Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Take a whiff - Marketing's in the air

The latest MarketingProf's newsletter has an article on Scent Branding that's definitely worth a read. Scent branding is, apparently, a discipline of its own (there's even a Scent Marketing Institute!). Author Leigh Duncan explains, "Used in the right way, scent branding can enhance customer (or personal) experience in a pleasurable manner. The use of scent branding in consumer purchasing environments has been shown to be influential in driving consumer purchasing as well." She also cautions would be scent-marketers to make some considerations before heaping on the perfume, such as don't depend on scent alone to build your brand.

What I found most fascinating are the organizations putting scents to work. Duncan mentions a company called Scent Air that is a provider of "in-store scent solutions." When I discovered that one of their clients is a museum, I did a little digging on their site to find out more. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis used scents of the rainforest and dinosaur dung (yep, you read that right) in its dinosaur exhibit. Also interesting, Florida Hospital used scents to decrease patients' stress and cancellation rates when they came in for MRI's. They decorated their MRI department with a beach theme, complete with the smells of coconut and ocean.

Do we think about smells when we design our spaces? Would the eye-opening smell of citrus perk up students during late-night study sessions? Would the relaxing smell of lavender make leisure reading more pleasurable for patrons? Scent is not a magic bullet, but it's fun to think about how a subtle waft of fragrance can help reinforce and define spaces while reinforcing and shaping our image.

Update: LISNews mentions an article that describes what libraries can learn from bookstores, including how to use scents.


Paul said...

This idea stinks.

Jill said...

It sure does! ;-)

ultimatebookwyrm said...

I think it's a terrible idea. I used to work in a retail store in the summers, where they used a scent that was supposed to make people want to buy things.

Every summer when I started working there again, I came home with a pounding headache. After about a week, I would get used to it, but I'm sure it was killing lots of brain cells.

I have stopped shopping at certain stores because they have smells in the air. Chapters is one example. We wouldn't want people avoiding the library just because there is a scent in the air.

Finally, I once had an allergic reaction from a perfume in a local store - I went into anaphylactic shock and ended up going to the hospital. Later, the store refused to tell me what perfume it was - I think they were afraid that I was going to sue them. Anyway, trust me, scents in the air are a very bad idea.

Jill said...

Hi, Bookwyrm!

Thanks for the comment. What horrible experiences you've had! You bring out some good points. If you read the article I referred to, the author mentions considerations/concerns like yours. For example, she notes that people resent overly-obvious scents; that people interpret scents differently; and that some can have strong negative physical reactions to scent.

Thanks for bringing out this side of the discussion.