Sep 23, 2013
The Smell of Success

Successful retailers are more than familiar with the concept that you have to show it to sell it,” meaning visual displays are the key to creating sales. But what about the smell of your store?

A new study from Belgium researchers at Hasselt University suggests that the smell of chocolate in bookstores encourages customers to spend more time browsing for books. The study was conducted over 10 days at a local bookstore, during which the store smelled like chocolate for half of its business hours.

Researchers analyzed the behavior of every fifth customer that entered the store – a total of 201 patrons – and found that customers were twice as likely to look at more than one book when the store smelled like chocolate and overall book sales increased by about 40 percent.

Of course this is only one study that I’m citing, but many have been done on the subject. Grocery stores use the scent of baking bread to encourage baked goods purchases and major retail chains have unique scents designed expressly for their stores as part of their branding strategy.

Teen clothing stores in Hong Kong have subtly scented their stores with “bubble gum” while a Samsung store pushing a new “nature-oriented” phone used pine scent to bring shoppers in.

The general finding is that scent nudges associations in our brain between smells and other good stuff – be it a day at the beach, a holiday celebration or simply a chocolate chip cookie.

How does this relate to you?

It’s a simple way to differentiate your store from the competition. What scent best fits with your theme? Choose something simple and fresh and create your brand. It’s as easy as including a few plug-in fresheners or even an automatic diffuser or two to move towards the smell of success.

By Abby Heugel

Managing Editor

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