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Hidden persuaders influence what products are bought and how customers rate the shopping experience. They include aromas that increase spending, music that boosts profits, colors that enhance sales, and font choices that can make or break a purchase.

This article discusses how they work—and how you can make them work for you.

Consumers move through a glittering haze of commercial messages. At every second their brains are bombarded by around eleven million bits of information. But they can consciously attend to just 16 of them!

The rest of the information is not ignored, however. Far from it. Most is processed by the subconscious mind, where it influences what they buy, how much they spend, how long they shop for, and how well or badly they subsequently rate the shopping experience.

Although hidden persuaders operate via all the senses, one of the most neglected yet most powerful of these is the sense of smell.

The Smell of Success

Because our nasal epithelium—which enables us to detect smells—is connected directly to the brain, even a few molecules of an aroma are sufficient to evoke subconscious memories and trigger either a desire or a reluctance to spend.

The use of newly baked bread or freshly ground coffee to stimulate sales is widely known, but even the most subtle of smells can exert a significant influence.

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image of David Lewis

Dr. David Lewis is the author of The Brain Sell: When Science Meets Shopping (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, April 15, 2014) and chairman of the UK-based research consultancy Mindlab International. He explains how customers' actions and feelings are influenced by aspects of their surroundings they are never consciously aware of.

LinkedIn: David Lewis-Hodgson