Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Psssst! That Building Isn't Wearing Any Perfume!

I remember when it was enough to do sheetrock, add paint, furniture, rugs and drapes. At that point, you considered your building to be fully dressed. I also remember typewriters and telephones that didn't take messages for you. Come to think of it, I remember when you couldn't type any old string of words into Google and...

But I stray from the topic of indecent exposure in public spaces. This isn't about naked people, it's about naked spaces. Go downtown, to your favorite resort, casino or theme park and smell the chocolate or fresh laundry. So you thought it came from the merchandise or the goodies grandma was cooking in the back?
Uhn, uhn.

Avery Gilbert, psychologist, smell scientist and entrepreneur devotes the Zombies at the Mall chapter of his new book, What the Nose Knows - The Science of Scent in Everyday Life to this issue: "Nasal persuasion is happening everywhere." MGM Grand in Las Vegas has up to nine scents going around the property all at once. At its own peril, Starbucks switched from fresh-ground to vacuum-sealed coffee. Something was missing from the consumer experience and sales slumped. Another Classic Coke story - Starbucks reversed course.

Marketers know that smells are a direct route to emotional connection with consumers. But is it true that all good smells will promote commerce? Gilbert explains "the congruency problem." Female students purchased more satin sleepwear in a lily of the valley scented experimental setting than they did when a sea mist spray was deployed. We want to connect what we see with what we smell. Scent must convey meaning related to the product or service for sale. The success of scent campaigns to encourage people to stay in a store longer, perceive the goods as trendier, or try a new product, according to Gilbert, depends on style, taste and culture. He comments that "marketers need a Nielsen rating for the nostrils."

What The Nose Knows chock-full of cultural, psychological, and smell-ogical insights conveyed in zesty, flowing prose. Avery Gilbert's style is erudite yet warm and friendly as your favorite uncle. Enjoy a great read extending far beyond the topic of this post!

Other good books dealing in scent marketing are: Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age, by C. Russell Brumfield and Brand Sense: Build Powerful Brands Through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight and Sound by Martin Lindstrom. Raise your hand if you remember The Hidden Persuaders, by Vance Packard.

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