How our nose makes us “buy” it

“Think you’re using your head to make purchases? Think again”

Have you experienced that you walk into a store and you’re hit with the smell of cinnamon, you hear Christmas carols playing — and suddenly you purchase five cashmere sweaters, six scarves and the three-for-one sock special featuring reindeer that you had not intention of buying in the first place. Don’t blame yourself. Blame your nose.

In a recent article, Ms. Sifferlin indicates that sensory branding is becoming a bigger part of stores’ consumer marketing. Retailers often rely on music and colors to create a mood, but now they’re targeting the other sense, smell, to get customers to make a more sophisticated connection to the brand through their shopping experience — they even have a name for it: olfactive branding. The sense of smell is still less understood than the other senses, but studies show it plays a role in how we perceive our surroundings. For instance, the olfactory bulb that’s responsible for processing smells, is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is related to memories and emotions. That’s why smell has the power to trigger emotional memories (and why the scent of someone’s perfume can bring up memories of that person). And good memories may make you more likely to purchase items that remind you of those happy emotions

For example, the luxury fashion brand, Hugo Boss,  chose its scent about five years ago after testing three different smells in their storeroom. One significantly stood out—a musky smell with a little bit of citrus—and about 3.5 years ago, the scent was put in every single store. “We really wanted to have a signature scent in our stores. We wanted it to feel like coming home,” says Ward Simmons, head of brand and communications for Hugo Boss. “When you walk into our store you can see the layout, you can touch and feel the clothes, you can hear the music. The one thing that was missing was the smell. It was the last ingredient to make people feel at home and welcome in the store.”

In the Time Magazine article, it is suggested that we can’t know for sure that a specific scent will urge us to open our wallets, but it can make us feel more comfortable at a store, and that can improve sales in the long run. Hugo Boss received such great feedback about its store scent, that the company made a candle with the smell that they sold last year during the holidays. And they have no plans to get rid of its scent anytime soon.

So the next time you’re out shopping, take a sniff, and see if you can spot the odorizer. Some place scent machines above the door of their stores, while others rig the scent through the ventilation system.


For Complete article:

Dec. 16, 2013. Time Magazine.  My Nose Made Me Buy It: How Retailers Use Smell (and Other Tricks) to Get You to Spend, Spend, Spend. Think you’re using your head to make purchases? Think again.

Alexandra Sifferlin