Smell and Motivation

Vegan cinnamon rolls by flickr user @thecraftykitty

 TIL: The smell of chocolate will make you DO THINGS.

I hate to sound like a broken record when I go on and on about the power of good smells, but...what can I say? I'm in the business of selling you  aromatherapy mood sprays.  I want you to know how your sense of smell can influence emotional and behavioral decision-making.

Case in point: A research team from Hasselt University in Belgium pumped the smell of chocolate into the air at small bookstores and examined the browsing and purchasing behaviors of customers.

When the scent of chocolate was in the air, the research team observed that shoppers were 2.22 more likely than the control group to linger in the store, browsing multiple shelves before making a purchase.Book store sales increased 40 percent and customers made different choices. They more likely (than the control group) to purchase romance or cookbooks than thrillers or history titles.

Study director Lieve Doucé concludes, “Retailers can make use of pleasant ambient scents to improve the store environment, leading consumers to explore the store.” The chocolate study's methodology and complete findings can be found in the  Journal of Environmental Psychology.  

Pumping scent into shopping area is not a new concept. Smell brings up powerful associations in the brain - and marketers use those associations to get you to buy their products. The industry calls it "aroma marketing" or "ambient scent marketing." Realtors bake cookies before an open house. Big box stores often scent near their checkout registers and in dressing rooms.

Most of the time you won't be able to detect the subtle scents used in big stores. At other times, retailers go "over the top" to drive the point home. The Cinnabon chain is a true master of aroma marketing - when have you ever walked past a Cinnabon store and *not* caught the scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns?  Subway also knows that the smell of fresh-baked rolls for their sandwiches. You think of comfort, you think of Grandma on the happy Sunday mornings of your childhood, you think you eat well enough most of the time to deserve a treat and this one just happens to be freshly made...

FOOD FOR THOUGHT. The lovely Vegan cinnamon roll image credits go to Flickr user Stephanie Stanesby, aka "The Crafty Kitty."

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