The scent of hot coffee in the morning. The smell of a steak on the grill. The odor of a college locker room. For good or for bad, we all know the power of smell, don’t we?
Precisely for that reason, Dan Offerman runs a company called SmartFragrances based in Ramsey, New Jersey (Christopher Bonanos, “The Story of Four Breakthroughs—Interviews” Bloomberg Businessweek 1/28/13–2/3/13, pp. 62–66). As the name implies, his company’s mission is all about smell—getting smart about the right smell. Offerman works with clients (usually retail stores or other consumer sales locations) to create just the right pleasant and enticing smell to enhance the atmosphere sensually and psychologically.
We can all think of experiences of entering a store and immediately picking up on a scent—sometimes very good, and sometimes very bad. Good or bad, it all added to our customer experience. Scents used vary widely depending on the client’s type of business and setting. Offerman elaborates:
“It depends on the customer. In the Miami area, we’re doing bookstores with a coffee fragrance. We’re also looking to do this in food, to promote things like bakeries or deli meats in grocers. Or a ship, for example: If it’s a Caribbean cruise line, is it floral? Is it passion fruit?” (p. 66)
Smell is so personal. After all, what you think you smell might be very different from what I think I smell. Therefore, Offerman brings the client directly into the scent-development process:
“We have what’s called a smart box. It’s full of little pipettes, and it allows the customer to zero in on what they like. It empowers them, and we make progress faster.”
Once the scent formulation is finalized, SmartFragrances installs an attachment unit onto the client’s ventilation system. Using a nanodiffusion process, the scent is released into the atmosphere for all to enjoy.
We certainly understand scent all by itself does not make the customer buy your product or become instantly endeared to your brand. Nevertheless, scent can be a powerful contributor to the customer experience, and anything that improves the customer experience tends to improve sales. Additionally, the customer’s brand connection intensifies:
“It’s another way of branding, tapping an additional sense to help you promote the company or a product.”
High tech has finally caught up with the real estate agent who told you to be sure to have just baked an apple pie before leaving the house for its showing. Whether it’s coffee, citrus, vanilla, or apple pie, we know it works. And it will probably keep on working for a very long time—as long as we have noses anyway.
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