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How to emotionally connect to your customers through scent


Consumers And Bricks And Mortar Brands

While a brick and mortar store can be simply defined as a place where consumers go to buy things, it is so much more than that. Originally, the term referred to any commercial enterprise that has at least one physical location where customers can visit. The idea for differentiation arose in response to the enormous surge of internet-based businesses over the course of the last two decades where customers could only access online. A brick-and-mortar store always sells goods and services directly to customers. Some examples of this type of operation include: coffee shops, banks, grocery stores, and clothing outlets, furniture and appliance electronics, hardware, grocers, restaurants and night clubs to name a few. These types of retail enterprises can expand in either direction as either an online venue or a physical storefront or both. Brick and mortar brands have been forced to alter their retail landscapes and abandon their advertising priorities of yesteryear, which means nurturing a new focus on the products themselves. These brands can no longer depend upon the power of digital glitz and glamour to set them apart from their competitors. Today’s consumers have high expectations. They seek shopping locales that satisfy their preferences for time-saving and convenience, two trends promoted by millennials and their penchant for physical interaction over material things. Visual trappings in the form of glaring ads, catchy songs and slogans and colorful, fanciful celebrity-endorsed products and labels no longer captivate and ensnare the modern consumer the way they once did. Retailers depending on visual effects often go too far and fail to nurture their fragile connection with the consumer. Digital does not address the emotional needs of the modern shopper, and American consumers are both weary and wary of the visual deluge that follows them everywhere, like a love-obsessed stalker. They seek instead, a multi-sensory experience enhanced by the power of scent marketing that reaches deep inside their emotional core and makes them “feel” a brand rather than just watching it flash endlessly before their eyes. 5 scents for ambient scenting within banks and financial institutions. Emotion, Scent and The Limbic System

Unlike our other senses, olfactory responses are directly linked to the emotional center of our brains and correlate directly with our past experiences. The smell of freshly mown grass, the ocean or cookies baking in an oven rocket us back in time to whenever we first experienced that particular smell. It is the olfactory bulb that first processes smells. It begins inside the nose and runs along the base of the brain. This bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and the hippocampus, two sections of the brain known as the limbic system that are involved in emotion and the formation of memory. This triad of scent, memory and emotion is why scent has the power to influence moods and consumer behavior. It is also the reason why brick and mortar businesses rely so heavily on leading developers and purveyors of ambient air-care scents and products to increase consumer traffic and evoke brand loyalty.


Modern consumers are shopping with their feelings and not their wallets, and this trend translates into brick and mortar retailers becoming more involved with consumers by nurturing a sense of culture and community. This adds a new dimension to brand loyalty, which must now convey values and world views that match those of their clientele. In the words of entrepreneur, Peter Grossman, in a statement to Quora: “Today, brands need to look more actively and purposefully at the culture buzzing around them—in entertainment, in fashion, in news, on social media—and use that awareness to inform how they should best position and integrate themselves into the world.” To feel true brand loyalty, consumers demand a meaningful emotional connection. According to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), over the course of a company’s lifetime, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.

Relevant Studies and Statistics

Although not recent, the following two iconic studies are relevant to the power of scent and how it affects consumer behavior. One conducted in 2005 at the Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, Ltd, by neurologist and nationally recognized smell and taste expert Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, involved participants who were asked to compare a pair of shoes in both a scented retail establishment and an unscented store. Eighty-four percent of customers reported that they were more likely to buy from the scented boutique. In 2012, Eric Spangenberg, a marketing professor and dean of Washington State University’s College of Business conducted another study that proved scent can connect a consumer with a product if it corresponds with the gender of the shopper. It concluded that in clothing stores the sale of women’s clothing doubled when feminine scents such as vanilla were introduced. At the same time, the sales of men’s clothing rose significantly with the introduction of male scents such as rose maroc or patchouli. In his own words: “Men don’t like to stick around when it smells feminine, and women don’t linger in a store if it smells masculine.”

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