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

What number of occasions have you ever been strolling down the road, or by means of 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 have been hungry—you obtain it as a result of it smelled good.

That’s scent advertising in motion.

person drinking coffee imagining a cafe terrace
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Scent advertising, put merely, is utilizing scents to draw folks to a model or product. It connects with patrons in methods visible, audio and other forms of promoting merely can’t: by means of their noses.

What’s scent advertising?

Scent advertising is using scents to draw patrons and drive them to make purchases. Like all other forms of promoting, it goals to create an emotional reference to potential patrons.

Scent advertising isn’t fairly the identical factor as scent branding. Branding suits into advertising 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 along with your model. Advertising is broader—it’s all of the stuff you do to make folks conscious of your model, drive them to interact along with your model and, in the end, purchase issues out of your model.

On the subject of scents, scent branding typically entails the event of a signature scent and making that scent the olfactory model of a emblem. For an ecommerce model, spraying all packing materials with a signature scent so it’s the very first thing the customer experiences once they unbox their order is an instance of scent branding.

Scent branding additionally entails 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 might be bizarre if McDonald’s smelled like vanilla, proper? At McDonald’s, you anticipate 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—is likely to be the right tone-setter for a spa or an surroundings that may use some de-stressing, just like the motorcar 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 surroundings.

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 out to be as a lot of a product’s characteristic because the product’s precise options. Packaging design by maxponto

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

An aroma billboard is a daring, un-ignorable scent that’s like a billboard on your nostril. Cinnabon is legendary for utilizing aroma billboard advertising. 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 scent 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. Usually, fragrance and different well being and sweetness 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 scent 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
By way of National Geographic

Ambient scent advertising is much like thematic scenting in that it’s the strategic use of nice scents in business areas. The distinction is that whereas thematic scenting is using a deliberate, daring scent associated to a model, ambient scenting is the subtler use of scents within the surroundings to change how patrons really feel. This may very well be the faint scent of honey and lemon to suggest freshness in an natural meals retailer or the scent of vanilla to extend college students’ moods in a tutoring heart.

To efficiently pull this off, analysis the totally different feelings and vibes particular scents set off once they’re inhaled. Identical to totally different colours evoke totally different feelings, different scents have specific impacts. For instance, a lemon scent may be energizing, making it a fantastic alternative for a health club. 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’ workplaces.

You aren’t restricted to utilizing only one type of scent advertising. 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 branding targets when figuring out the best approach to make use of the facility of scent to attach with folks.

How does scent advertising work?

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

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

Muji diffusers on display in a Muji store
Picture by way of Boston Magazine
Abercrombie Fierce cologne
That is why you possibly can scent Abercrombie from throughout the mall. Picture by way of Abercrombie

For some manufacturers, synthetic scents are the best method to create an surroundings that connects with prospects. Shops that use signature fragrances, like Abercrombie & Fitch, typically spray this scent and even pump it by means of their air flow methods.

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

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

Why is scent advertising efficient?

Our sense of scent is our oldest sense. It developed from the rudimentary senses our microscopic evolutionary ancestors used to react to chemical substances of their environments.

It’s additionally our strongest sense. And if you happen to’ve heard that scent 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 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 photos with about 50 % accuracy. However a 12 months after being uncovered to a scent, they’ll recall the scent with 65 % accuracy
  • Scent advertising can improve a retail retailer’s gross sales by 11 % and improve buyer satisfaction by 20 %
  • Harvard Enterprise Overview discovered that emotionally connected buyers are 52 percent more valuable to a model than patrons 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 patrons are 84 % more likely to make purchases in a scented environment than in a non-scented surroundings
  • Not solely that, however Nike’s analysis discovered that patrons 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 seems like an understatement.

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

Scent advertising is immersion advertising, which signifies that it performs a task in constructing an surroundings that markets a model’s services or products to potential patrons. Working scent advertising into your enterprise surroundings could be a method to market to prospects with out overwhelming them with photos and sounds. Give it some thought—if you happen to’re sitting in a restaurant, which of those sounds essentially the most nice?

  • Listening to a brief jingle in regards to the restaurant’s scrumptious dinner rolls over the sound system each couple of minutes
  • Seeing images 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 examples in motion

We’ve talked about a couple of manufacturers which are well-known for utilizing scent advertising, like Cinnabon and Burger King. Listed below are a couple of extra fast examples of how well-known manufacturers harness the facility of scent:


You’ll be able to scent this picture:

interior shot of a Starbucks
Picture by way of Starbucks

Starbucks takes a two-pronged method to scent advertising. Not solely do the scents of freshly floor beans and scorching espresso drinks permeate from behind the counter all through the store; they really add a espresso scent to their retailer HVAC methods to make the scent even stronger. That is partially to make it unimaginable 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

what a brand new automotive smells like. It has that “new automotive” scent…that distinct scent that you just solely expertise in a brand new automotive, and the one vocabulary you need to describe it’s “new automotive scent.” And if you happen to’ve ever been in a brand new automotive, you possibly can scent this image too:

interior of a Rolls Royce
Picture by way of MotorBiscuit

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


Visiting a Disney park may be magically overwhelming as a result of at each flip, the surroundings 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 machine referred to 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 scent alongside Important Avenue USA to make company really feel hungry and purchase meals

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

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

Scents immerse us in particular locations (and in some instances, occasions). You’ll be able to capitalize on this by utilizing scents which have a robust emotional impression 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 patrons by means of scents that deliver 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?

Can any model profit from utilizing scent advertising?


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

For baked items and low manufacturers, scent advertising is a no brainer. The truth is, scent advertising is usually a good 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
Brand design by InQueen

However for sure sorts of meals manufacturers, scent advertising isn’t the best way to go…or not less than, the scent of your meals isn’t the best way to go. Take into consideration how a fantastic seafood restaurant smells. Not like fish, proper? If it’s a sushi place, essentially the most outstanding scent is likely to be rice vinegar. Or if it’s one other type of seafood restaurant, you may wish to scent heat, buttery biscuits or the cool salt air from the waterfront patio. You don’t wish to scent something “fishy” in any respect.

If you happen to provide one thing else that doesn’t have a scent, like software program or medicine, scent advertising may not be the suitable name on your model, both. However don’t assume that scent advertising must be the particular scent of your product to be able to be efficient. In a health care provider’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 holding one particular scent product stocked always. Product label design by Julia S.

Equally, you possibly can leverage patrons’ optimistic associations with sure scents to make your merchandise extra engaging. Bloomingdales, a US-based division retailer, embraces this technique by utilizing scents all through the shop:

  • The scent 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, ask your self the next questions:

  • How do folks 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. If it’s “no,” that doesn’t imply scent advertising 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 perhaps the refined scent of cedar or heat, spicy aromas that remind diners of a high-quality whiskey are the right method to construct optimistic model associations
  • What sorts of cultural associations does my model faucet into? Once more, assume outdoors the field—perhaps you’re a images studio that focuses on household portraits. The scent of recent chocolate chip cookies all through your studio could make it scent like residence (and encourage households to come back again 12 months after 12 months, making their picture session a practice)
  • The place do folks work together along 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 possibly can’t use scent advertising by way of your web site, social media or on-line advertisements and occasions (but—who is aware of what future know-how will deliver?) But when there’s any in-person contact along with your model, like unboxing your product or interacting along with your crew at a promotional occasion, there’s a chance so that you can make scent advertising 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 will’t enable you develop a model id that simply incorporates a signature scent. Your model id is your model’s complete, holistic appear and feel. It’s every part you utilize to speak, out of your emblem to your shade 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 will help you with.

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