Start Making Scents

Scents in retail spaces have gone from masking odors or freshening up the air to becoming part of a sensory marketing strategy. Appealing to sights, sounds and tastes are established and engrained retail behaviors. In recent years jewelry store owners with a nose for savvy retailing are embracing scent-marketing with sophisticated custom scents that are part of a complete branding package that satisfies all the senses. 

Much like Pantone’s anticipated release of the “color of the year” or the “hot color for the season,” the scent-making and scent-marketing specialists at Air Esscentials have recently shared their top scent picks for the current holiday season and have some predictions for favorable retail scents in 2011.

For this holiday season, retail scents should include: “Anything with cinnamon in it,” says Marc Levy, the executive vice president of sales for Air Esscentials. “Men especially are very receptive to cinnamon.”

But having just cinnamon won’t satisfy today’s sophisticated customers. To really bring in the customers, or to keep them hovering at the showroom’s point-of-purchase area, a store owner must combine the cinnamon scent with other scents. Some Christmas 2010 scent suggestions from Levy that would go well cinnamon include: gingerbread, apple pie, pumpkin pie and vanilla.

For the doubting Thomas types out there who think this is one of those far out trends that doesn’t affect them, here’s some smelling salt for you. Gem and jewelry industry buying groups such as CBG (Continental Buying Group) and IJO (Independent Jewelers Organization) have had Air Esscentials create custom scents for their events. The Coconut Grove, Fla.-based company has even worked with the organizers of the JCK Las Vegas Show to create a signature scent for that annual event.

Need more proof that scent-marketing trend has already arrived for your retailing peers? Mark and Monika Clodius, of Clodius & Co. Jewelers, introduced their customers to the custom scent last year at this time.

Monika describes the custom scent as: “Very clean. It’s a vanilla scent plus a cedar wood smell with a hint of spice. It’s very subtle and not at all overpowering.” This coming from the store’s vice president, who along with some staff members, are allergy sufferers. 

Monika and Mark decided to get a custom scent last year when the couple wanted to offer a more complete shopping experience for their customers. As it turned out, the custom scent came at a good time given the economy.

“People who came in wanted to spend money on jewelry with us,” says Monika. “But you could tell some people were wrestling with their purchasing decisions in such uncertain times. Last Christmas, with the scent in the store, people’s stress seemed to be reduced and they were calmer.”

Anecdotally, Monika and Mark have noticed that business over the last year has improved. Their custom scent isn’t the key factor, but Monika is convinced that the custom scent has definitely helped. “People remark that the scent is part of the store’s overall ambience and, that it’s a good tie-in to our store,” says Monika.

Steve Semoff, the acting co-president of the Scent Marketing Institute (SMI), agrees on the branding power of a custom scent for a retail store – especially a jewelry store that sells emotion.

“Scent marketing is an essential part of any serious effort in brand development,” says Semoff. “A person’s sense of smell is hard-wired to the emotional side of the brain.”

The irony of marketing to the senses is a person’s sense of smell is the most powerful but is also the most underutilized. Studies conducted by various research groups and universities since 2005 clearly demonstrate that when a desirable scent is delivered properly at the point-of-purchase sales go up.

“Customers tend to linger longer in areas that smell nice. In fact, studies show it’s up to 40 percent longer,” according to an article from Business Voice

Finding the right aroma is crucial. For a retail jewelry store owner, determine the target demographic: for the sake of discussion let’s say that demographic is women from 26 to 35. Work with a scent making and marketing specialists to find the most desirable scent for this group of women in your market.

Then do some scent testing on your staff, and a select group of customers in that demographic range. When a store owner has hit on a winner, make that custom scent part of the scent-marketing strategy and ultimately up your branding power. 

For store owners looking to scent up a small confined space such as a showroom using today’s environmental control systems, Semoff suggests: “The best delivery system for a custom scent is having a scent reservoir of pure liquid perfume oil and a nebulizer that sends the scent into a store’s HVA/C system.”    

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The scent picks for 2011. In Levy’s overview of the scent-marketing scene, retail scents will become more sophisticated with designer scents that have multiple layers to them. Scents that have more “sex appeal” and a “sensual appeal” will most likely work best next year, according to Levy.

What scent combination will give retailers that magical sensual sensory appeal? “Scents that are sweet with an earthy undertone, like cedar, will be the hot scent for 2011,” says Levy.

There you have it. For retailers looking to better brand their store experience with scent-marketing, you better get your nose to the grindstone – the grindstone that is producing cedar chips that is.