How Does Scent Marketing Work?

Have you ever been influenced by a scent?

The power that different smells have over people is immense. From avoiding eating something simply because of its smell to being transported back to an almost forgotten memory by the whiff of a scent, there’s no denying the strength of this sense. 

So, really, it should come as no surprise that scent marketing exists. Using smells to encourage shoppers to purchase certain items is something that humans have been doing for hundreds of years, and if you don’t know about it now’s the time to change that!

Find out all about aroma marketing in our guide.

What is Scent Marketing?

Let’s start by looking at what is scent marketing?

When brands set up a store, there are so many important factors to consider that could influence their success. From the color of the sign above their window to the arrangement of their products, it all makes a difference! Increasingly, scent is becoming one of these major factors that can make or break a brand.

Scent marketing is the strategic use of carefully selected smells around a store or a branded establishment, like a hotel or restaurant. The idea of using scent is to create a truly immersive experience, one that can be conjured up with just a hint of a smell. Some common examples of scent used purposefully in branding is the overwhelming smell of coffee in Starbucks – far stronger than any other cafe! – and the scent of popcorn in cinemas.

These fragrances are used purposefully to enhance the consumer’s experience and even to influence their behaviour. But, why? How does this work?

How Scent Influences Human Behaviour

To understand more about the purpose of fragrance in branding, you first need to understand the science behind scent marketing and how smells influence human behaviour. 

The human nose can detect a whopping 1 trillion different odors, which is insane when you really think about it! Our ability to smell things is incredible, and it can play a large part in our behaviour. In fact, an odor can even affect your mood.

But, you need to build up an experience with an odor before this can happen. This is known as associative learning, and it refers to the linking of an event, item, or in this case smell, is linked to something else based on the person’s past experience with it. The smell soon becomes a stimulus that elicits a certain response, like a mood, and our brains react quickly and subconsciously.

No other sense works quite like this. This is a biological reaction that was meant to keep us safe when we were hunters and gatherers, helping humans avoid situations that have led to bad results before and helping them avoid danger. To put it simply, certain smells elicit good responses, while other elicit negative responses. 

It’s this reaction that can be used in marketing.

How Marketers Use Scent

As humans, we place huge importance on our senses to navigate the world around us. If brands can create positive emotions and reactions is their audience based purely on scents, they’re onto a winner. As soon as you associate happy thoughts or positive memories with a brand, you’re so much more likely to go back there. 

Scent can have a variety of positive effects from a marketing point of view. It’s been shown that shoppers who enjoy the smell of a store will stay in it longer, increasing their likelihood of making a purchase. Nike found that scent marketing increases their customers’ intent to purchase by up to 80% in-store, while a gas station saw coffee sales increase by a whopping 300% when they started using the scent of fresh-brewed coffee to entice customers.

It can also create instant feelings of familiarity with a brand, create better brand recognition, and improve the quality of a business in the eyes of its customers. The introduction of scent for these purposes is also known as ambient scent, and it could be the answer to your brand’s success.

Different Types of Scent Marketing Done Right

There are plenty of different examples of scent marketing out there. To give you some inspiration and a deeper look into how this science can be put to practice, let’s take a look at some of the best scent marketing examples out there.


Did you know that Cinnabon picks their locations in spots where their scent will be trapped? This means that their sweet, cinnamon smell that’s so enticing will be super strong to passers-by.

Burger King

Burger King use their vents cleverly to pump out the smell of their tasty burgers, making those passing by or inside already feel more hungry than they may actually be! Resiting images of burgers is easy, but resisting the smell? That’s a whole different level of self-control.

Singapore Airlines

The stale smell of an aeroplane wasn’t pleasant, and Singapore Airlines noticed this 30 years ago. To counter it, they developed a calming, floral and citrus fragrance to spray on their hot towels to add a more pleasant feeling to the journey and to make passengers feel more relaxed. The scent was so popular they even ended up giving their calming fragrance a name; Stefan Floridian Waters.

They’re not the only airline doing this now. In fact, almost every aeroplane is infused with scents designed to calm you and enhance your experience.

Start Your Own Scent Marketing Campaign

Scent is one of the most powerful ways to trigger different emotional responses in people. It’s been shown time and time again to improve sales and create more recognizable brands, yet there are still so many companies out there who aren’t using it. Whether you’re a store, a hotel, a theater or any other establishment, we can help you create a scent marketing campaign that appeals to your specific audience.

Find out more by getting in touch with our team and let’s transform your brand with the power of perfume.

    Contattaci e approfondisci l'argomento!

    Profumi per ristoranti: creare atmosfera con le fragranze giuste

    Rendi la tua proposta gastronomica una vera esperienza immersiva, grazie al marketing olfattivo.

    Leggi di più
    Profumi per SPA: essenze rilassanti per centri benessere

    Il marketing olfattivo applicato al retail trae la sua forza dalle fragranze più coinvolgenti e personalizzate.

    Leggi di più
    Profumi per negozi: il loro ruolo (+ caso studio)

    Il marketing olfattivo applicato al retail trae la sua forza dalle fragranze più coinvolgenti e personalizzate.

    Leggi di più
    Scent Company arrow return top