Grabbing Them By the Nose: A Business Owner’s Guide to Scent Marketing


There’s no shortage of marketing methods in the business world these days. From content marketing and email marketing to social media, direct mail, and even relationship marketing, the list goes on and on and on.

And for good reason. With 50% of businesses failing within 5 years of starting out, it’s crucial to leverage as many avenues as possible to get your products and services in front of an audience.

However, there’s one particular area of marketing that few business owners give enough attention to. It’s called scent marketing, and it’s all about using gorgeous scents to impact customer emotions and create an unforgettable experience in your store.

Do it right and you’ll enjoy more than a mere whiff of success! Want to learn all about this novel marketing method and how to leverage it in your business? Keep reading for our top tips and insights on mastering scent marketing.

Understand the Danger of Bad Smells

Imagine walking into a fancy hotel room. It’s as luxurious as you’d expected, with modern furnishings, a modern décor, and an outstanding view from the window. There’s even soft background music playing and your favorite chocolates sitting on the pillow.

Everything looks and sounds perfect. But then you notice the smell. It’s ghastly, putrid, and makes you want to pinch your nose in horror.

What are you likely to remember most about that experience?! The pristine aesthetics or the awful odor in the air?! The latter, of course- you’d go home and tell your friends about it, moan about it on social media, and probably make a complaint to the hotel itself.

This example demonstrates the importance of scent in your business.

It’s not enough to focus purely on attractive sights and sounds. Mastering the art of odor elimination and scent enhancement plays another vital role in keeping customers happy.

Realize the Benefits of Scent Marketing

As we said at the start, relatively few business owners are yet to jump on the scent marketing bandwagon. Why? Because they don’t appreciate its true value!

Never underestimate the power of aromas.

As our previous example illustrates, scents (good or bad) are emotive in nature. They make people feel something (be it joy, disgust, nostalgia, or anything), which is then attached to the people/places on/in which they’ve smelled it. This all makes for a visceral experience that sticks out in peoples’ memories as a result.

Brands can use this phenomenon to their advantage. They can harness the power of a beautiful scent to create a memorable shopping experience for their customers. People will feel more positive in-store and remember your store thereafter- both of which should deliver a boost to sales.

Ensure the Scent Makes Sense

You don’t have to be a professional perfumer to know that not all scents are made equal. Even a child can tell you that some are good (like fried onions, fresh bread, mown grass, or wildflowers) and some are bad (like wet dogs, flatulence, or sewage)!

However, the differences between certain aromas can be far subtler than that too.

You might have two scents that are, for all intents and purposes, delightful. Yet one could be soporific while the other’s enlivening; one may instill nostalgia while the other brings delight, and so on. Regardless of specifics, these subtle distinctions in scent have very real and tangible effects.

And that’s an important detail when deciding one for your business! It’s up to you to find an aroma that matches your brand, vision, and intent. For example, a hotel spa would probably want a scent that’s calming and sleep-inducing, whereas a car salesman might want something more uplifting and energizing.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Obvious

The irony of scent marketing is that your customers don’t actually have to be able to smell anything! We know, it sounds counter-intuitive. But hear us out…

Think about background music in a bar/restaurant. You need some tunes in the background to create a sense of atmosphere and break up the silence. You don’t, however, want that music to be so loud that it’s distracting.

It’s a similar deal with scent. We all know those people who go overboard with their perfume or cologne. It’s overpowering and, in some cases, even offensive (no matter how nice the aroma is).

Keep that in mind in your business and treat scent marketing like background music. All scent marketing solutions should be present but subtle; enough to have an impact but never so much that it could be off-putting. Your customers will still be influenced by the aroma- even if they can’t smell it at a conscious level.

Be Practical

The first part of successful scent marketing is selecting the perfect fragrance. As we noted above, it should be on-brand, goal-related, and subtle (while sufficient to mask anything unpleasant). We suggest you work with a professional perfumer in the scent marketing industry for the best results here.

Next, though, you have to get practical.

With the scent sorted, it’s time to decide how and where you’ll release it into the air to deliver the best ROI. Most businesses use either stand-alone diffusers or their HVAC systems for the ‘how’. The ‘where can be a bit trickier’ though and often depends on your particular business.

For example, bakeries often blow their delicious aromas onto the street to entice people inside. The secret to your own success will depend on your store’s location, what you sell, how it’s set up inside, and the flow of foot traffic. Keep those factors in mind and focus the scent wherever it seems to make the most sense.

Don’t Forget About Scent Marketing in Your Business

Successful businesses are always on the hunt for new ways to market their products and services. They need to grow their brand, develop trust, convince customers to buy something and create a memorable shopping experience in the process. Of all the marketing methods that exist, scent marketing is second to none in each of these regards!

Alas, all too many business owners overlook it. With any luck, though, this post will change that. Keep these ideas and insights in mind and you should be a step closer to harnessing the power of this novel marketing method.

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