The Big Picture on Scent Marketing

scent increases sales and recommendations

In this blog, we frequently let you know about new and exciting research on the effects of ambient scent and how it can help businesses and boost sales. Now, researchers have released a new study that analyzes multiple scent studies to draw some overall conclusions. In this meta-analysis, the combination of large amounts of data from the various studies gives us some reliable and important insights.

How Scent Affects Shoppers

In general, the presence of a pleasant ambient scent has a definite effect on consumers.

“Our results reveal positive and robust effects of ambient scent on mood, evaluations, memories, intentions, and behaviors, yielding a 3%–15% average increase in the level of the response variables.”

Pleasant Ambient Scents: A Meta-Analysis of Customer Responses and Situational
Contingencies, Roschk & Hosseinpour 2019

The most significant effect of scent on consumers was in improving memory recall (+15.4%) followed by improved shopping satisfaction (+7.8%), assessment of the environmental quality (+7.9%) and product evaluations (+7.6%). Other important effects include increased purchase intention (+8.4%), intention to recommend (+12.4%), lingering (+3.8%) and increased sales expenditures (+3.9%).

Best Conditions for Increased Sales

The researchers found that ambient scent had a clear, indirect effect on increasing sales. By improving mood and boosting product evaluations, scent impacts purchase intentions, which then affects the total amount spent. The actual amount of sales increase depends on the congruency, type of business, complexity of the fragrance, familiarity and gender. Although the average increase was 3.9%, in favorable conditions sales increased as much as 23%.

Generally speaking, the most favorable conditions include:

  • Using easily identifiable, familiar scents
  • Simple scents (one or two note fragrances)
  • Using them for service businesses
  • Making sure that the scent “goes with” with other factors (like the product type and the music)
  • A primarily female customer base

If you want to create a signature scent that is more complex and not yet familiar to your audience, it can still work well as long as it is pleasant. Talk to your Air Esscentials rep about setting up pre-testing of your bespoke fragrance to ensure success.

As far as intensity, optimal results came when the scent was noticed by 60-80% of shoppers.

In conclusion, the paper’s authors said:

Although it seems unlikely that a pleasant ambient scent can turn a poor in-store experience into a great one, we see it as an enhancement that, in the fierce competition for the perfect in-store experience, may be the decisive factor in a firm’s ability to thrive and prevail in the market.

Pleasant Ambient Scents: A Meta-Analysis of Customer Responses and Situational
Contingencies, Roschk & Hosseinpour 2019

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