Leanna Serras
Leanna Serras 8 February 2019
Categories B2B

Scent Marketing: Smells That Sell

Learn how to control consumers’ memory, emotion and even buying behavior by taking advantage of the strongest of the five senses.

Have you ever smelled a familiar scent and found yourself instantly transported to another time and place? This is a common occurrence for humans because our olfactory senses, or sense of smell, are directly linked to parts of our brain associated with evoking memories and feelings. Fresh baked goods, perfumes and cleaning products are just a few examples of scents that can bring up memories we didn’t even know were stored.

Not only does smell help us uncover long lost memories, but we feel the same emotions almost as strongly as we did the first time. For example, if your mom baked homemade cookies when you had a rough day as a kid, the smell of cookies can make you feel more relaxed as an adult. Everyone has smells that make them feel happy, and you can use these widely enjoyed scents to leverage your marketing strategy.


Various smells can convey your brand’s theme and values. It’s essentially a way to communicate subliminally with your consumers. Scents can also be used in the workplace to increase productivity and happiness among your employees. Many businesses underestimate or neglect the power of smell. Jump to the infographic below to learn how to master scent marketing.

There are four main types of scent marketing: aroma billboard, thematic, ambient and signature smells. Aroma billboards occur when a company has a bold, generally liked scent at every store location. Cinnabon uses this strategy expertly. Thematic smells are more subtle and less specific than aroma billboards. They’re used to set the mood rather than advertise a brand.

Ambient smells are like the background music of smells. They’re used to fill spaces or combat bad smells without making their presence too overt. Lastly, signature smells are specific to the brand. This type of scent marketing is popular among retail and designer stores. With a signature smell, the consumer is reminded of the company whenever they experience that scent.

FragranceX conducted research in order to discover how scent marketing influences consumer behavior. Because customers are 100 times more likely to remember something that they smell, crafted scents almost guarantee strong personal connections with consumers. In addition to contributing to a cohesive brand image, scents also boost customer satisfaction and sales. People are highly likely to spend more time and money in a store that smells nice.


Different smells reinforce your company’s brand by associating feelings with your products or services. Consider leather and lavender, to name a couple. The smell of leather is perfect for luxury brands because people typically associate it with affluence. Lavender has been proven to reduce stress and promote sleep making it a great scent for spas.  

Some scents, like movie theater popcorn, are extremely noticeable and pleasant. However, some stores use scent marketing in a more subconscious fashion. Bloomingdales divides smells by department versus the entire store — coconut for swimwear, baby powder for infant clothing, etc. You may not directly notice these smells as you move across each department, but your brain does, priming you to make a purchase.

The next time you go shopping, pay attention to how each company uses (or fails to use) the sense of smell to their advantage. For more information on how scent marketing can improve your overall promotion strategy, check out the fun visual below.


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