Scent Marketing: Meaning & Best 2023 Strategies

Scent Marketing

Throughout history, in practically every ancient community, the utilization of ambient smells has been a common practice. In ancient Japan, clocks would burn a different kind of incense every quarter of an hour. The Pharaohs would dress themselves with expensive perfumes so that everyone would know when they were coming. Ancient Romans lavished scented oils on the animals they kept as pets.

The sense of smell is the most ancient and developed among humans. Retailers make use of it as a marketing tool today to entice, please, and ultimately convert customers who are already in their stores.

According to the findings of several studies, the use of scent marketing can boost retail store sales by 11% while also increasing customer satisfaction scores by 20%.

Do you want a piece of the action? This article will discuss the ways in which retailers can profit from using fragrance marketing, provide some examples of successful scent marketing campaigns, and explain how retailers can start using scent marketing in their stores right away.

What is Scent Marketing?

Scent marketing is mostly about how businesses use different scents to influence what their consumers buy. Scents in businesses are used to relax customers as they enter your store and have a great shopping experience.

Scent marketing lets you create a unique experience for your customers by giving them a scent that is made just for them. This process is done through a premium scent delivery system that is customized to fit your space.

It is also a way of creating control through the customer’s memory or buying behavior by using their sense of smell to your advantage.

This is to influence your customers by creating a sense of smell that makes them comfortable and relaxed enough to buy your available products. It is a marketing strategy used by businesses to boost the sales of their product.

Importance of Scent Marketing

It is pretty easy to think that scent does not matter, especially when you look at the sales results.

Does this mean that scent doesn’t matter? Well, no, it matters a lot and is still a very essential tool for the marketing of your business.

As human beings, we have five senses, and when it comes to business marketing, most business owners focus on the site only.

Of course, location is critical, but so is scent. You might be wondering how scent matters.

Basically, scent can be a very effective strategy if used the proper way. It has this attraction that influences your customers with them knowing. This is one of the best strategies used in business marketing.

Who Uses Scent Marketing?

As long as you are running a business organization or a company, the use of scent marketing can be applied as a strategy to attract more customers. However, this doesn’t just apply to a large business organization or company. Scent marketing can be applied to any business, regardless of size or type.

It could be a clothing store, a shoe store, a nail or hair salon, a retail business, a wholesale business, a company, and so on. Scent marketing is one of the best ways to attract the target customers that you have been looking for. It is a strategy that speaks for itself and influences your customers’ choices.

Types of Scent Marketing Strategies

#1. Aroma Billboards

The most daring type of scent advertising is aroma billboards. The name derives from the fact that a distinguishing aroma, like a billboard, can activate your olfactory system.

People recall something they smell 100 times more than anything they hear, see, or touch.
Have you ever walked past an Abercrombie & Fitch in one mall, then another, and noticed how similar they smelled? Abercombie & Fitch fills the store with a strong smell of a certain scent to get people to come in.

Even if you’ve never been to an Abercrombie & Fitch store, you’re certainly familiar with the tangy, fresh aroma of Fierce, the company’s signature cologne. That is the outcome of an aroma billboard.

Many stores use strong smells to fill the air around them and draw people in from the outside.

A rosemary-scented boutique store; a bakery that smells like freshly baked products; and a coffee cafe that smells like lightly caramelized nutty beans are all examples of how to use strong scents to entice customers to stay longer and buy more.

#2. Ambient Scenting

Retailers are looking for new ways to offer distinct and irreplaceable experiences as current in-store interactions become more competitive. According to studies, some people are turning to ambient scent, which is the scent that is prevalent throughout a retail or service location.

These aren’t signature perfumes. Fragrances can be used to enhance the shopper’s experience for a variety of reasons, such as lavender perfume for relaxation or floral odors for staying around a store.

Rutgers University did two tests to see if the smell of the environment could help people remember brands. The outcomes were the same. Ambient smell enhances brand memory and awareness for both familiar and new brands.

Furthermore, customers regard scented places as high-end and elegant. According to an older but still relevant Nike study, shoppers were 84% more likely to buy shoes in a scented environment than in a non-scented environment. In perfumed environments, they were also willing to pay 10% to 20% more for desired products.

Ambient scenting is the simplest scent marketing strategy for small firms to implement. It’s less noticeable than an olfactory billboard and doesn’t have to be brand specific. Some stores employ a single fragrance, while others utilize multiple scents in different sections.

Typical ambient scents include:

  • Florals, to entice customers to spend more time in your shop.
  • Leather is used to convey a sense of wealth and opulence.
  • To give a sharp, clean appearance, use fresh linen.
  • Relaxation with lavender
  • Vanilla, to brighten the mood

Make use of a diffuser to manage the scents in the air. This allows you to tweak the settings and ensure that the aroma is there but not overpowering.

#3. Thematic Scenting

Thematic smells are the pinnacle of fragrance marketing. They are utilized to enhance the mood or design of an exhibit. The concept is that your perfume should complement the atmosphere, such as the smell of popcorn at a movie theater.

Shoppers spend more time in perfumed stores. According to one Samsung study, when exposed to themed smells vs. non-themed fragrances, shoppers underestimated their shopping time by 26% and visited three times more products.

Select a smell that complements a product in a certain section of your store. Bloomingdale’s, for example, uses a coconut fragrance in its swimwear department and a baby powder scent in its infant clothing.

When it comes to how a theme smells, context is everything. Psychologists believe that written labeling, visual communication, and auditory clues can all have an impact on scent marketing. If your perfume doesn’t go with the product or the environment, it might turn people away instead of drawing them in.

#4. Signature Smells

Signature scents entail developing a distinct scent for your company’s brand. These branded aromas give customers a “feel” and are frequently utilized as an olfactory billboard or ambient perfume in stores. It is costly and time demanding, thus it may not be suitable for small firms.

Signature scents are designed for businesses that can afford to combine fragrance notes that elicit a certain emotion or feeling associated with their brand. Businesses seeking signature scents collaborate with scent strategists or fragrance companies to create one. You might even make your own by combining different perfumes. The most crucial factor is that the aroma reflects your brand, store, and items so that you stand out to customers.

Scent Marketing Companies

There are varieties of companies and business organizations that make use of scent marketing. The purpose of this is for their business to stand out and have its unique scent. Some of the best scent marketing companies are;

  • John Lewis
  • Burger King
  • Cinnabon
  • Retail Companies
  • Rolls Royce

What type of scent promotes sales

According to neuromarketing, most customer purchases and decisions are influenced by their emotional connection to the product rather than rationality. According to research, up to 75%  of our emotional triggers come only from one of the five senses that we have.

This emotional trigger comes from the sense of smell. When you own a business organization or a retail company, you should try to create a customer experience by enhancing it with scents.

When you use scents to create a customer experience, you automatically activate a sensory that triggers them. This process includes the sense of smell to increase or boost the odds of closing a sale.

For example, a retail store that sells shoes can easily influence its customers by enhancing the smell of leather. Or, rather, a cosmetic store can focus on floral scents.

What scents make people buy more?

There are so many scents out there. Most of the time, it can be challenging to select one that will suit your type of business while also increasing sales by influencing the customer and providing satisfaction.

Moreover, when you are selecting a particular scent, it has to be done discreetly. Some of the most popular scents that attract customers are;

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Licorice
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamon
  • Ginger

Scent Marketing Strategy

Make use of scent research

Your shop may not have the resources of Nike or Singapore Airlines to work with industry behemoth ScentAir to create custom scents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the research and development that the big guys funded.

Read up on studies that show how scents can help attract the right demographic for your products and services. Some intriguing findings from ScentAir research include:

  • If the scent appears to match the products in the store, well-received ambient scents can positively influence purchase behavior.
  • The opposite is true if the scent does not appear to match the context of the store; customers may avoid the retail space (so pick a scent that makes sense for your brand).
  • Gender-specific scents appear to be important as well. In a women’s clothing store, a “feminine” scent promotes positive purchase intent.
  • If the scent does not appear to match the gender of the SKUs, the opposite is true. According to the same study, this is why department stores frequently incorporate different scents in different areas of the store, depending on the product focus.
  • When creating scentscapes, keep the season in mind. In December, filling stores with scents that remind customers of Christmas while playing Christmas music yields positive results. To reinforce the brand, several factors must be considered, including the appropriate context and the use of multiple human senses at the same time.

Choose the store experience

It is obvious that a pleasant odor makes people feel better. There are no surprises at this point. We shop longer and spend more money when we smell good. While unpleasant ones discourage us from entering a store.

To determine which scents to use, consider the following:

  • What emotion do you want to elicit in your customers? The scent you select should have an impact on how customers feel in your store. Relaxed? Choose a floral scent. Luxurious and opulent? A leather scent might be more appropriate.
  • Which of the following best describes your products and customers? A floral scent may not be the best choice if you’re selling men’s underwear. Consider what makes sense for your products and customers.

The goal is to match your scents to the mood of your customers. For example, if you sell yoga clothing to customers who value peace and serenity, you should use a scent like patchouli or sandalwood throughout the store.

Choose ambiance

Because our brains process scents subconsciously first, subtle scents have a big impact. After you’ve decided on a scent, consider it as a background element in your retail space. A light scent will reduce customer friction, improve their perception of quality, and correspond to how human brains process smells.

Some retailers, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and LUSH, deviate from this best practice. Both retailers have strong (to some, overpowering) scents in their stores.

These companies are using a strategy known as “billboard scents,” because the distinct smells they’ve chosen to associate with their brand are as noticeable as a billboard. They’ve done so on purpose because market research shows that their target demographics are largely sensitive to those scents, but the strategy has drawbacks.

Scents are highly subjective, and intentionally inundating customers with a scent they dislike or have an allergic reaction to can turn them away from your shop or cross the line into nuisance/pollution, putting a company at risk of facing legal issues.

This is why only a few companies employ the billboard scent strategy. It’s one you should avoid if you’re a new retailer.

Select diffusion points

Consider the type of scent marketing you want to use. Choose an aroma billboard if you want to attract customers from the street. Do you have different themes in your store? Try thematic scenting in areas that correspond to your best-selling products.

If you simply want your store to smell nice, a simple fragrant oil in a diffuser can do the trick. There’s no need to get into intricate recipes and diffusion methods.

Depending on the size of your store, start with one or two diffusers. If it fits your aesthetic, try incorporating it into your decor, or keep it hidden behind your register or near the door. “Scent should stay in the background—pleasant, but not distracting,” says Professor Spagenberg of Washington State University’s scent research department.

Begin utilizing the power of scent in your store.

There is enough evidence that scents can positively influence consumer behavior in retail environments, and there are enough low-cost/low-risk solutions that there is no reason not to begin experimenting with scent marketing. You’re not sure what scent to try? Inquire with your customers! Get a few scent strips and ask visitors to your shop for their feedback.

Don’t have enough money to pay for a ScentAir consultation? Diffusers and oils, when strategically placed, are inexpensive and cheerful alternatives.

The best part about starting small is that if you get negative feedback on your first attempt, you can easily change course and try another scent.

What Is the Power of Scent Marketing?

Scent Marketing is one of the most inventive approaches in recent years, providing a way to attract new customers while also reinforcing brand image or product knowledge. The future of sensory marketing is determined by the production of sensory experiences through fragrance.

What Are the Four Types of Scent?

Warm, woody, oriental, and fresh are the four main categories, with distinct fragrance combinations bringing out each sensation.

What Scents Attract Customers?

Citrus, vanilla and cinnamon, pine, clean linen, and lavender are some of the most popular scents for drawing customers and increasing expenditure.

How Does Scent Marketing Work?

Scent marketing is a sort of sensory marketing that appeals to the sense of smell of the customer. It entails strategically placing smells in various areas of your store. The goal is to enhance sales by creating a memorable, enjoyable shopping experience.

How Big Is the Scent Industry?

In 2023, the Perfume & Fragrance Manufacturing sector will be worth $3.5 billion in sales. What is the projected growth rate for the Perfume & Fragrance Manufacturing industry in the United States in 2023? The Perfume & Fragrance Manufacturing industry’s market size is predicted to remain stable in 2023.


The use of scent marketing by various business organisations and retail trade has proven to be a great marketing strategy. This simply means that the site of the customers (what they see about the product) and their sense of smell are very essential and work hand in hand. As a business owner, it is advisable to start your own journey of sensory marketing.


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