Jamie Huggins IMC 612 — Wk 9 Final Paper !1
IMC 612 — Week 9
Jamie Huggins IMC 612 — Wk 9 Final Paper !2
Table of Contents
Scent’s Effect on Consumer Behavior………………..………………………3
Infusion of Scent into the Consumer Shopping Experience………………….5
Benefits of Scent Marketing………………………………………………….6
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Something as simple as the smell of a cup of coffee can have a huge impact on the human
brain. Studies have shown that the scent of coffee reminds people of their mothers’ cooking
breakfast, and thus, brings back memories of home. A few years ago, Folger’s coffee took this
information and turned into a very successful commercial, which showed a military man
returning home and opening a Folger’s coffee packet. When his mother smelled the coffee, she
immediately knew he was home (Solomon, 2013, p.53). This Folger’s commercial helps show
the immense power of scent marketing, which is an often untapped resource in the area of
sensory marketing. Odors have the power to evict emotions, create feelings, or even bring back
memories. Because of this, businesses, like Folger’s, are beginning to explore these scent
connections and turn them into marketing opportunities. This paper will review scent’s effect on
consumer behavior and explore the benefits that scent marketing can offer to businesses.
Scent’s Effect on Consumer Behavior
In sensory marketing, companies pay specific attention to the impact of sensations on
consumer experiences. Senses like sight, taste, touch, and in this case, smell, have a strong
impact on consumer behavior by enhancing attitudes, perceptions, or overall satisfaction among
consumers (Solomon, 2013, p.49). Throughout the course of many research studies, the
existence of this scent connection has been proven repeatedly.
For example, in one such study, researchers Madzharov, Block, and Morrin, stated that
scents are surprisingly very subtle and powerful influencers. They claimed that certain scent
temperatures have an impact on consumer behavior and can even cause consumers to spend more
money. In the tests for this study, they exposed their participants to warm and cool scents in both
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laboratory and retail environments and measured the scents’ effect on the participants after their
exposure. After their studies were complete, the researchers found that ambient scents that differ
in temperature (i.e. warm or cool) do have a direct effect on consumer behavior. Their studies
proved that warm-scented environments create perceptions of higher social density, power
preferences, purchasing of prestige products, and higher dollar spendings (Madzharov, Block, &
Morrin, 2015, p. 83-93).
In another scent study, researchers Krashna, Morrin, and Sayin sought to discover if
real or imagined food smells increased salivation levels and desires for food products. In the
tests for this study, participants were shown food images and written cues. They were later asked
to smell or even imagine scents representing those images. The researchers’ tests measured their
salivation levels and consumption behaviors. Interestingly enough, the results of this study were
as they predicted: smelling a food scent increased salivation levels and consumption desires for
all of the participants (Krishna, Morrin, & Sayin, 2013, p. 18-25).
These studies both make strong contributions to research in sensory marketing, and
specifically, the area of scent marketing. The first study based on ambient scent temperatures
showed that warm scents play a powerful role in consumer behavior. The results showed that
something as simple as a warm scent can cause consumers to spend more money and purchase
more expensive products. This information is invaluable to marketers — especially to those in
retail. The second study based on olfactory imagery showed that actual scents and images in
food ads enhance consumer responses. The results proved that merely asking subjects to imagine
an odor will not increase salivation levels. They must see an actual picture of food in order for
the increase to occur (Photo + Fragrance, 2014).
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Infusion of Scent into the Consumer Shopping Experience
Scent marketing appears to be one of the fastest growing areas of sensory marketing.
“Ad companies spend about $80 million per year on scent marketing; the Scent Marketing
Institute estimates that number will reach more than $500 million by 2016” (Solomon, 2013, p.
53). Though the roots of scent marketing lie in odor control (i.e. a smoky smelling casino), this
concept has taken a much broader approach in recent years. Retail stores, hospitality
organizations, and even automotive dealerships have all taken a strong interest in the area of
scent marketing to better help define their brands (Smiley, 2014).
One company well-known for its scent marketing efforts is Abercrombie & Fitch. Over a
decade ago, Abercrombie & Fitch was actually one of the first brands to make scent apart of its
identity. Employees would manually spray Fierce, the brand’s most popular cologne scent,
throughout Abercrombie’s stores. This method was far from ideal, however. “It was expensive;
employees were doused in the scent, and there wasn't a uniform effect” (Smiley, 2014). It was
not until several years ago that the retailer began working with AirQ to better help deploy and
disperse the scent throughout its stores. AirQ installed delivery systems inside the stores located
on the ceilings that were powered by track lighting (Smiley, 2014). Today, Abercrombie and
Fitch’s signature store scent has become an integral part of its consumers’ shopping experience.
Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln sub-brand has also experimented with scent marketing in
its showrooms. The company created its own Essence of Lincoln fragrance that is available
nationwide on scent cards. The scent is also dispersed through ventilation systems in select
Lincoln showrooms across the United States. According to a company press release, “the
fragrance ‘exudes luxury and warmth,’ including scents like green tea, ‘to encourage a sense of
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upscale well-being,’ and jasmine and tonka, ‘to create a relaxing atmosphere…’” (Smiley, 2014).
Similar to Abercrombie & Fitch, Lincoln’s subtle scent infusion allows its customers to make an
emotional connection to the store and the brand itself.
Marketers can infuse scents to influence their customers in the following ways: as a
marketer scent, product scent, or an ambient scent. Marketer scents are used as promotional
tactics, and these types of scents are used to attract consumers to specific products or services.
An example of a marketer scent would be the new car smell found often at automotive
dealerships (Bradford & Desrochers, 2009, p. 143). Product scents are exactly what they sound
like — product scents are the actual products themselves. Examples of product scents include:
air fresheners, perfumes, colognes, candles, and scent machines. Ambient scents are scents that
do not come from a specific product. They are classified as general odors which are apart of
their respective retail environments (Bradford & Desrochers, 2009, p. 143). Examples of
ambient scents can be found in the Abercrombie & Fitch and Lincoln examples mentioned
Benefits of Scent Marketing
Research shows that scent marketing may be one of the most important aspects of
sensory marketing as a whole. Studies show that 1% of people remember what they touch, 2%
remember what they hear, 5% remember what they see, 15% remember what they taste, and 35%
remember what they smell (Why and How Scent Marketing Works, 2015). Interestingly enough,
this research suggests that scent dictates the strongest human reaction to the surrounding
environment, thus directly effecting human behavior. This gives marketers a big opportunity to
take advantage of this scent reaction.
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Scent utilization helps create desires for specific products. For example, Cinnabon places
ovens near the entrances of its stores so that the smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls is emitted
every time their oven doors are opened. Their cinnamon rolls are baked every 30 minutes, and
some store bakers are told to heat additional trays of brown sugar and cinnamon to keep the scent
fresh in the air. “Cinnabon stores are intentionally located in malls or airports, not outside, so
smells can linger” (Nassauer, 2014). This aroma infusion has become a huge aspect of the
company’s marketing strategy, as they have found that putting ovens in the back of stores
significantly lowers their sales (Nassauer, 2014).
Scent utilization also encourages consumers to spend more time in a specific
environment. The right type of scent has the power to enhance the visit for a store’s customers,
and thus, make them want to spend more time in that specific setting. Retailers use scents to
evoke certain emotional responses from their consumers — like happiness and relaxation. These
emotions help create a more pleasant consumer shopping experience. Lavender is often used to
subtly slow down heartbeat rates, and thus, make consumers’ perceptions of time slow also
down. In turn, consumers end up spending more time in the store, which increases their odds of
spending more money (Fahmy, 2010).
Finally, scent utilization can encourage consumers to spend more money. Eric
Spangenberg, dean of Washington State University College of Business, recently stated that
simple scents are the most effective scents to increase consumer spending. During his own
academic research, he found that when he exposed shoppers to both complex and simple scents,
the simple scent resulted in a significant bump in sales (Walford, 2012). Spangenberg stated that
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consumers are able to recognize and process simple scents easier. This often unconscious
recognition results in them spending more money.
In conclusion, scents have a powerful effect on consumer behavior, and if used correctly,
can offer many benefits to businesses and marketers alike. Researchers Madzharov, Block, and
Morrin found that the inclusion of a warm ambient scent has the power to make consumers
purchase more prestige products and more products overall. Researchers Krashna, Morrin, and
Sayin found that something as simple as smelling a food scent can increase salivation levels.
This increases the desire for food products and increases overall consumption levels. Marketers
are taking note of these studies, and businesses are implementing these results into their retail
environments. Abercrombie & Fitch and Ford Motor Company both infuse ambient scents into
their stores to allow their customers to make an emotional connection the brands themselves.
Cinnabon positions their ovens near their doors to increase the public’s desire for their cinnamon
rolls. Retailers often emit scents like lavender into their stores to encourage their customers to
stay longer and even spend more money. As marketers look towards the future of scent
marketing, they can only expect this emerging and profitable field to gain more exposure and
popularity as other industries attempt their own types of sensory infusion.
Jamie Huggins IMC 612 — Wk 9 Final Paper !9
Bradford, K. & Desrochers, D. (2009). The Use of Scents to Influence Consumers: The Sense of
Using Scents to Make Cents. 90(2), 141-153. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://
Fahmy, D. (2012, July 1). Smells Like Profit: Scents in Stores, on Products, Makes Shoppers
Buy More. ABC News. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://abcnews.go.com/Business/
Krashna, A., Morrin, M., & Sayin, E. (2013, December ). Smellizing Cookies and Salivating: A
Focus on Olfactory Imagery. 41(1), 18-25. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://
Madzharov, A., Block, L., & Morrin, M. (2015, January). The Cool Scent of Power: Effects of
Ambient Scent on Consumer Preferences and Choice Behavior. 79(1), 83-93. Retrieved
May 18, 2015, from http://journals.ama.org.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/doi/abs/10.1509/jm.
Nassaur, S. (2014, May 20). Using Scent as a Marketing Tool, Stores Hope It — and Shoppers
— Will Linger. WSJ. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/
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Photo + Fragrance of Chocolate Cake = More Chocolate Cakes Sold. (2014, February 11).
Journals Division. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://www.jcr-admin.org/files/
Smily, M. (2014, December 9). Dollars & Scents: From Clothes to Cars to Banks, Brands Seek
Distinction Through Fragrance. AdAge. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://adage.com/
Solomon, M. (2013). Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being. (10th ed., pp. 49-53).
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Walford, C. (2012, November 27). Scent-imental Value: How Shoppers are Encouraged to Spend
by Simple Smells That They Instantly Recognize. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://
Why and How Scent Marketing Works. (2015). Scent Marketing USA. Retrieved May 18, 2015,