By now most of us have heard about the conference booth serving up fresh baked chocolate chip cookies to seduce wandering conference-goers to their booth, or the candy shop or restaurant wafting delicious aromas through the air that make your mouth water incessantly as you claw your way in to the establishment.
But I recently came across Whiff Solutions – a scent marketing company – in an article, and did you know some brands like Cadillac and Singapore Airlines have trademarked scents? And in fact scent marketing has been used over the past decade in a fragmented variety of cool ways, like some of these mentioned on the Whiff Solutions website:
- A big three automaker spent $100,000 to create a scent in order for customers to perceive the auto salesmen as more honest and trustworthy.
- A French Cinema company is working on delivering scented experience with the audio visuals of moviemaking.
- A British form called Bodywise has patented a scent mixture that assists in debt collection. They claim a 17% increase in collection when sending a scented billing statement over an odor free bill.
And check out some of this research:
- Research demonstrated a 52% reduction in clerical error when a citrus mixture was introduced in office buildings in Japan.
- Research showed an 84% increase in the willingness to purchase a pair of Nike shoes in a scented room over an odor-free room. The same subjects indicated a willingness to pay $10.33 more for the same pair of shoes.
Scent is highly connected to emotion and memories. How many times has a whiff of a passerby’s cologne reminded you of an old lover, or the smell of something burning reminded you of your mom’s home cooking? As Whiff Solutions put it, “75% of our emotions are generated by what we smell. If branding is all about building emotional ties between consumers and products, then why has this fact been almost entirely ignored in the world of marketing?”
It doesn’t seem to be a booming market though – global searches in Google for the term [scent marketing] were at a whopping 1,300 in March, and [scent machines] at 720. Nor does it seem that scent marketing is about to take off, if you look at the trends in Google Insights:
So does that make it the perfect secret marketing tactic? If humans can only identify 10,000 smells, does that mean the first 10,000 to trademark their brand scents win? But then many of those are surely unpleasant, so should you drop everything and jump on the gardenia and ocean breeze bandwagon and start crafting up a patent for Eau de Bob’s Internet Consultancy? I think you know the answer to that.
But the lack of industry propulsion for scent marketing (so far) doesn’t negate the fact that it seems to be a potentially highly-effective marketing tactic. And one that often doesn’t get considered (think SEO). To quote Whiff Marketing yet again “Chances are that you use corporate colors, have a logo, and use sounds or music in certain applications…Like most businesses, your brand strategy probably doesn’t include scent.”
So what would your brand smell like?