Scent for Service Businesses

scenting for service businessesWhen you sell products, it is easy to measure the effect of a scenting program; more products sold. For service companies, however, things are not as concrete. Can ambient scenting help service companies too? That is what researchers set out to discover.

Specifically, they wanted to know how non-noticeable scent in a busy service environment influenced customers’ perception of service quality, experience and value.

For the experiment, they used a German commuter railway, scenting some of the cars but not others. First, they did a survey of riders’ perceptions with the scented conditions compared to without scent. Riders rated the service quality with scent as 12.5% better, the service experience as 19.7% better and the service value as 21.0% better. The only thing that changed was the presence of a scent that people did not even consciously notice.

Effect of Long Term Scenting

Then they set out to see if these better perceptions were short-lived or endured over time. They took surveys over a period of 4 months and then again, 2 weeks after the scent program was finished. All three measures of the service continually increased over the 4 month period. The most significant improvement was in the perceived service experience, which jumped from 2.84 to 3.84 at the end, or 35.2%. Subjective service quality increased from 3.80 to 4.39, or 15.5% and service value improved from 3.38 to 3.89 or 15.1%.

After the scent program was stopped, service experience and service quality continued to be higher than before scenting, but dropped off from the higher levels they had achieved during scenting. Perceived service quality dropped the fastest after termination of scenting, decreasing 5.7% within 2 weeks.


  • Scent improves customer perceptions of service quality, experience and value in the short-term.
  • Over the long-term, scent continually improves customer perceptions of service quality, experience and value.
  • The benefits can linger for a couple of weeks once scenting is stopped, but stopping a scent program negatively impacts customer perceptions of service quality and experience.

Air Esscentials has numerous service businesses as clients including dry cleaners, transportation companies and healthcare providers. Contact your Air Esscentials rep today to find out how you can improve customer perceptions for your servicescape.

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