Fragrance in stores is a key consideration for consumers

It isn't the products on offer or customer service, but their stores' fragrance that is the key to enticing shoppers, a new study finds.

Consumers consider a store’s fragrance a more important factor in convincing them to shop there than good customer service, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by market research company, ICM and Ambius, finds that more than half of consumers love their favourite stores due to its ambience – placing multi-sensory cues such as design, fragrance, lighting and music above good service from friendly staff.

For the retail and hospitality sectors, the survey shows an especially high demand for retailers to consider their store’s fragrance.

Three out of four people (74 per cent) have been impulsively drawn into a store by a smell, and 90 per cent of consumers would either walk out of a store or speed up their browsing if they didn’t like the smell inside it.

Similarly, in a hospitality environment, 77 per cent of consumers say a pleasant smell in a hotel would have a positive impact on them, and 43 percent say they would regret or reconsider checking into a hotel if they noticed an overpowering smell.

Professor Charles Spence MA PhD, experimental psychology at Oxford University, thinks that our brains monitor all of our senses to decide what we like and dislike when shopping.

He says, ‘New technologies around effective scent dispersal means there has never been a better time for hotels and small businesses to consider developing their brand through the use of scent and other multi-sensory marketing strategies.’

He adds, ‘It is, however, important to remember that harmony is key – the right scent should correspond with its surroundings and be congruent with our other senses. Based on my own research in this area, I am convinced a stores fragrance is a powerful means of communication with one’s customers no matter what the business.’

The research finds that smell is the top-rated stimuli for triggering a memory or feeling (73 per cent), highlighting the positive impact it can play in creating a connection between a brand and consumer.

As small business owners focus on how to evolve their models to attract more customers and retain them both online and in a physical environment, the new research demonstrates the significant role scenting can play.

Sue Wieland, Ambius line of business manager for premium scenting, says, ‘A pleasant scent can can encourage hotel guests to stay for extended periods of time; while for a store it can greatly increase foot traffic, encouraging people to linger for longer.’

She adds, ‘Appealing to consumers is tough with brands competing for every single sale. Therefore when considering the design and fit out of a hotel or retail store, scenting should not be an afterthought, but rather a key consideration. It’s in the interests of businesses to use every tool at their disposal to gain higher amounts of customers, while enhancing brand experience and association.’

Further reading on customer services

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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