The Retail Science of Scent

Posted on: September 26th, 2014 by Rob Baumhover


HME Retailers,

Have you ever walked into a retail store that smelled of vanilla or brown sugar and were reminded of your mother’s delicious cookies? Or have you encountered a store that smelled like woodsy pine trees and were taken back to your favorite family camping trip? What was your emotional reaction to those scents? If they were positive or negative responses, did your impression of the store or your buying behavior change accordingly?

Chances are they did – And those retailers knew what they were doing!

There’s a calculated retail science to using scent to positively impact your store environment and your customers’ shopping experience. Our olfactory nerves, or our smell receptors, are closely connected with two parts of our brain that control our emotions and memories, the amygdala and the hippocampus. Because of this, experiencing particular scents can elicit certain emotions and bring forth vivid memories.

As a retailer, you can use this anatomical characteristic and the power of scent to your advantage. The following 3 tips can help you to create an inviting, positive atmosphere in your retail showroom through enticing aromas:

      1. To invigorate customers: Use scents like cinnamon, spiced apple, pine or peppermint. These are proven to increase energy levels.

      2. Citrus smells tend to ease depression. Grapefruit, lemon, orange, and tangerine increase serotonin production, a “happiness chemical.”

      3. Avoid scents with negative connects, as they will elicit negative emotions. For example, many people dislike going to the hospital, so avoid letting your HME showroom resemble or smell like the sterility of a hospital ward or the doctor’s office. Try to use cleaning products with natural, citrus scents, and consider investing in a scent diffusing device (scented oil diffusers or candle wax melts work well and are relatively inexpensive).

To learn more about the Science of Retail and how to create a positive store environment for your customers, contact us today!