Tips that make scents: Boosting sales with the right aroma

Good retailers know that ambience matters.  From the music selection and the LED-lit window displays, to the right layout and a sales team to match, every detail contributes to the customer experience – even scent.

Olfaction is our most primal sense, says Jennifer Dublino, VP development of Scent World Events, a scent-marketing conference. “Your brain reacts to smell before anything else,” she adds. But according to Dublino, many retailers are getting it wrong. Here are her tips for making sense of your store’s scent.

 

Make sure it’s not bad or off-brand


It’s no secret that vanilla and floral notes work well for womenswear boutiques, while woodsy smells are more appropriate for a men’s store. But retailers that sell items like tools, appliances and bikes can also benefit from the right ambient scent, Dublino says.

“It improves our perception of a product’s quality and encourages customers to linger a little bit longer, thereby increasing interactions with the product.”

Dublino cites a German study concerning a large home improvement store that diffused the smell of freshly cut grass throughout parts of the building. “Shoppers in the scented environment said the employees were more knowledgeable compared to those in the non-scented part of the store,” Dublino adds.

 

Don’t look for shortcuts


For retailers on a budget, it might be tempting to pick up a basic air freshener from the local drugstore and call it a day. But there are several drawbacks to this strategy Dublino explains. First, the effects of a particular scent lessen over time. It’s called olfactory fatigue and when that sets in, customer will stop noticing your store’s aroma. You also want to avoid cheap, cloying fragrances, she adds. Even though it’s hard to go wrong with a simple, citrusy bouquet, drugstore devices can sometimes turn that pleasant scent into something bordering on offensive.  Generic diffusers also don’t let retailers control intensity.

A store’s ambient scent should be barely noticeable and should be released only at certain times, Dublino advises. There are affordable, cold-air diffusion units on the market that will let you control how often a scent is released and how strong it is. Companies like Scent Air and Air Q help retailers craft signature fragrances and provide the right diffusing equipment for their space.

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Keep it simple


Walk through a department store and you might catch a whiff of baby powder in one section and pine needles in another. While this might work for a large surface retailer, it would be disastrous for a small boutique, Dublino warns.

“Mixing too many ambient scents is like playing two songs loudly at the same time; it’s confusing and irritating,” she adds.

A good approach is to use ambient fragrances near your checkout. According to a Swedish study, sales of shampoo positioned near the point of sale that diffused a pleasing aroma increased by 36.9%, and shampoo sales in the store overall increased by almost 27%.

“When it comes to scents, retailers really need to keep three things in mind: What is the purpose in scenting this store? Which aroma will appeal most to my customers? And what technology should I use?”

Interested in learning more?

Find out more about Lightspeed's retail POS for your retail store

Scent World takes place in New York on June 12 and 13. Retailers can join brands like Victoria’s Secret and Sephora and meet with scent-marketing strategists to learn the latest trends and techniques to make their world a better smelling place.

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun is a content writer, fashion enthusiast, and lover of pets. When she's not writing about retail trends, she's travelling the world and learning new languages.