Have you noticed how many stores and small businesses use familiar marketing tactics to get you in the door?  Some may use elaborate window displays, posters screaming about all the discounts you can find inside, mannequins dressed up in colorful outfits promoting products.

Some are far more subtle, so much so that chances are you’ve hardly ever noticed them but they are very effective. Picture your local grocery store, for example. What do you see when you first walk in? Most likely flowers, or big bright bouquets of fresh-cut blooms greeting shoppers inside.

They do that for a reason and there’s a strategic decision behind those flowers’ in the store. They use the “sense of smell” as an effective strategy to create a better customer experience.

“It is very, very simple,” says Paco Underhill, the founder and CEO of behavioral research and consulting firm Envirosell. “If you can get someone’s nose and saliva glands working, they become a much less disciplined shopper.”

He is correct. Flowers fire up the senses, getting you ready to spend. Sure, they’re aesthetically pleasing. And as you get closer, your nose picks up on their aroma, which tells your brain “this place has good stuff.” You’re signaling freshness to your customers which is a good thing the good thing that make food good. If I’m a grocery store then that’s how I want you to see my store.

Disney effectively uses the “sense of smell” as you walk down main street smelling freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and pastries from their confectionary store or popcorn from a vendor cart and more. Think about what goes on during the holiday season.  That psychological priming of holiday decorations, the sense of pine cones or chestnuts roasting on a fire is just one way stores indirectly influence your behavior and encourage you to part more readily with your money. (Holiday music is another effective strategy.)

Think about it. You’re in a good mood and ready to shell out for the holiday season, not fully realizing that it’s because of the music and twinkly lights. That’s the same strategic reason why so many grocery stores put bouquets front and center.


How does the sense of smell change customer behavior?
  • Ambient scent boosts recognition and memory performance.
  • It increases the time consumers spend in a shop or business.
  • It elevates mood and a person’s level of enjoyment
  • It improves the quality of a service encounter.

You may notice that some customers spend more time in a store — lingering over items because the scents make them calmer and more relaxed. You may notice an uptick in sales as more people convert or add different products to their baskets.

One of my clients, who owns a gas station, actually added the smell of fresh coffee to its store and increased coffee sales by over 200%.

Once you start to notice scents in stores and businesses, you will find it everywhere. You will encounter scent marketing all across the mall, from the sweet desserts at the Cinnabon stand to the smell of new books and coffee at the bookstore.

Of course, you want to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant odors in your business such as overfilled trash receptacles, body odors, strong perfumes, cigarette smoke, bad smells in your restrooms and more.

So what could you do in your business to use the “sense of smell” to generate and cause that same effect on your customers.  Here are some examples:

  • Freshly baked cookies near the inside entrance (or outside) of your business
  • Freshly brewed coffee
  • Freshly popped popcorn
  • Incense or potpourri
  • Aromas of lavender, basil, cinnamon, and citrus are relaxing, whereas peppermint, thyme and rosemary are invigorating. Ginger, cardamom, licorice, and chocolate tend to stir romantic feelings, while rose promotes positivity and happiness.
  • Flowers

Smell is one of the most underrated senses in our bodies, and scent is often overlooked in marketing as many people focus on creating visual and auditory cues and stimulation. We’re so often told that the “visuals matter”. It certainly does. But you also need to make a good first impression and we sometimes overlook the power of smell. It’s time for you to think about how you can incorporate the “sense of smell” into your customer experience as well.

The “sense of smell” can be your new weapon with its power to impact your customer experience to help make your customers engage with your business and products. Now that is “Magical”

Need Help? Contact John Today –info@johnformica.com or (704) 965-4090