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The Effect of Scent on Consumer Behavior

Deciding to use ambient scent for your business is truly a numbers game. The human nose is capable of detecting about 10,000 separate smells. Ironically, the majority of consumers also make approximately the same amount of decisions each day with most of those revolving around purchasing something, and about 90 percent of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. This means that our purchases are impulsive for many of us, and that marketers can capitalize on this subconscious decision-making with things like music, lighting and scent.


This sounds crazy, right? We can look to a few big examples for proof.


In 1993, Alan Hirsch conducted a survey for Nike that proved people would buy more shoes at higher prices if the shopping area smelled like flowers. To prove this, he took two pairs of Nike running shoes and placed them in rooms that were identical except for the fact that one was perfumed and the other was not. 84 percent of the participants indicated they were willing to pay as much as 10-20 percent more in the scented environments.


Casinos have been known for their use of scent since the 60’s. Though it was previously used primarily to mask the odor of cigarette smoke, scent can now be used to entice gamblers to stay and play. In 1995, Hirsch launched another study in the Las Vegas Hilton slot machine area. He determined that gamblers put 45 percent more change into the slots in the scented room and spent 50 percent more time playing the machines.


More recently, Samsung conducted a study centered around its signature scent in its New York flagships tore. It is a sharp and evocative scent with universal appeal. 89 percent of the consumers polled reported the scent made the shopping experience more pleasant. 66 percent reported they remained in the store longer because of the scent and 36 percent indicated the scent made them want to explore more product.


It’s clear more than ever that scents can powerfully trigger consumer behavior. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve and begin your ambient scent marketing strategy. Call us today at (405) 670-5600 to schedule a consultation for your business with one of our experts.

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