Odor that? Scent advertising and marketing is your model’s invisible secret weapon

What number of occasions have you ever been strolling down the road, or via a mall, or from one finish of an airport to a different, and impulsively purchased a pastry? We’d wager a guess you didn’t purchase it since you had been hungry—to procure it as a result of it smelled good.

That’s scent advertising and marketing in motion.

person drinking coffee imagining a cafe terrace
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Scent advertising and marketing, put merely, is utilizing scents to draw individuals to a model or product. It connects with consumers in methods visible, audio and different kinds of promoting merely can’t: via their noses.

What’s scent advertising and marketing?

Scent advertising and marketing is the usage of scents to draw consumers and drive them to make purchases. Like all different kinds of promoting, it goals to create an emotional reference to potential consumers.

Scent advertising and marketing isn’t fairly the identical factor as scent branding. Branding matches into advertising and marketing as a particular technique—particularly, the technique of creating a transparent, cohesive model id and making that model id an intrinsic a part of each interplay together with your model. Advertising is broader—it’s all of the stuff you do to make individuals conscious of your model, drive them to have interaction together with your model and, finally, purchase issues out of your model.

In relation to scents, scent branding usually includes the event of a signature scent and making that scent the olfactory model of a brand. For an ecommerce model, spraying all packing materials with a signature scent so it’s the very first thing the client experiences after they unbox their order is an instance of scent branding.

Scent branding additionally includes figuring out which scents a model ought to use to attach with their goal clientele and talk their model values and gives—very like a brand chooses a color palette based on what will most effectively connect with their buyers and express the brand’s personality. For instance, it will be bizarre if McDonald’s smelled like vanilla, proper? At McDonald’s, you count on salty, savory meals served up shortly and conveniently.

A vanilla scent hanging above the plastic tables and counters would really feel misplaced, however that very same scent—a scent that’s been demonstrated to cut back nervousness and evoke a way of calmness—may be the proper tone-setter for a spa or an setting that may use some de-stressing, just like the motorized vehicle division ready room. Some manufacturers do each, crafting a signature scent and utilizing ambient scents of their places to make the branded expertise extra immersive. Others don’t have a signature scent, however use a number of particular, non-branded scents of their areas to equally create that immersive setting.

black and white box, multiple images showing the product in and out of boxes and the packaging itself
Within the period of ecommerce, unboxing has turn into as a lot of a product’s characteristic because the product’s precise options. Packaging design by maxponto

Scent advertising and marketing, however, can (and does) embody scent branding, but in addition incorporates branded scents into issues like aroma billboards, signature scents, thematic scenting and ambient scent advertising and marketing.

An aroma billboard is a daring, un-ignorable scent that’s like a billboard to your nostril. Cinnabon is known for utilizing aroma billboard advertising and marketing. They do it by positioning their ovens towards the entrance of their shops to entice potential prospects.

Signature scents are proprietary scents that manufacturers use of their areas and merchandise to increase the model id to the olfactory degree. Consider Burger King’s char-broiled burger odor that permeates each Burger King restaurant throughout the globe. Signature scents can be utilized as aroma billboards, as ambient scents and as a key a part of branding particular merchandise. Typically, fragrance and different well being and wonder merchandise make use of signature scents.

image of black grill grates with flames poking throgh
Burger King’s signature scent is so recognizable that they reference it in print and audio advertisements. Picture by way of Burger King Maldives

Thematic scenting is the technique of giving bodily areas and areas inside areas a notable scent. Singapore Airways did this with their signature scent, Stefan Floridian Waters. That is the odor that greets you any time you’re on a Singapore Airways airplane; It’s sprayed onto the new towels flight attendants give to passengers to counteract the stale scent of airplane cabin.

Singapore airlines
Through National Geographic

Ambient scent advertising and marketing is just like thematic scenting in that it’s the strategic use of nice scents in business areas. The distinction is that whereas thematic scenting is the usage of a deliberate, daring scent associated to a model, ambient scenting is the subtler use of scents within the setting to change how consumers really feel. This could possibly be the faint scent of honey and lemon to indicate freshness in an natural meals retailer or the scent of vanilla to extend college students’ moods in a tutoring middle.

To efficiently pull this off, analysis the totally different feelings and vibes particular scents set off after they’re inhaled. Similar to totally different colours evoke totally different feelings, different scents have specific impacts. For instance, a lemon scent will be energizing, making it an incredible alternative for a gymnasium. Cinnamon, dill, and allspice are among the many scents that may evoke a way of fabric success, making them excellent scent decisions for investing corporations, banks and coaches’ places of work.

You aren’t restricted to utilizing only one sort of scent advertising and marketing. You may develop a signature scent and use it as an aroma billboard, otherwise you may put that signature scent to work as thematic scenting. Take into consideration your general advertising and marketing and branding objectives when figuring out the simplest method to make use of the facility of scent to attach with individuals.

How does scent advertising and marketing work?

Firms do scent advertising and marketing each artificially and naturally. Manufacturers that depend on their merchandise’ sturdy scents, like espresso and meals manufacturers, don’t have to artificially create engaging smells—merely roasting beans and cooking meals creates the scent they want to attract consumers in and make them need their merchandise.

Different methods to do pure scent advertising and marketing are to burn candles and diffuse important oils in retail environments. Muji is one well-known model that makes use of aromatherapy diffusers to take care of a pleasant-smelling setting of their shops.

Muji diffusers on display in a Muji store
Picture by way of Boston Magazine
Abercrombie Fierce cologne
For this reason you may odor Abercrombie from throughout the mall. Picture by way of Abercrombie

For some manufacturers, synthetic scents are the simplest strategy to create an setting that connects with prospects. Shops that use signature fragrances, like Abercrombie & Fitch, usually spray this scent and even pump it via their air flow programs.

To buyers, these scents create model recognition. Typically, this recognition is immediate—what number of occasions have you ever been strolling via a shopping center and smelled Abercrombie earlier than you noticed it?

Constructing a delightful odor into your model doesn’t simply facilitate model recognition; it creates optimistic associations between consumers and the model. Recognizability creates model consciousness, and nice associations create model loyalty.

Why is scent advertising and marketing efficient?

Our sense of odor is our oldest sense. It advanced from the rudimentary senses our microscopic evolutionary ancestors used to react to chemical compounds of their environments.

It’s additionally our strongest sense. And when you’ve heard that odor is linked with reminiscence, right here’s why: the olfactory cortex, the processing construction of the olfactory system, sits within the mind’s frontal lobe. This is identical space of the mind that controls feelings and reminiscence.

illustration of the olfactory system
Picture by way of BioCycle

That is why scent advertising and marketing is so highly effective. And over the a long time, quite a few manufacturers and researchers have produced stats to again this up:

  • After three months, people can recall photographs with about 50 % accuracy. However a 12 months after being uncovered to a odor, they will recall the scent with 65 % accuracy
  • Scent advertising and marketing can enhance a retail retailer’s gross sales by 11 % and enhance buyer satisfaction by 20 %
  • Harvard Enterprise Evaluation discovered that emotionally connected buyers are 52 percent more valuable to a model than consumers who’re merely “glad”
  • People are 100 times more likely to remember a scent than a sound, picture or contact
  • 75 % of our every day feelings are pushed by scent
  • Nike discovered that consumers are 84 % more likely to make purchases in a scented environment than in a non-scented setting
  • Not solely that, however Nike’s analysis discovered that consumers in scented environments are prepared to pay 10 to twenty % extra for merchandise than they’re in non-scented environments

With these stats, highly effective virtually feels like an understatement.

photo of a Jimmy John’s featuring the “FREE SMELLS” sign
Picture by way of Trip Advisor

Scent advertising and marketing is immersion advertising and marketing, which signifies that it performs a job in constructing an setting that markets a model’s services or products to potential consumers. Working scent advertising and marketing into your enterprise setting could be a strategy to market to prospects with out overwhelming them with photographs and sounds. Give it some thought—when you’re sitting in a restaurant, which of those sounds essentially the most nice?

  • Listening to a brief jingle concerning the restaurant’s scrumptious dinner rolls over the sound system each jiffy
  • Seeing pictures of the dinner rolls on every menu and placemat
  • Smelling the scent of dinner rolls each time a server passes by with a basket of them

Scent advertising and marketing examples in motion

We’ve talked about just a few manufacturers which might be well-known for utilizing scent advertising and marketing, like Cinnabon and Burger King. Listed here are just a few extra fast examples of how well-known manufacturers harness the facility of odor:


You’ll be able to odor this picture:

interior shot of a Starbucks
Picture by way of Starbucks

Starbucks takes a two-pronged method to scent advertising and marketing. Not solely do the scents of freshly floor beans and sizzling espresso drinks permeate from behind the counter all through the store; they really add a espresso odor to their retailer HVAC programs to make the odor even stronger. That is partially to make it not possible for everyone in shut proximity to disregard the Starbucks and partially to mask the smell of their non-coffee products, like egg sandwiches.

Rolls Royce

You already know what a brand new automobile smells like. It has that “new automobile” odor…that distinct odor that you just solely expertise in a brand new automobile, and the one vocabulary you need to describe it’s “new automobile odor.” And when you’ve ever been in a brand new automobile, you may odor this image too:

interior of a Rolls Royce
Picture by way of MotorBiscuit

Rolls Royce capitalizes on that odor by refreshing it each time a buyer brings their automobile in for service. It’s virtually like resetting your automobile each time you get it serviced.


Visiting a Disney park will be magically overwhelming as a result of at each flip, the setting is optimized to activate just about every one of your senses. For the olfactory part of this sensory assault, Disney makes use of a proprietary patented gadget generally known as a Smellitizer.

photo of a pink and white candy shop window
See the ornamental circles within the paneling beneath every window? These are smellitizers. Picture by way of All Ears

Just a few key examples of this are:

  • The scent of popcorn close to the parks’ entrance gates
  • Vanilla odor alongside Foremost Road USA to make visitors really feel hungry and purchase meals

Disney additionally makes use of scents to inform their points of interest’ tales, like:

  • The odor of previous wooden and salt air in Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Musty previous home odor within the Haunted Mansion

Scents immerse us in particular locations (and in some circumstances, occasions). You’ll be able to capitalize on this through the use of scents which have a robust emotional influence in your viewers, even scents that transport them someplace apart from your retailer. Magic Candle Firm, a retail model that solely operates on-line, connects with consumers via scents that carry them again to memorable holidays:

six promotional images, each for a specific candle scent
Picture by way of Magic Candle Company

What sorts of manufacturers can (and will) use scent advertising and marketing?

Can any model profit from utilizing scent advertising and marketing?


In case your product has a well-recognized, comforting odor, undoubtedly make that scent a part of your advertising and marketing technique. Take into consideration how Cinnabon does it—their cinnamon rolls odor superb, so after all that odor is a large advertising and marketing draw. Starbucks, too—shut your eyes and picture you’re in a Starbucks proper now. What are you experiencing? Extra particularly, what do you odor?

For baked items and low manufacturers, scent advertising and marketing is a no brainer. In actual fact, scent advertising and marketing is mostly an effective way to go for many meals and beverage manufacturers—notably manufacturers that supply up sweets and baked items.

candy shop logo and sprinkles against a pink background
Emblem design by InQueen

However for sure sorts of meals manufacturers, scent advertising and marketing isn’t the way in which to go…or a minimum of, the scent of your meals isn’t the way in which to go. Take into consideration how an incredible seafood restaurant smells. Not like fish, proper? If it’s a sushi place, essentially the most distinguished odor may be rice vinegar. Or if it’s one other sort of seafood restaurant, you may wish to odor heat, buttery biscuits or the cool salt air from the waterfront patio. You don’t wish to odor something “fishy” in any respect.

In case you provide one thing else that doesn’t have a odor, like software program or treatment, scent advertising and marketing may not be the appropriate name to your model, both. However don’t assume that scent advertising and marketing needs to be the precise scent of your product with the intention to be efficient. In a physician’s workplace, for instance, the scent of lavender within the ready room may soothe sufferers and make them really feel extra relaxed earlier than heading in for his or her appointments.

recycled packaging mulling spices cup
Typically, constructing a optimistic scent affiliation means maintaining one particular scent product stocked always. Product label design by Julia S.

Equally, you may leverage consumers’ optimistic associations with sure scents to make your merchandise extra engaging. Bloomingdales, a US-based division retailer, embraces this technique through the use of scents all through the shop:

  • The odor of coconuts within the swimwear part
  • Powder scents within the child garments part
  • Lilac scents within the lingerie part

To find out whether or not your model can profit from scent advertising and marketing, ask your self the next questions:

  • How do individuals understand the scent of my product? Is it a scent they wouldn’t thoughts smelling for a chronic interval or clinging to their clothes?
    • If the reply to the second query is “sure,” go forward and lean into overt scent advertising and marketing. If it’s “no,” that doesn’t imply scent advertising and marketing is essentially off the desk…however that your product’s scent isn’t the one to make use of. Think about a steakhouse. Steak on the grill smells nice. Steak in your shirt, hours after the meal? Not a lot. However possibly the delicate scent of cedar or heat, spicy aromas that remind diners of a positive whiskey are the proper strategy to construct optimistic model associations
  • What sorts of cultural associations does my model faucet into? Once more, assume exterior the field—possibly you’re a pictures studio that makes a speciality of household portraits. The scent of recent chocolate chip cookies all through your studio could make it odor like dwelling (and encourage households to return again 12 months after 12 months, making their photograph session a convention)
  • The place do individuals work together together with your model? Contemplate all of the contact factors:
    • Retail retailer
    • Your web site
    • Unboxing
    • On-line and in-person occasions
    • On-line and offline advertisements

To the ultimate level, you may’t use scent advertising and marketing by way of your web site, social media or on-line advertisements and occasions (but—who is aware of what future expertise will carry?) But when there’s any in-person contact together with your model, like unboxing your product or interacting together with your workforce at a promotional occasion, there’s a chance so that you can make scent advertising and marketing a part of your technique.

Get a design that doesn’t stink

99designs doesn’t provide scent design companies, however that doesn’t imply we are able to’t enable you to develop a model id that simply incorporates a signature scent. Your model id is your model’s complete, holistic feel and look. It’s every part you employ to speak, out of your brand to your coloration palette to your copy voice, and the way these belongings work collectively to form how the world perceives you and your provide. That’s one thing we might help you with.

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