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Just Follow Your Nose!

By: Rick Ruffolo
Posted: November 1, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 4 of 6

“Today, retail operators are seeking innovative ways to build loyalty and enduring relationships with their customers,” says Tom Conroy, CEO, Scentair. “Fragrancing environments is a way to create lasting first impressions; hence bringing customers back time and time again. Signature fragrances help bond people to places. It is the new frontier in place branding; scent is the ideal way to create enduring affinity for one’s brand.”

Enhancing the brand experience through scent is emerging nearly everywhere. Just as you can’t ignore the nose on your face, no brand can continue to dismiss the potential impact of this trend. Even brands that don’t have a direct connection to a distinct fragrance character or profile should be evaluating this opportunity. It might not be immediately obvious, but don’t just look for the easy answer. In his book, Brand Sense, Martin Lindstrom showed how scent positively impacted how long consumers perceived they had been shopping at Galeries Lafayette in Paris. While consumers in the control group overstated their shopping time by only 5 minutes, (claiming they had been shopping for 45 minutes vs. 40 minutes), consumers who were exposed to a scented test environment grossly underestimated their time believing they had spent only 25 minutes shopping when, in fact, it had been longer than an hour.

“Think of fragrance as a fourth dimension,” says Bruce Dybvad, CEO Interbrand Design Form. “The olfactory sense has the power to go beyond height, width and depth to take an experience to a different level. Scent can create an experience envelope that heightens your emotional takeaways as it establishes a mood, paints a picture and elicits memories. This fourth dimension changes environmental experience, changes product experience and has an add-on effect that improves our sensorial experience, amplifies our impression and fulfills immersive experiences—from theater, to shopping environments, to a consumer product benefit.

“If you don’t use this key ingredient you risk not managing all the variables of an experience, similar to not using all the colors of the spectrum or all the notes on an instrument. If it’s not there, everyone knows something is missing. They may not readily know what’s missing, but without fail, it will be seen as a picture that is incomplete,” Dybvad says.

To paraphrase Walt Disney the man, people like to shop more (and spend more money) when they are happy and enjoying themselves. So, this opportunity is not just for brands in the food and fragrance business. This should be a key discussion more broadly embraced by brands and retailers, among others, across a wide spectrum of product/service categories—and those in beauty.