Stronger Scents in Supermarkets

May 10, 2012

Are stronger scents in-store necessary to reach boomers? Find out what happens as we age and what your store can do about it.

A new, but not so new, trend is to waft certain scents into stores - Coco Chanel was doing this back in the 20s, and marketers across the country are convincing brands to take on a scent to help consumers form a more real attachment and association with their brand. Supermarkets may want to take on a different angle.

As we age there is an associated decrease in sensitivity of our sense of smell, much more so than a decrease in sensitivity to tastes, according to Charles J. Wysocki, a neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. This perception may result from an accumulated loss of sensory cells in the nose (perhaps as much as two-thirds of the original!). Supermarkets may want to take this into account and pump up the smells in supermarkets as the boomer population continues to rise.

Take for example, the scent of fresh baked bread or rotisserie chicken from the prepared foods section, the wonderful fragrance of fresh berries and other fresh fruits in the produce section. Make these more appealing by having the scents more intense in certain areas of the store.

According to Adweek, brands want their customers to be in such environments because research has demonstrated that even a few microparticles of scent can do a lot of marketing’s heavy lifting, from improving consumer perceptions of quality to increasing the number of store visits.

Donna Sturgess, president of Buyology, a neurological marketing firm based in New York, commented, “Pleasant, subtle scents lift our moods and impact buying behavior.” Brands that have found the right scent have seen results as high as double-digit increases in brand preference.”

This is certainly an area where supermarkets can use their in-store assets, i.e. the bakery, the pizza oven, panini press – all of which create strong and delicious smelling scents to their benefit. The reality is that these scents may have to become even more intense to reach boomers' sensory cells.