Fitness, Carnival Cruises. 

Dunkin’ Donut discovered the smell of fresh coffee increased bakery sales as well as Starbucks with coffee and Mrs. Fields Cookies with the smell of baking cookies.

Our senses have a direct connection to our unconscious - especially the sense of smell and retailers are banking on this. You happen to be in the baby department of a store and feel all warm and cozy towards babies from the emotional trigger and spend a little more money. Or, you are shopping for clothes, smell coconut and suddenly have new swim trunks or bikini.

Scents are not only used to promote a product. Retailers, restaurants, hotels and clubs use scents to create an environment conducive of their branding along with the emotions and feelings they would like to instill in their customers.

For example, Nike increased intent-to-purchase measures by 80 per cent by adding scents to their stores. A mini-mart in a gas station used the smell of coffee throughout and increased purchases by 300 per cent. 

A casino offers free drinks to keep you gambling, department stores place the restrooms in the remote part of the store to be sure you pass as much of their merchandise a possible. Fine restaurants find that by not using dollars signs and cents in their menu prices increased sales. Dispersing the scent of cinnamon rolls or bread through a store implies that those smells come from the products being sold, which is not the case. Is this deceit and manipulation? What do you think? Leave your comments below.

An ACRES Real Estate Services, Inc. Company