Read This Ad with Your NOSE 👃 👃 👃

How Brands Are Weaponizing Your Nose to Win Your Wallet

Don't tell me, show me. Don't sell me, tell me a story. And above all, make me feel something.

- Seth Godin

Few weeks back, Swiggy Instamart partnered with Times of India to do something cheeky!

The ad featured an image of juicy mangoes and a headline that read "Read this ad with your nose". Yes, you guessed it right, it was a sented ad with the aroma of fresh mangoes!

Swiggy Instamart Ad in TOI

TOI circulated 800,000 copies of this special edition front page Ad in Mumbai, which also soon attracted huge attention on social media and doubling the purchases of Mangoes on the platform that day.

This stealthy form of Marketing is called “Olfactory Marketing”, where the sense of smell becomes a powerful tool in influencing consumer behavior and driving sales.

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What if I told you that, you have been a target of this marketing strategy on a regular basis. Every time you walked into a Nike Store, or Dunkin Doughnuts or the Hayatt hotels, I can go on and on. Also, it did make it easier for the brand to convert you and make you pay more.

This isn't some mumbo jumbo; it's backed by science. In an experiment by Dr. Alan Hirsch, identical pairs of Nike shoes were placed in two different stores—one with a carefully curated fragrance and another without. The result? An astonishing 84% increase in the likelihood of the fragrant store making a sale. This experiment, and many others like it, shed light on the immense impact scent can have on our perception of products and our willingness to make a purchase.

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Studies show that strategically chosen scents can:

  • Increase dwell time: A pleasant scent can make you linger in a store longer, which translates to more opportunities for impulse purchases.

  • Boost brand recall: Remember that distinct Starbucks coffee smell? That's olfactory branding at its finest, anchoring the brand in your memory through scent association.

  • Influence perceived value: A subtle yet luxurious fragrance can make a $20 t-shirt feel like a designer steal.

  • Trigger emotions: Want to evoke feelings of relaxation and indulgence? A spa might diffuse lavender or vanilla. Looking for energy and excitement? Citrus or peppermint might be your olfactory weapon.

The hospitality industry, has been at the forefront of adopting olfactory marketing. From the consistent fragrance of Hyatt Palace across its 300-plus hotels to the citrusy aroma of Lemon Tree hotels in India, scent has become a subtle yet influential element in shaping guests' perceptions.

But beware, not all scented marketing is created equal. Overpowering or unpleasant fragrances can backfire, leaving customers with a headache and a negative association with the brand. The key is to find scents that are subtle, complementary to the brand and products, and most importantly, pleasant to the majority of noses.

So, the next time you catch a whiff of something unusual while shopping, take a moment to notice. It might just be a brand whispering sweet nothings (and sales pitches) directly to your subconscious. And remember, in the game of olfactory marketing, the nose that knows has the upper hand.

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