The use of scent in retail – can aroma save the high street?

A bowl of sweets

According to a recent article on the PSFK website, the use of scent in retail or ‘scent marketing’ is about to revolutionise the customer experience. Retailers are looking to capitalise on the power of smell in store – to boost shopper’s mood, feeling and awareness of their environment.

Speaking to PSFK, scent expert, Olivia Jezler, suggests that until now scent was added to store designs as an afterthought. But now people are starting to catch on and capitalise on the power of using scent as an integral part of the retail experience:

“Smell is often brought in at the end of the process. It’s like, “Oh, just add in something here” to make it feel like this or that. If you’re working from the beginning with the sound designers and with the interior designers, you can work on creating the whole sensory branding, the brand guidebook of all the senses, materials and feelings. That is something that is definitely happening and is slowly reaching into the commercial space, so there’s more evidence-backed sensory experience design.”

Scent is more closely linked to memory and emotion than any of our other senses. This means that it is more likely to influence a customer’s attitude towards and perception of a brand. Recent research by Nike suggests that the use of in-store scent can increase a shopper’s intent to purchase by 80%. And a study by Ambius Premium Scenting – exploring the power of scent in stores – reports that it can significantly increase consumer engagement with a retail experience by as much as 38%.

Studies have proven that the right scent can evoke an atmosphere of quality and desirability in store. It can also increase the amount of time that customers are willing to spend in-store, by promoting relaxation, and reducing their perceived wait time by making the whole in-store experience more pleasant and enjoyable.

How we use scent in our retail designs

Here at Barber we have been using scent in our retail designs for quite some time. Most recently we had a great time testing out some delicious scents for a childrenswear store design that we are working on. The scents included bubblegum, popcorn, chocolate chip cookie, gingerbread and candy floss. Our office favourites were the honeysuckle and pink grapefruit and we have referred our findings back to the client for a final decision.

Scent samples in the Barber office

Are you using scent in your store design? Know of a shop that smells really good? Let us know in the comments section below!