Consider that 75% of emotions are triggered by smell, and that odors can be recalled with 65% accuracy after a year (versus 50% accuracy for visual stimuli after only three months). The sensory marketing consultancy Brandessence overviews the science behind smell: "When inhaled, these odor molecules travel into the nose and interact with odor receptors. The odor receptors then transmit the information to the olfactory bulb, which is located in the brain’s limbic system. The limbic system also controls memory and emotions, and is connected to the pituitary gland and hypothalamus area that controls the release of hormones that affect our appetite, nervous system, body temperature, stress levels, and concentration. Since the olfactory system is located in the brain, the sense of smell is closely tied to memory, mood, stress, and concentration." Comparing olfaction to the other senses, the marketing agency Eventige refers to a Rockefeller University study that concluded short-term memory is limited to 1% of what we touch (haptics), 2% of what we hear (audition), 5% of what we see (optics), 15% of what we taste (gustation), and 35% of what we smell (olfaction). The significance of scent should be obvious from these facts.
The Nose Knows
- Scent diffusers at Westin Hotels & Resorts offer whiffs of white tea throughout public spaces.
- W Hotels also sells its signature guestroom scent, a "playful fragrance" combining lemon and lime blossoms. W's "Room Scent No. 5" was also the subject of controversy when the secretive citron blend was sold on ebay for several hundred dollars.
- Thompson Chicago, one of the top-rated luxury hotels in America, crafted "Velvet," its custom blend of leather, aubergine, amber, smoky cedar wood, and fresh tobacco hues.
Product scent may be particularly effective at enhancing memory for product information as a function of its ability to enhance a product’s distinctiveness within its surrounding context.
- Aradhna Krishna, May Lwin & Maureen Morrin
- Sage reduces depression, instills a sense of hopefulness, and simplifies mental processing.
- Bergamot's calming hues relax brain waves as a natural sedative.
- Citric tones, such as those from oranges, stimulate brain waves.
- Peppermint can increase alertness and concentration and may induce higher levels of kinesthetic activity.
- Rosemary engages the nervous system and can amplify memory and energy levels.
Olfactory marketing is not always subliminal. In fact, it can reach viral appeal through novelty. Burger King is advertising the release of a Whopper-scented cologne in Japanese stores on April 1, 2015; their fragrance "Flame" appeared in the U.S. several years ago, offering brand loyalists or novelty seekers the opportunity to smell like their flame-broiled burgers. In Canada, Pizza Hut showcased a limited-edition perfume "Eau de Pizza Hut," highlighting "top notes of freshly baked, hand-tossed notes." Sales of these products in restricted geographies on limited dates and with typically fixed quantities available for purchase suggest the perfumed ploys are gimmicks aimed at sensationalizing the brands instead of making legitimate attempts at sharing their smells. Regardless, these examples highlight the validity of olfactory marketing within the scope of brand management.