The power of smell @POS

It´s well documented the role of the senses to perceive the reality around us.

Therefore, today I would like to talk about the powerful sense of smell.

Our brain has a particular structure for processing smells that is closer to the hippocampus than the other senses. Perhaps this is why smells have a strong power to evoke memories. It is said that about 75% of the emotions that a person experiences are influenced by smell.

It’s hard to forget the smell of cookies at Grandma’s. Or the smell of crayons from the first school. A certain perfume can immediately resemble a boyfriend/girlfriend. Popcorn reminds us of the cinemas and maybe a first date or a group of friends. I met a person who ate a spoiled smoked fish as a child and could not eat anything smoked since then. The smell of smoked food always evoked bad memories.

Some smells are almost unanimous – everyone loves them – like chocolate, coffee, lavender. Others, not so much. Research conducted by neuroscientists has revealed that simple scents work better in stores than complex scents(1)and work even better if the scent goes unnoticed consciously. So, don´t even think of going hard on scents in your store. You will end up having complaints like these:

“I love your underwear and I already bought a lot of this brand but I will confess that I just STOPPED, gave up because I can’t stand the smell of the store !!!!
It is so strong that it disturbs the stores next door and the shopkeepers themselves !!!
Pleeeeeeease !!!! I mean as a consumer of the brand, can’t you leave a more pleasant and smooth smell ???? The intention should be to attract customers and not make them buy them running out of the store. I thank!!!” – Jessica

Another interesting aspect of aromas in stores is the congruence. If the smell is congruent with the gender, it works better than incongruous smells(2). So, in a baby store, the best thing is to have a “baby perfume”, in stores for women you should work with feminine scents such as light floral, lavender, fruit, patchouli, or even linen, and in men’s stores, it is better to use a perfume of wood, musk, pine or ocean.

Many brands and stores (and even some products) use the power of perfume. Melissa is a classic. The store and the sandals have a typical and unique perfume by Melissa.

The aromas are so powerful that they can modulate the behavior. In a well-known experiment(3), 2 groups received a very crumbly cookie that left a lot of crumbs when eaten. One group was exposed to a cleansing citrus scent while eating. This group tried to eat more carefully, making as little crumbs as possible – unlike an odorless group, which made a real mess like we all would.

To seduce the customer and provide good memories, some appliance stores are baking cakes and cookies to welcome their buyers. Supermarkets spread the (fantastic) smell of fresh bread – some at the front of the store to attract passersby, others at the end of the store, to promote a tour of the entire store.

Chocolate shops spread chocolate scent to attract customers. Cake shops can spread coffee aroma to increase sales Exxon used coffee aroma in gas station stores and thereby increased coffee sales by 55%.

IBM Artificial intelligence is already being used to develop new fragrances for brands like O Boticário – as seen at Euroshop 2020, considered the most important Retail fair of the world, and also at IBM´s website and blog.

The right perfume can make your brand memorable, can make your customer stay longer, and can evoke positive feelings. The right scent can conquer a precious space in your customer’s mind. Are you already using the power of smell in your store?

Leave here (in the comments below) an experience you had with scents in stores. Did you buy something because of the good smell or didn’t you buy it because of the bad smell? What are your favorite scents?

(1) Herrmann, A. et al. (2013). The Power of Simplicity: Processing Fluency and the Effects of Olfactory Cues on Retail Sales.
(2)Spangenberg, Eric & Sprott, David & Grohmann, Bianca & Tracy, Daniel. (2006). Gender-congruent ambient scent influences on approach and avoidance behaviors in a retail store. Journal of Business Research. 59. 1281-1287. 10.1016/j.jbusres.2006.08.006.
(3)Holland, R., Hendriks, M., & Aarts, H. (2005). Smells Like Clean Spirit: Nonconscious effects of scent on cognition and behaviour. American Psychology Society, Vol.16, No. 9, 689-693

Fabi Brito
About The Author

Fabi Brito

Fabiana Brito is a Brazilian advertiser, enthusiastic about the point of sale, trends, behavior, and neuromarketing, who helps several clients to improve their communication at the point of sale, their in-store experiences (physical or digital), and to plan for the future. Before starting her deepening in retail and consumer insights, Fabiana started her career as an Arts director, working at the Promarket agency for 10 years in Rio de Janeiro. After that, she spent a couple of years in Australia, studying Visual Arts. She returned to Brazil in 2002 and soon after met Gilberto Strunck, the first president of POPAI Brazil, with whom she worked at DIA Comunicação for 8 years and where she fell in love with retail dynamics, working for Coca-Cola and other clients. In 2015 she moved to São Paulo, to work at Artplan as strategic planning for Trade and Shopper Marketing, helping several clients such as Panasonic, Electrolux, Hotéis.com, Mexichem-Amanco, Campari Group, Melitta, among others. Fabiana has a degree in Visual Communication, has a postgraduate degree in Marketing, and a postgraduate degree in Neuroscience and Behavior - in addition to several complementary courses. And now is adventuring into writing.

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