Strange but true: I learned about scent, or olfactory, marketing in a local men’s restroom. The men’s room was in a legitimate dining establishment – one of the region’s oldest – and I happened to occupy this space with a man who was attending the same event I was. Naturally, we exchanged pleasantries, including our respective vocations.
When he said he worked for a company that did scent research and sales, I just had to dig for more, especially considering our present environment.
What is scent marketing? I asked, incredulously.
He explained that as more and more businesses – restaurants and hotels, for example – search for ways to connect emotionally with customers that many have found the answer right under their nose – literally. Science has proven that smell is one of the strongest human senses and is closely linked with memory.
Think fresh cut grass. Wet paint. A campfire. An old girlfriend/boyfriend’s perfume/cologne.
Smells and scents connect us to unique life experiences. And whether we smell them at age 5 or 65, they elicit the same powerful emotions – emotions marketers hope will move us to make purchases that confirm, validate and sometimes even help us relive our most cherished experiences.
At Bon’s Eye Marketing, one of our biggest jobs is finding ways to help businesses appeal to their customers’ senses such that they engage, invest and return. Companies, and the products or services they provide, must be visually appealing, have a distinct message, and speak the ideals and language of their demographic.
And, now, according to some industry experts – and the fact that scent marketing is a $200 million a year business – marketers may well have to begin incorporating the proverbial sniff test in their client strategy.
BEM’s signature scent is Lemon-Rosemary. It permeates our studio office on 228 North Front Street in downtown Wilmington. It refreshes, invigorates and opens our minds to endless possibilities. We’d like to think it does the same for clients and all those who come and go here.
As for my fellow restroom-goer and scent marketing expert, I’ve never seen him again. His lesson in scent marketing has stuck, though, as now I look more and more to my nose for the things I see and want around me.
David Frederiksen, Creative Director