In-Store Marketing: Could Scent Make You Buy?

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Email Course!

My dad was a showman; I think it started when he was in college. He was the stage director for a play that had a scene outside in the woods, early morning, when the characters were talking over breakfast.

To try to make this more realistic, he had a warming plate in the back with a skillet and a few strips of bacon inside.

From the control booth, he'd flip the switch to the hot plate at the start of the scene before.

When the set changed and the curtain arose on the camp scene, he switched on a small fan the blew the smell over the actors. People said it felt as though they were really at the campfire with the smell of bacon.

The play was a hit because of the smell of bacon.

A regional grocery chain is getting attention because they are piping in the scent of smoky bacon, rosemarry focaccia and chocolate. They attribute their 8-9% sales rise to this in-store marketing.

Smell is one of the least marketed senses and several companies are rushing to something Walt Disney pioneered with Disneyland - pumping scented air in front of stores.

Who can deny being taken aback by the smell of a coffee roaster or even unsealing a bag of ground coffee?

Wouldn't you expect a store selling leather to smell like leather?

According to the Scent Marketing Institute, "Scent, in particular, has the power to strongly influence people because the olfactory input bypasses the logical center of the brain and goes directly to the emotional seat and memory center of the brain. For companies looking to attract customers and develop a long-lasting relationship with them, emotion and memory are critical connections and should be among the top goals of their marketing campaigns and branding efforts."

Notice we are not talking about incense or perfume - things people can be allergic to, we're talking natural scents. Several hotels have followed suit with their own subtley scented air which makes their lobbies a recognizable brand worldwide.

As the Boomer generation ages, our eyesight is bound to get worse. Scented air may draw our attention in ways a sign may not be able to.

Why wouldn't a baker enhance his offerings when most of his baking is done by 7am ? I'd do it.

Would you?

Oh yeah back to my dad, that bacon smell stayed in the auditorium for years, long after he had graduated. I can only imagine people left productions and concerts hungry for breakfast without ever knowing why.