Smell: The New Frontier

In doing research for our recent TCBY environmental design projects, I delved into the aroma-filled world of  “scent marketing”. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. In fact Advertising Age names “scent marketing” one of the top 10 trends to watch.

Though eCommerce sites continue to dominate sales, The Economist predicts that supermarkets, fast food chains and shopping malls will try out a selection of aromas on their customers to beat the lure of online shopping and discount stores. And get a whiff of this—the sense of smell emotionally affects us up to 75% more than any other sense. Who knew talcum powder makes you feel safe, secure and nostalgic. Entirely, there are about 10 identified scents that trigger real emotions in our minds and bodies.

In fact several progressive companies are already experimenting with this powerful sense. In recent years MINI has toyed with scent diffusers in their concept cars. So conceivably, when you get into your car in the morning, it pumps citrus into the cabin. And conversely, if you’re getting in on a Friday night, rose scent sets the mood.

83% of all brand communication is to the eyes alone. Thus, consumers are likely to take heightened action based on signals received both through the eyes and nose. Looks like it’s time to crank up your olfactory senses!


  1. 1

    Joe says:
    October 19, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    This is an interesting post. I recently had an experience with scent marketing as I was looking at apartments. The scent machine they used could not be purchased by individual but had to be leased by companies. When my wife and I walked into the model in the apartment community, the feeling we got was a warm home like feeling that, sense of comfort. If it wasn’t for that smell we would have never rented the apartment. After researching the machine which was used, we found that the company has a wide verity of scents from Flowers, Tires, to Pot Roast. Craziness. Can they make one that smells like JavaScript?
    Keep Setting the Bar of Design!!!

  2. 2

    October 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Nice post – great image – If I was working on the project for MINI – I would change the fragrance design to match the creative design of their car and cross it over to the brand design of the logo, colour and feel .

    Scent marketing is more than just scent machines – it is about how an aroma can define a space or brand. It is not new either – branders have been asking what does your brand smell like for over 20 years?

    For your readers who are interested on scent research – case studies & olfactory event – look for The Olfactive Group on Link in. Cheers Tracy – fragrance designer…

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