From Smelly Cat to J’Adore: Scents that Sell

April 5, 2018 Kathy Bryan

The nose knows, and consumer brands from hospitality to Hollywood agree. Smells have the power to make us happy and possibly make us buy things. From tantalizing aroma to pervasive odor, science has helped companies to learn how scents can evoke reactions and behaviors from consumers. The next creative solution for markets might be right under their noses.

Smell is the sense most closely tied to moods and memories because scents go directly to the emotional and memory areas of the brain, bypassing cognitive and logical thought processes. It is suggested that captivating olfaction abilities of an audience can trigger instinctive, and possibly subconscious, reactions. When a scent activates the right memory or emotion, the result can be powerful and profitable. Scents are stimulating positive revenue in many ways from brand perception to better recall to boosted sales.

6 Scent-Sational Ways Fragrance Drives Positive Results

  1. Nivea tested scented ads within movie theaters. Ad recall was 515% higher for moviegoers who experienced the scented version.
  2. Hershey boosted sales of their Kisses by 300% by pumping the scent of milk chocolate in the vicinity of vending machines.
  3. A home improvement store in Germany enhanced the perception of employee knowledge by adding the scent of freshly cut grass to their in-store experience.
  4. Iowa State University researchers discovered shoppers are willing to pay more when stores have a pleasant scent.
  5. The Las Vegas Hilton upped gambling volume by 50% with the addition of a floral scent on the casino floor.
  6. Realtor.com reported recommends staging open houses with simple fragrances, like orange and pine. Based on their research, buyers are likely to linger longer while visiting a pleasantly scented prospective property.


How Can Online Retailers and Mass Media Advertisers Leverage Scents to Sell?

For fragrance newcomers, you'll be glad to learn some aromas seem to do well for mass audiences. Vanilla and floral work for women and woody smells for men. And in general, studies show classic scents are better than complex.

Captivating multiple senses may just be the beginning of new-age sales tactics. But until smell-o-vision becomes a reality, we suggest marketers leverage techniques used by scent-focused advertisers who succeed with today’s technology ― either with innovative scent sharing techniques or by creating visual experiences that evoke memories related to scent.

Old Spice ― Enveloping Readers with Their Scent

In a recent issue of GQ magazine, Old Spice inserted a disposable men’s blazer. Made of paper and drenched in their Captain scent, the paper blazer was designed to actually be worn. Did it boost sales? It’s still too early to know, but we can confirm it generated buzz.

J’Adore ― Leveraging Star Power

Earning $2 million per year for her role, Charlize Theron has been pivotal to the J’Adore success for more than a decade because she lives the brand. In 2014, Theron told WWD magazine, “There are very, very few brands that will be brave enough to really, completely take a step back and not to try and control what is considered beautiful…. [If you want to] ask the question what is beautiful? It’s the life that you lead. It’s the life that all women lead.”

Folgers ― Capturing the Experience

“The biggest challenge with advertising food and drink,” explained Kunle Campbell, a BigCommerce.com contributor and ecommerce consultant, “is really conveying its essential features to an audience ― taste and smell.” Folgers succeeded in their long-running Christmas ad that depicted a family waking to the smell and later savoring the taste of their coffee. In fact, this spot was credited in part with helping Folgers become the top-ranked coffee brand in the U.S.

Febreze ― Overcoming Gross

The Febreze “Breathe Happy” campaign launched in 2012. In the commercials, the blindfolded star was led into obviously stinky settings only to declare the air fresh smelling... all thanks to Febreze. The disparity between appearance and reality turned Febreze into a miracle solution for stale (or gross) smelling environments.

Friends ― Still Stuck in Our Heads

Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smelly cat, it’s not your fault.

Though not a commercial, the “Smelly Cat” song from friends remains relevant and able to renew Friends-focused conversations. For a show in syndication, this catchy tune maintains brand awareness more than a decade after the sitcom wrapped.

Getting the Smell Just Right (Because We Love the Smell of Innovation in the Morning)

Inspiration comes from many places, sometimes even your nostrils. Whether or not your brand is scent-focused, innovative marketing can take awareness and sales to the next level. Creating relevant connections with your target base starts with understanding how they perceive you. From custom scents to custom offers, marketing that triggers positive emotions is bound to succeed.


Do you need help targeting your niche audience? Team DMS is here to help. Contact us to get a conversation started.

Additional Sources:


About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Media Solutions (DMS). In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS, the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers.

Follow on Linkedin Visit Website More Content by Kathy Bryan
Previous Article
DMS Marketing Madness ― 16 Innovative Campaigns but Only 1 Champion
DMS Marketing Madness ― 16 Innovative Campaigns but Only 1 Champion

Readers voted for their favorite of 16 innovative campaigns in DMS Marketing Madness. Our Final Four was Ti...

Next Article
4 Assumptions that Could Be Fooling Your Digital Marketing Strategy
4 Assumptions that Could Be Fooling Your Digital Marketing Strategy

To help you from being fooled this April, we’ve highlighted four digital marketing beliefs that should no l...


Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!
× Streams