Scent – the new ingredient that enhances the product experience

Scent Is the Untapped Sense

The most powerful sense we possess is our sense of smell. It is instantaneous and can induce a tidal wave of emotional memories and moods. Our scent receptors connect directly to the section of the brain that is responsible for memory and emotion. According to Martin Lindstrom author of Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy: “75% of the emotions we generate daily are affected by smell. Next to sight, it is the most important sense we have. Also noted was that that brand impact increased by 30% when more than one sense is engaged and by 70% when three senses are integrated into the brand message.”  With numbers like that, it’s obvious why marketers are quickly adding scent into their product and brand mixes. 

Scents have the unique ability to transport us backwards, to a particular place and time, linking us immediately to a specific memory or feeling. Scents that we experience in the present can also create this same impermeable bond – with a location, such as a hotel lobby, while riding inside a vehicle, or simply in a home setting.  It is no surprise that brand and product marketers are now adding scents to their product mix to create this bond with their customers. 

Scents link us to certain moods and emotional states because they stem from our past experiences and something known as “associative learning.” “We know that the neurological substrates of olfaction are especially geared for associative learning and emotional processing. The olfactory bulbs are part of the limbic system and directly connect with limbic structures that process emotion (the amygdala) and associative learning (the hippocampus). No other sensory system has this type of intimate link with the neural areas of emotion and associative learning, therefore there is a strong neurological basis for why odors trigger emotional connections.“ [Scientific America]

Enhancing a Product or Service Offering by Incorporating Scent

No market is more in need of a scent-based solution than the Rideshare market. By incorporating scent diffusers in rideshare vehicles, passengers can book a “wellness ride” and benefit from a more enjoyable and healthier trip through the power of scent. Using a mobile app, riders can select one of four in-vehicle fragrances that promote wellness, eliminate odors, or reduce mild cases of motion sickness. In-vehicle digital scent diffusers and associated scent cartridges enable riders to release the right scent to create the specific experience or mood they desire. Riders can choose a scent to relax and unwind, stay alert and invigorated, be fresh and healthy, or reduce mild motion sickness.

Similarly, in the automotive OEM market, a focus to add scent in vehicles is underfoot, or should we say under-nose. Car manufacturers and their Tier1 suppliers are beginning to design and incorporate scent diffusers to higher-end models. By adding scent, car manufacturers are giving consumers a unique immersive environmental cabin experience – separate and removed from the noisy, chaotic, and blustery world outside the vehicle.  This enhanced experience can be adapted to the desired experience, mood, or ever well-being the driver or passengers desire. Multi-scent distribution systems can be mapped to other environmental parameters within the vehicle such as temperature, lighting, music and seat position… to achieve the experience desired.  You can select “let’s get going” to prepare for your workday. Or, you can select “unwind and relax” for the drive home in the evening.  You can even select specific scents to enhance wellbeing and reduce the possibility of motion or car sickness. 

Scents have an impact on our mood and well-being. 

By adding a scent into the product mix, not only can a long-term bond be created between a consumer and the brand, but an elevated experience can be achieved as well. There is much scientific evidence that different types of scents can induce different moods and feelings.  For example, a citrus fragrance such as lemon, is known to be invigorating and can elevate excitement. While lavender is calming and is typically used to help slow down and relax, and even aid in getting to sleep. 

“Peppermint is generally invigorating. ‘Peppermint scent increases activity in the brain area that wakes us up in the morning,’ says Bryan Raudenbush, a psychologist at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. His research has shown that exercisers run faster and do more push-ups when exposed to the scent.

Jasmine is a sleep aid. ‘Our research has shown that the scent of jasmine in your bedroom leads to a more restful night of sleep and a greater level of alertness the following day,’ Raudenbush says. Other labs have found that the scent increases the brain waves associated with deep sleep.

Lavender is generally relaxing. Exposure to lavender scent can decrease heart rate. Use the scent for unwinding at bedtime, suggests Avery Gilbert, a sensory psychologist in Montclair, New Jersey.

Vanilla abets weight loss. Herz finds that it works as a replacement for the pleasure that you would get from eating sweets—but without the calories.”    Psychology Today

Product Placement and Scent Placement

In today’s hyper-competitive service market, marketers are increasingly adding scent into their product mix. As you enter an upscale hotel lobby, and even your specific hotel room, you are now surrounded with the establishment’s “signature scent.”  Using scent, they are creating a very unique memory and a strong mental bond between consumer and their brand. In the near future you’ll also be able to select the scent of your choice in your room, creating and enhancing the mood you desire to be in.  A mood that can change throughout the day – to awaken you, to energize you, calm you and ultimately relax and help get you to sleep.

Scents have always been available, but now with new digital delivery technologies, specific scents can be delivered when and where marketeers need them – and within the context of their products and services.  We are well beyond the traditional oil-and-wick based scent distribution platforms.  There are now scent technology platforms that can that deliver specific fragrances in a manner that aligns to the consumer’s mood or elevate their product experience.