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Scent: New Frontiers in Branding

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: August 27, 2008, from the May 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

Scent is known to create an emotional connection, and savvy marketers in a variety of industries are discovering the power of using that connection to strengthen a bond with a brand. Scents have been shown to foster more pleasurable retail experiences, and there is a commonality across markets and regions to consumer reaction to scents and the corresponding mood response.

Whether you’re plugging in, misting or infusing fragrance into large areas via electronic systems or more traditional delivery systems, innovative technologies are providing more ways to create ambiance that promotes an experience or brand. The air care market has seen growth in the areas of alternative dispensing, and while candles, sachets, potpourris, oils and scented resins remain popular, there are numerous new options on the market today. Euromonitor forecasts the world air care market growth to reach $7.2 billion by 2010. In the U.S. alone, the growth is expected to reach $2.8 billion. The figure encompasses spray and aerosol use, electric air fresheners, gels, liquids, candles, car air fresheners and other household air care.

One of the distinguishing factors in the air care market continues to be the increasing use of scent as a method of branding used by retailers, hotels and spas to convey a mood or evoke an emotion for individuals in a particular place or setting.

Smelling is Believing

Of the five senses, smell is undoubtedly the strongest. “The role of scent is a new frontier in branding,” said Joe Faranda, chief marketing officer, International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF). “The connection between the sense of smell and the limbic system of the brain is strong, ultimately affecting the power of different scents to evoke different emotions. Scent can be used to create an emotional connection.”

Samsung approached IFF seeking to create a scent that would evoke a mood in their New York City retail space. “In a study commissioned by Samsung, the consumer shopping experience was enhanced when the fragrance was diffused, and indicated that consumers visited other parts of the store,” said Faranda. “Retailers know that a more desirable and pleasant experience can occur.” Faranda noted that it was a scent consumers across multiple countries have responded to, and that the emotion or mood evoked indicated a commonality in terms of shared emotional response.