The sweet smell of success. How smell makes your communication more memorable
You’ve spent the past few weeks house hunting. You’ve scrolled through 100s of listings online, and in your mind, you think you know exactly what you’re looking for. You finally narrow down to your top ten and have booked an agent to show you the houses this weekend.
After viewing 9 houses you are exhausted and nothing seems right. Finally, at the last house, you walk in to be greeted by a familiar smell…
The scent of cinnamon fills the air and you are suddenly transported back in time as you remember coming home from school and being greeted by the fragrant smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. You smile as you recall those happy memories and as you tour the house you can’t shake the feeling of home.
When the agent asks: “What do you think?”
What would you say?
Did you know that smells have a stronger link to memory and emotion than any of your other senses, with over 75 per cent of our feelings being generated by odors. Smell and emotion are stored as one memory — no other sense has this simultaneous access. Scents take root in our subconscious and have the power to spark strong emotional memories.
Scent marketing is a form of sensory marketing, a tactic that engages one or more of the 5 senses to appeal to buyers on an emotional level. Whereas traditional mass marketing is based on the assumption that when faced with a purchase choice, individuals will act “rationally,” sensory marketing assumes people will respond more to their emotional impulses than objective reasoning and uses the consumer’s life experiences and emotions to motivate them towards a purchase.
Smell can make all the difference in marketing, often in unexpected ways. Put simply the strategic use of the right fragrance at specific consumer touchpoints can help you create an instant emotional connection with your customer and make their experience more memorable.
Research shows that scent marketing can raise a retail store sales by up to 11%.
The Psychology of Popcorn
A good example of scent marketing can be found by simply visiting a cinema or movie theatre. The majority of money made by a theatre is not on the movie tickets but rather from the concessions sold and it is no coincidence that the first smell to greet their customers is the smell of popcorn — not only reminding moviegoers of their past movie experience but acts as a strong reminder to treat themselves to popcorn again.
Another company that relies heavily on scent marketing is Starbucks. When you think of Starbucks you can practically smell the coffee. But did you know they stopped serving breakfast with eggs and cheese sandwiches just because “the aroma of the sandwiches was interfering with the coffee aroma in the stores!”
Other companies use scent marketing subtly. Singapore Airlines has its own patented signature scent called Stefan Floridian Waters. A unique blend of rose, lavender, and citrus is worn by all the flight attendants and sprayed onto towels and other in house service items to help promote the feeling of being calm and refreshed.
A pleasant smell has the ability to make people feel better, for instance, lavender, basil, cinnamon, and citrus are all relaxing scents, whereas thyme and rosemary are invigorating; peppermint reduces stress and anxiety; ylang-ylang, jasmine and rose influences romance, and yuzu promotes positivity and happiness.
While most marketers know they should use Scent marketing as part of a retail experience — You may be wondering “Why should I use “smell” in your presentation and pitches?
Everyone who has ever had to present or pitch wishes their message would make an impact and the best way to make an impact is to make your communication memorable. When you are able to visually paint your story with the right words and images you create a connection with your audience. But if you want those words and images to stick you need to create an emotion what better way than to add some scents into your communication.
You may not realise but the literary use of words combined with visual images has the ability to evoke a scent even when you’re customer cannot smell it.
This unique memory triggering process is rooted in literature as well as science and is nicknamed the Proust moment after French author Marcel Proust who in his defining 1913 novel, “À la recherche du temps perdu, In Search of Lost Time triggers within the reader a rush of forgotten memories of long past as he described the indulgence of tea-soaked cake.
“… I carried to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had let soften a bit of madeleine. But at the very instant when the mouthful of tea mixed with cake crumbs touched my palate, I quivered, attentive to the extraordinary thing that was happening inside me.”
To put this into modern marketing, Nike’s goal to create an “immediate and memorable connection between the brand and its consumers.” resulted in the use of visual and descriptive quotes highlighted in their stores and on their websites, for instance, “the smell of a rubber basketball sneaker as it scrapes across the court and a soccer cleat in grass and dirt.”
Think carefully about the emotions you want to evoke in your customers. Devise a scent strategy that allows you to tap into those emotions and place them at different customer touchpoints during your presentation or pitch.
A recent client was preparing her presentation which included a story about a special event in her childhood that happened to occur in the summer. She wanted to tap into her audience’s sense of nostalgia and rather than using the cliche “It was a summer’s day” we brought in the scents associated with summer such as the smell of cut grass that always aggravated her mother’s hayfever and the smell of her neighbour’s BBQs.
Remember people also tend to smell in colour, for instance, if you were to imagine a piece of paper dipped in a citrus-mandarin smell — what colour did you imagine the paper to be? — maybe you thought of the colours orange and yellow. By complementing your smell with your brand colours you can take your brand to a more memorable sensory experience.
Another client, who helps people with anxiety at work, needed help finding the right words and imagery for her website. Rather than focusing on the problem we wanted to create the feeling of space and freedom. We chose a light blue and white palette and edited back on her content. For the hero section of her website, we used an image of a young woman on a beach to evoke the memories of worry-free sunshine filled days — you could almost smell the salty ocean water in the air.
When you can evoke the powerful emotions associated with scents, you can instantly tap into your customers’ emotions and create a memory. Influencing the way your customer thinks and acts is the goal of all businesses. If you want to tell a story that your audience will remember — it makes sense to use scents!!
What will you use?
I help business leaders, thought-leaders and team executives plan and deliver presentations and pitches that are memorable, make an impact and spark conversations. If you suspect you need help with your presentations and pitching take a look at my 1:1 or team training options.