Monday, December 7, 2009

What does your brand smell like?

By Tracy Pepe.

When managing your brands, the goal is to use new ways of interacting with, and engaging your customers. However, most brands usually end up doing more of the same thing - advertising that appeals to either or both audio or visual senses.

When it comes to marketing, a more effective tool offers a much deeper and long-lasting level. Smell Sells. It is a fact that the average human is 100 times more likely to remember a scent over something seen, heard, or touched. In fact, “memory for odor is markedly resistant to time, easily accessed and tends to be characterized by a degree of emotion, clarity and vividness.” (Laird 1935; Engen & Ross 1973; Hertz and Cupchik 1992)

For the last twenty-five years, various studies have been conducted to prove how scent enhances ones memory and causes consumers to spend more money. Such conclusions are supported by research from the Sense of Smell Institute, which found that “people can recall smells with 65 per cent accuracy after a year, while the visual recall of photos sinks to about 50 per cent after only three months.”

Developing high-impact and impressive visual and audio communications is something all brands should strive for, however, by adding the senses of smelling can create a deep-rooted communication.
Scent Marketing helps to differentiate a brands positioning. This tool adds longevity to branding and marketing efforts improving the return on investment while for consumers it makes the decision making process easier. Unfortunately, many brands have yet to discover ways to implement their brand scent into campaigns. “Playdough” is a great example - the aroma is very distinctive offering a key smell pad to consumers. Consumers who played with “Playdough” as a child, usually have a specific memory - fun like, creative, but ‘Playdough” the brand has failed to implement scent within their branding strategies - leaving the scent imagination to the consumer.

Unfortunately, many marketers have the incorrect impression that Scent Marketing is new - it is not. For decades, various major brands across the globe have used scent as a key touch pad for their brand. For example, Johnson & Johnson Baby products have a very specific aroma. The fragrance contains notes of vanilla and milk, aromas that suggest comfort and trust. Singapore Airlines matches the aroma in the cabin with the interior color scheme and the uniforms worn by flight attendants. Kernels Popcorn Company ensures popcorn is made at key times of a mall shoppers experience - the smell of fresh popcorn is a key subconscious clue to consumers to buy popcorn while they shop.

Recently a Canadian Grocery Retailer conducted a pilot of scent marketing. The purpose of the pilot was to assess the impact of a specific fragrance on buyer behavior in specific areas of the stores. The results were fascinating.

The client selected Dry Diffused Scented Banners as the application for the Scent Marketing. The Sillage, or scent trail creates an environment so customers linger longer. The objective of this “scent trail” is to have the customer follow their nose until they find the source of the aroma this behavior occurs on a sub-conscious level.

The key behaviors noted in the pilot are referred to as “ Stop and Seek.” Such behavior includes - eyes darting, eyebrows raise, and eyes widen to mention a few. The most obvious of these behaviors is a person stopping in the scent trail. One hundred and forty-five of the 289 observed shoppers (or 50%) stopped in the scent trail.

The pilot also demonstrated various consumer buyer behaviour such as “Sudden Stop”. This is when a customer is 'power shopping'. They are walking quickly, usually with a list in hand, and moving to target items very deliberately with no browsing. As they approached the scent trail, power shoppers would suddenly stop, this behavior lasted on average for twenty seven seconds.

The next common behaviour noted is referred to as “Circling”. This is when a customer is casually shopping. Walking at a more sedate pace. Stopping frequently to read labels and looking at products. When they arrived in the scented section, these people would circle the scent trail - twice, three times, up to five times. Through each circle, they would specifically return to the scented banner. They did not double back on their path elsewhere in the section.

The final behaviour observed was noted as - “Smelling the Box”. This pattern was most frequently observed when two people were shopping together. One individual is focused on the task, and the other aimlessly wanders directly to the scented area and would then exhibit one or all of the following - smells the product, smells the banner, or smells related products. The wanderer then calls the other shopper over to the area.

One key observation that was demonstrated is the “Halo Affect.” By scenting an area with a similar key scent attribute - there is a direct sales lift on all products. For example, if a vanilla note is used in a bakery area than all sweet goods will benefit from the aroma. This could be true if the smell of linen or cotton is associated with laundry care.

Adding scent to a store seems to be an easy solution. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that buying off-the-shelf aromas and implementing them the same day can create a scent experience. However, scent marketing is only effective when the fragrance emphasizes the brand and is strategically planned within a holistic campaign. Unfortunately, many marketers do not know what their brands smell like. The aroma needs to be faithful to the core brand message – after all, it is only this, which sets you apart from your competition.

The discussion has come up about what would be the smell of Mac Brand? Most people who have pondered this question, think the smell of an apple is a direct fit. However a fruit note would not support this brand in fact it would probably kill it. Better scent branding would include a fragrance with metallic notes that offer sharpness, combined with top notes that jump out, possibly found in accords of fresh linen or cotton. A Mac aromatic experience should suggest new, excitement and creativity.

Developing A Scent Brand experience should be based on the core brand identity. The fragrance should ensure that the aromatic message is unique, hard to imitate and appeal to the particular market segment. So the next time when your considering advertising that appeals to audio and visual senses - SMELL again!

Tracy Pepe is the founder of Nose Knows Consulting, one of a handful of companies, which offer scent customization for events and business. She is the author of the first book So, What’s all the sniff About?” published on environmental fragrancing. Tracy is the inventor of the dry diffused scented banner application - a unique patented process that uses fabric banners to release custom scent trails in retail spaces. As a perfumer and scent-marketing consultant Ms Pepe’s specialty lies in custom scent marketing campaigns. Join her while she hosts the first scented webinar on January 22nd, 2010 on the subject of Scent Marketing. To learn more visit,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"The best complaint letter ever?"

Submitted by Candace DeMeare

Hi guys,
I know this is old news, but I just had to pass it along. I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Expanding Brand Bandwidth

By Kelly Pensell
Guest Columnist

Many businesses and corporations have a team of in-house designers that are an integral component of their marketing team. Their designers are able to create great work, but they often get stretched thin with daily projects and tactical emergencies. Ongoing work with a compatible, outside agency provides extra bandwidth for longer term and larger scale projects, as well as valuable outside perspective on new products and campaigns.

Done the wrong way, relationships between agencies and in-house design teams can be poisoned by fights over control, hurt feelings and resentment. But with a little sensitivity and forethought, teams can work together successfully to keep company messaging fresh and completion rates high for both daily and long-term initiatives.

When to bring in an agency

Being focused on one company and one industry all the time, even the most creative in-house team sometimes loses perspective. If your brand starts to feel a little stale, an agency can deliver new ideas for pushing the envelope within existing brand standards. If you’re looking to refresh or completely reinvent your brand identity, the neutral outside perspective of an agency is even more beneficial.

Agencies are a great option for product launches and other large stand-alone projects that require multiple components across several disciplines. In-house designers may not have the time or mind-space to devote to such projects – or they may simply lack the necessary skill sets.

Agencies can also be called on to develop tools that streamline work for busy in-house designers – such as collateral templates.

How to get great work out of your agency

The key to building a strong ongoing relationship is to get everyone in the room up front and encourage a dialogue, while also making sure that there’s a designated decision maker going forward. This delicate balance ensures that all creative perspectives are heard, but avoids dilution of work to the lowest common denominator.

Work under development both in-house and out of house should be shown and shared to keep thinking current and inspire results. This also encourages ongoing dialogue. The agency needs to stay up to speed on current events in the company – what’s working and what’s not – and the in-house team needs to see how agency projects are progressing. Each side should push the other to excel.

When it comes time to present work, the agency should meet directly with the internal client. Face-to-face communication helps the agency understand internal client personalities and possible political motivations. In addition, outside consultants often have more impact and a better chance of getting buy-off on innovative ideas.

It’s all about respect

No matter how much creative firepower an agency brings in, respecting the knowledge of the in-house team is critical. They are the experts on the service or product. They are also the ones that can help an outside agency work through the internal system and rally new ideas. They use the brand tools every day, so they provide the ultimate feedback on what’s working and what can be improved.

Kelly Pensell is the founder of Graphiti, a design studio located in the Fremont neighborhood. She can be contacted at or 206-770-5726.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


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