Food-store operators with a nose for sales are keen to the appeal of scents – oven-baked breads, tortillas, soups, fragrant florals, artisan cheeses, citrus, mints and more.
Food-store operators with a nose for sales are keen to the appeal of scents – oven-baked breads, tortillas, soups, fragrant florals, artisan cheeses, citrus, mints and more. Even better if they understand why scents work on an emotional level: they evoke memories of mom’s steaming sauces, meals served up with love, and perhaps simpler, happier times.
Thankfully, the majority of food stores let food scents work their magic naturally. If they stage hot soup kettles in high-traffic spots, or display flowers and gift baskets prominently, or waft pizza smells from an in-store dining area, these are reasonable tactics to draw impulse sales. At least they’re not pumping artificial scents through the store via ventilation systems a la Las Vegas.
If controlled aromas, section by section and department by department, can help set the stage for sales, SupermarketGuru.com urges retailers to also think further about the effects of controlled lighting and temperature in different parts of the store.
The Marsh Lifestyle format launched five years ago incorporated some of this thinking. Fresh produce, a coffee bar, and an international food marketplace (with their scents) were part of a central courtyard to start the store visit. A perimeter racetrack that encircled the center – and which was completely visible to shoppers who could see over the purposely-low shelving – held conventional necessities and departments with multiple sensory appeals. Among them: a blue-lit seafood service department that had the feeling of an aquarium, and a warmer lit meat department that seemed especially inviting on wintry Indiana days.
The 66,460-square-foot store was designed to change the task of food shopping into a mall experience, and this was leading to larger baskets, a Marsh executive said.
This won’t work everywhere, especially today when shoppers seek savings more than frills. But a guiding principle remains intact: control the sensory aspects of in-store environments, and stores have a greater chance of lengthening and adding trips, building basket size, and transforming the food shop from drudgery into a more palatable experience. Even more opportunities around holiday time could further distinguish stores as market pacesetters in these critical periods.