Close your eyes and think of a store or another place you have visited that had a unique or pleasant smell. Keep your eyes closed and imagine that smell. Can you recall more detail about your experience? Do you remember specific details about the time you experienced the smell? How did you feel emotionally?

Those of you who know me also know I travel often for business, and I enjoy shopping for new pocket squares. On a recent trip to Miami, I visited the Hugo Boss store, and when entering the store, it hit me. I realized every Boss store has the same smell from Paris, France, to Hilton Head, S.C., to Buffalo, N.Y., to Miami. I just assumed it was the cologne they offer, so I continued to browse and started to think how the same aroma gave me the feeling of familiarity with my surroundings and put me at ease. I was then off to my hotel, and when I entered the doors to the Sofitel, it hit me again. The smell was was not the same as the Boss store, but was the same scent as other Sofitels I have stayed at in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

I then remembered reading something many years ago about scent marketing, but it was more about the use of scent marketing and oxygen in casinos to keep people gambling longer. I knew there was something more to it, and I started to think of the many chain stores I had visited over the years; the chains would always have the same store layout and furnishings, but a select few would also have the same music and aroma.

This is also known as multi-sensory branding, and it’s an influential marketing tool that can build powerful brand recognition quickly.

How Smells Affect Us
There is a strong connection between smell, mood and emotion. The emotion center of the brain is closely connected to the amygdale and hippocampus, which influence memory, mood and behavior. Think of the smell of chocolate chip cookies and how that affects you. Chocolate chip cookies are a smell that the Hampton Inn uses to make you feel like you have arrived at home. Some boutique hotels use relaxing lavender to calm the senses. There are many businesses using multi-sensory marketing (e.g., Jimmy Choo, Sofitel Hotels, Samsung and even GM when they processed a smell called “Nuance” into the leather of all new Cadillacs).

Double Your Sales
Studies have shown different aromas can increase spending habits of an individual by double, but the studies also showed you can’t just spray some perfume and expect sales to increase. In fact, sales could decrease with the wrong aroma present, so you’d better seek out an aroma marketing company to determine what affects a purchase decision.

Branding Your Dealership Through Smell
Brand recognition by using an aroma in a showroom can create an impression with a shopper and can in fact create an emotional connection. What if you were to utilize that same aroma in a specific and specialized direct mail campaign for lease renews or increased-service-penetration mailers? An emotional connection could be triggered by the aroma of the direct mail piece and remind the individual of the happy day they drove away in that new car, with that new-car smell. Maybe the cliché “smells like a new car” is worth more than we give it credit for. Think of the possibilities of building your dealership’s brand with sight, sound, touch, taste and aroma.

Ethical Versus Non-ethical Marketing
The right aroma has proven it can create a brand identity and induce a sense of well-being, a good mood, a relaxed state of mind, and cause an individual to spend up to twice as much money. The question could come into play that scent marketing can be a form of manipulation. In other words, it is like a drug and can make a person react differently than they normally would.

So, I ask you, is this manipulation of consumers, or is it an ethical form of marketing that you would consider for your dealership?

Vol. 9, Issue 1 
About the author