Scent marketing is a type of sensory marketing targeting a shopper’s sense of smell. It involves diffusing strategically chosen scents at different locations in your store. The goal is to create a memorable, pleasant shopping experience and increase sales. 

Ambient scents have been used throughout history in nearly every ancient society. Clocks in ancient Japan burned a different incense every 15 minutes. Pharaohs adorned themselves with lavish fragrances to alert people of their arrival. Ancient Roman pets were blessed with fragrant oils.

Scent is our oldest and most evolved sense. And today it’s used as a marketing tool by retailers to attract, delight, and convert in-store shoppers. 

Research has shown that scent marketing can raise retail store sales by 11% and increase customer satisfaction scores by 20%.

What is scent marketing?

Retail spaces have plenty to consider when creating the right atmosphere to suit the products they’re selling. Location, decor, employee uniforms, lighting, art, temperature, music, and, increasingly, smell all combine to create an immersive brand experience. Think of some of the most popular retail locations and you’ll understand what I mean.

Often an afterthought, scent marketing involves using carefully chosen fragrances at different customer touchpoints. The right scent featured in your store builds a powerful, long-lasting association with it and communicates your brand identity. Some 75% of emotions generated every day are due to smell, which makes scent marketing critical in driving sales in - store.

Studies show that visual recall of images sinks to about 50% after only three months. Yet, humans can recall smells with 65% accuracy after an entire year.

Purposeful scents allow stores to create emotional connections with customers, plus offer the following benefits: 

  • Link memory and emotion. Memorable scents cause customers to remember your store.
  • Communicates value and drives sales. Customers spend more in a store that smells good. 
  • Builds brand loyalty and image. People can relate scent to memory.

Depending on the size of your store and scenting method, deploying a scent can cost between $100 and $1,000. Businesses with a smaller budget can easily start with a diffuser and essential oil and see higher customer satisfaction and more sales. 


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