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Scents that make you spend: Can the invisible force really open up wallets?

Scents that make you spend: Can the invisible force really open up wallets?

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The next time you enter Singapore's landmark shopping mall, ION Orchard, take a deep breath and you may notice subtle hints of cardamom and bergamot in the air. This is one tactic that stores and malls use to convince its customers to covet everything they set their eyes on. This invisible force, dubbed 'scent marketing', is a strategy that has been in practice for decades to lure customers in.  

With brands gaining their spirit back after the pandemic, more have been exploring a multi-sensory approach in their brick-and-mortar stores to entice customers without them being explicitly aware of it. One of these senses is olfactory, through scent marketing.

Scent marketing, to put it simply, is the strategic use of fragrance to enhance the shopping experience for a consumer. However, it has collateral benefits for a brand. If brands create signature scents that are memorable enough, customers are bound to form a connection with the scent and therefore are bound to develop an affinity for the brand.

ION Orchard's signature scent is crafted to embody its distinctive brand personality, said Yeo Mui Hong, CEO of Orchard Turn Developments. The captivating blend of the mall's scent comprises 20 individual notes of natural herbs, fruits and flowers, taking inspiration from ION Orchard's heritage as a place teeming with dense plantations of nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards. 

"Shoppers continue to associate the experience and memory of shopping at ION Orchard with our signature scent, with some even expressing their desire to purchase the fragrance and replicate the olfactory experience at home," Yeo added.

True enough, scent marketing is a sneaky and subtle marketing tactic that has seemed to work in the favour of many brands.

Don't miss: Scent marketing with AR tours used to attract tourists in Sentosa

Earlier this year, Nespresso used the tactic as part of its 'Nespresso Vertuo Pop' campaign, where it turned Singapore's Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) Orchard MRT into a sensorial coffee experience. Regarding the activation, Nespresso's brand communications manager, Jermaine Koh, said that aroma of coffee is a key aspect of its enjoyment, which makes drinking coffee a sensorial experience.

Hence the best way to market its new Vertuo Pop machine is through scent marketing which could elevate consumers' coffee experience at home. Carrefour used the enticing aroma of its bakery products to lure customers to their store to buy their array of offerings and Southeast Asian hotels have long calmed flurried travellers entering hot and flustered with their soothing aroma of lemon grass. With some hotels such as Shangri-La having their signature scents that permeate their halls and spaces.

Just like Nespresso, fast food chain, Burger King uses its vents to pump out the smell of its burgers to whet the appetite of its customers and lure customers to its tasty fare, convincing those walking by to walk right in instead. 

According to Sutapa Bhattacharya, managing director at DIABrands, scent marketing works a wonder because our basic senses serve as powerful connections to precious associations of the past. It not only "draws in prospective customers by appealing to the sense but also keeps customers in the store for longer, getting them to buy more, increase revenue and build loyalty as they become more familiar with the scent," she said.

She added that its not just visual identity but textures and scent become an essential part of the brand DNA that builds meaningful and strong associations and memories for people, that brings them back time and time again, becoming a part of their expectations.

Sucy Rondonuwu, general manager at Fav (part of FAB Indonesia) agreed with Bhattacharya. Comfort and familiarity with a scent can positively influence consumers’ perception of a brand and increase the likelihood of making a purchase. However, how can brands new to scent marketing, approach this strategy?

One way is to start with a clear understanding of their target audience and brand identity, Rondonuwu explained. As such, brands should identify the emotions and associations that a brand desires to be associated with.

While there are various ways to incorporate scent marketing into a brand’s operations, from diffusing scents in-store to using scented packaging, Rondonuwu said that her experience of implementing the strategy revolves around product launches and media gatherings.

She said:

In these settings where influential voices are present, it is essential to create an atmosphere that resonates with the brand’s essence and values.

Adding on, Rondonuwu explained that scent plays a crucial role in setting the tone and evoking desired emotions, amplifying the impact of the gathering and creating a lasting impression that lingers in the minds of participants.

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Related articles:
Scent marketing with AR tours used to attract tourists in Sentosa
Unilever’s Knorr banks on scent marketing with new bus stop capsule dispenser
Nespresso takes Vertuo Pop launch to the streets with larger-than-life 3D campaign

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