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Scent Branding: Smell of Success?

by Leigh Duncan-Durst  |  
January 30, 2007
  |  11,570 views

Recently, at the gym, I was pedaling away on the Arc Trainer when a cute 80-year-old lady came up and sat down on the recumbent bike next to me. She seemed innocent enough, until she turned out be an environmental affront! As I involuntarily placed my towel over my nose and mouth, I realized she had coated her coif with an overt amount of noxious hairspray. Her cheap perfume combined with the hairspray fumes, rising to assault my nose (and taste buds) and causing my lungs to constrict.

Now, this little old lady held herself with pride. She liked her hairdo and she liked her perfume: It occurred to me that this was a part of her little old lady brand! I dare say, she probably used those very things to snag herself a little old man somewhere along the way...

But for the gasping sweat hogs in the gym... the little old lady brand scent wasn't a good thing. I actually moved to another machineónext to a man who unfortunately smelled like curry (but we won't go there). Not a good gym day.

Lest I digress, I found this all ironic, because I had just started a piece on Scent Branding.

Scent Branding is a discipline of sensory or experiential marketing. It has been promoted by Gerald Zaltman and many others, including the Scent Marketing Institute, and has become a $14 billion global market for retailers and marketers looking to enhance brand experience.


Some may think "scent marketing" and identify with a company like Yankee Candle, which understands the power of scentóbut today's technology goes beyond melted wax, potpourri, and fragrant oils. Consumers can now purchase small scent-dispensing machines from the grocery store. Check out Febreeze's Scentstories, which uses fragrance discs to disperse scents like "Mountain Trail" and "Tropical Island" in the home. But, most significantly, scent technology today reaches far beyond the home.

While you may not realize it, you have probably been exposed to scent technology sometime within the last 60 days. Scent branding is being broadly deployed in major retail and boutique stores, airlines, museums, and other marketing venues across the globe, and in a neighborhood near you. This is not a new field, and the science of smell has been leveraged in product development for years.

So why all the commotion (articles in Forbes, USA Today, Washington Times, Ad Age) over Scent Marketing now? It's simple: The sense of smell is one of the strongest and most powerful triggers of emotional memory.


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Leigh Duncan Durst (leigh at livepath dot net) is a 20-year veteran of marketing, e-commerce, and business and the founder of Live Path (www.livepath.net).

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  • by karsten Thu Apr 7, 2011 via web

    Hi Leigh
    Actually I don't think you have such a thing as allergies to scent. However you do find a condition MCS which is terrible and unfortunately much more general that scent

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