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More than once you will have been seduced by the smell of fresh bread as you walk down the street. A few meters further on you discover a bakery and the impulse to enter becomes difficult to avoid.
What you may not know is that many times it is not the “real” smell of fresh bread, but a device that spreads an artificial aroma to increase sales.
It’s called “olfactory marketing”.
It is a market that has developed vertiginously in the last decade and that has different fields of action: there are companies dedicated to selling diffusers of artificial flavors to be used in stores; others impregnate products or packages; and others – more sophisticated – create smells that are associated with a particular brand.
One of the recognized researchers in this area, Eric R. Spangenberg, of the University of California at Irvine (UCI), assures that it is a beneficial practice for companies, provided that they find the “correct” aroma, that is, that it fits the profile of the client they are looking for
One of the studies he carried out concluded that consumers exposed to an adequate aroma spent 20% more in a store. The key is to use simple fragrances , he says.
After consulting with several experts in this field, at Rava we show you seven examples of artificial scents used by different companies to attract customers.
1 . Natural leather in plastic items
This is an extended practice among manufacturers of synthetic leather that is used in clothing or furniture, such as sofas.
Although they do not say in the labeling that the product is leather, they add an artificial smell to it that positively influences the buyer.
2 . Wood in Rolls-Royce cars
When the luxury car company Rolls-Royce replaced pieces of wood inside their vehicles, it ran into customer dissatisfaction.
After several inquiries, they realized that the fundamental reason was that the car no longer smelled of wood.
To solve it, they then incorporated the artificial aroma of the wood with the aim that modern versions of the product would maintain the sensory experience of handling a Rolls-Royce exactly as it was before.
3 . Christmas trees
Whether natural or artificial, some of the Christmas pines include a tree scent that generates customer satisfaction.
The same happens with stores when the Christmas season arrives : companies use scents that people can associate with that date -which vary according to each cultural context- and that cause a pleasant experience.
4 . Popcorn in theaters
Although one might think that the smell of popcorn is completely natural in a movie theater, there are chains that use artificial flavors to encourage people to come to the stores.
Especially in those complexes that are very large, companies are concerned about circulating the smell, since a significant part of their income comes from the purchase of this product and soft drinks.
5 . Coffee in gas station stores
Many of the gas stations have incorporated stores with food services while using an artificial smell to increase coffee sales.
Something that surprisingly is not a usual practice in stores recognized for selling quality coffee , because they tend to be small and the smell of coffee that is made at the time floods the place.
6 . Chocolate in candy stores
In large sweetshops, where obviously the products are not manufactured, the artificial smell of chocolate has been incorporated as an essential strategy for people – and especially children – to buy more products.
7 . Fresh bread made in bakeries
Here we find the most classic example: the artificial smell of bread fresh from the oven .
Those who have studied the topic of olfactory marketing, argue that smells work associated with memories and operate, sometimes, unconsciously.
In the case of bread, in many people it evokes the idea of childhood, of the family home, or simply opens their appetite.
Similar techniques are used by supermarkets in various sections that go beyond their bakeries, such as the smell of fruit in the fresh produce section.
However, olfactory marketing can generate adverse effects.
If different scents are mixed in one place, the potential advantages are reduced or even canceled.
Olfactory marketing associated with a brand
There are large companies that have developed odors specifically created to associate them with a brand .
It is the “perfume of a brand” that generates a more complete sensory experience, according to the experts consulted by BBC.
As well as corporate colors or music, the smell is playing an important role in the construction of a brand, especially in the luxury market .
“The nose is as important as the eyes when choosing, to value products or an environment, to make decisions and to remember,” says Olivia Jezler, Executive Director of Future of Smell.
“Our sense of smell is the only sense that establishes a direct link between our emotions and memory,” he adds.
“The sensory experience of brands helps create loyalty and, therefore, increases the sales of companies.”
Olfactory marketing is not restricted to tangible products.
It has also entered strongly in the field of aircraft , hotels, gyms, or clothing stores; especially in those brands whose market segment targets consumers with higher incomes.
The pioneer in the aviation industry was Singapore Airlines , which impregnated a specific odor in the cleaning wipes that are distributed to travelers. Many other airlines have followed the steps in order to have a single aroma associated with their brand.
Other well-known examples are the Jimmy Choo shoes and the Nike shoes ; hotel chains such as Westin and Hilton Doubletree and even the smell of the British toy store Hamleys, which in summer used the aroma of pina colada because it makes parents feel more comfortable buying with their children.