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The New Way to Reach Consumers is Through the Nose

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Mackenzie Priest-Heck

Mackenzie Priest-Heck

Resident GenZ

Scentsational tips from our resident GenZ

As kitschy and cute as the title is, it’s true! Thanks to scientific research about the power of the human relationship to smell, many marketers are now presented with a unique opportunity to more fully engage their customers in a sensory experience and develop a closer relationship with their brand by tapping into this under-utilized sense.

Why smell?

Smell tickles our primitive instincts. It has a profound impact on how we live our lives, as it subconsciously affects our behaviors and culture. 

In the U.S., rosewater is associated with luxury and relaxation, while, in Japan, that same scent is intended to trigger new motivation. Although many smells have a more generalized sentiment, our relationships to certain scents can be highly personalized. As explained by the Proustian effect (named after author Marcel Proust), smells associated with childhood memories have a heavy impact on our relationships to them as adults.

As we uncover this new outlet for engaging powerful associations or behaviors inside of us, smell now gives us the ability to influence our environment. Surrounding ourselves with positive smells, essentially positive memories, allows us to create a more productive atmosphere. Cultivating a unique identity is an essential part of a smell-related experience and a more intimate relationship with the consumer.

Creating a brand personality

Scent can also be used to build brand identity. Many businesses, particularly in retail, have used the potential of smell to add strong, easily identifiable traits to their products or brands. Think about the warm and cozy feeling you get when you step into a bakery, for example. Brands associated with a pleasing, strong smell that often triggers an intense memory are more likely to have thoughtful, loyal customers who recognize a company as having a full personality. Attaching an exciting scent to your brand experience or product will make it hard to forget.

Identifying and reaching your consumer

In addition, smell allows marketers to gain a better understanding of their ideal customers and what might attract them to their product. Smell is a new outlet to reach consumers, without having to use the generalized approach of media or advertisements — much like the ubiquitous music soundtrack that floods retailers around the world today. However, unlike music, the authority of smell is something the average consumer is not entirely tapped into, so engaging this tactic is much more comfortable.

Bringing smells to brand experience

Scent also has the ability to integrate well with the other senses. Multiple scents can be triggered over a period of time, similar to a virtual reality experience. “Smell triggers” can be engaged during a visual or auditory sensation, or paired with a touch-related tactile experience. Incorporating all senses allows for a fully immersive, interactive adventure, and therefore a more engaged and excited customer. 

A few unique and strategic techniques for integrating smell into business include utilizing it in an entrance to an event or showroom floors, throughout a long meeting or conference to keep energy levels high, providing products such as scented hand wipes or sanitizers to refresh your team, or even creating a virtual reality experience to transport your group out of the average, boring office environment. Smell stimulants allow for a more creative environment that will maximize the potential of your team or experience.   

It is important for marketers to realize that ignoring a sense leaves consumers open for distraction (we’re looking at you, Internet!). Not utilizing sense of smell is a missed opportunity that could result in your message being lost. Marketers, venues, exhibitors, and organizers that tap into all sensory triggers available to them increase the possibilities for creating a lasting and memorable engagement. 

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