scent marketing
July 31st, 2023 | 6 min read
  • Immersive Experiences

The Aromatic World of Scent Marketing

Scent can create unforgettable brand experiences and has the power to transport individuals to different places, trigger emotions, and enhance the overall sensory experience.

From the aroma of freshly baked cookies evoking cherished childhood memories, to the alluring blend of lavender and sandalwood whisking you away to a luxurious oasis, scent marketing is the magical tool of experiential marketing.

Whether it’s a retail store, hotel, event, or any other experiential setting, incorporating scent marketing can effectively amplify the immersive nature of the experience, making it more memorable and impactful.

What is Scent Marketing? The Invisible Trail of Brand Identity

Scent marketing—also called scent branding—is all about using delightful and captivating fragrances to create unique and immersive brand experiences. By strategically incorporating scents into physical spaces or events, brands have the ability to trigger memories, emotions, and associations, making it a potent tool for experiential marketers.

Picture this: you walk into a store, and suddenly, an enticing aroma envelopes you like a warm hug from a scented cloud. That, my friend, is the magic of scent marketing! It’s like a mischievous wizard casting spells with smells to captivate your senses and lure you into a whimsical wonderland. It’s like adding a secret ingredient of enchantment to your brand, leaving a lasting impression on customers.

How Scent Marketing Can Evoke Emotions & Memories

Our sense of smell is directly linked to our emotions and memories due to the way our brain processes olfactory information. To truly understand this captivating phenomenon, we first need to understand the intricate workings of the limbic system. This fascinating part of our brain holds the key to understanding how ambient scents can evoke powerful emotions and unlock cherished memories.

The Direct Link Between Scent and Emotional Connections

The limbic system is a complex network of interconnected regions in our brain that play a pivotal role in regulating our emotions, forming and retrieving memories, and influencing our responses to stimuli.

Unlike other senses, such as vision or hearing, scent information doesn’t go through the thalamus, which acts as a sensory relay station. Instead, scents enter the nasal passage and go directly to the olfactory bulb, forming a direct link with the limbic system. This direct connection allows scents to evoke powerful emotional responses and trigger memories in a more immediate and intense way.

This unique connection between scent, emotions, and memories is why certain smells can transport us back in time, evoking specific emotions and memories associated with that scent. For example, the aroma of freshly baked cookies might remind us of joyful childhood moments spent in the kitchen with loved ones.

Scent marketing works by tapping into this emotional and memory-driven realm to create captivating experiences. Brands can leverage this powerful link between scent, emotions, and memories in scent marketing to create meaningful and impactful experiences. By carefully selecting scents that align with their brand identity or desired emotional response, they can forge stronger connections with their audience, evoke positive emotions, and leave a lasting impression that extends beyond the moment.

Influence Customer Behavior Through Scent Marketing

Introducing a scent marketing strategy requires careful planning and execution. Factors such as scent selection, intensity, longevity, and alignment with brand values play a crucial role in creating the desired ambiance.

Brands can leverage the connection between scent, emotions, and memories to influence customer behavior in several ways:

Creating Positive Associations

By strategically using pleasant and appealing scents in their environments, brands can create positive associations with their products, services, or spaces. For example, a spa might infuse their space with calming scents like lavender or eucalyptus, enhancing relaxation and encouraging customers to indulge in their services.

Singapore Airlines is known for its distinctive fragrance, “Stefan Floridian Waters”, or their newest concoction, “Batik Flora” which is diffused throughout their cabins and lounges, in the flight attendants’ perfume, and blended in to the hot towels. The refreshing and calming pleasant ambient scents help create a unique and luxurious atmosphere, enhancing the overall travel experience for passengers and creating a memorable experience.
calming smells

Evoking Emotional Responses

Brands can use specific scents to evoke desired emotional responses in customers. For instance, a fitness brand might incorporate energizing scents like citrus or mint in their gym to inspire motivation and an uplifting atmosphere, encouraging customers to stay active and engaged.

Scent marketing examples from luxury hotels, who often use a subtle branded scent in their lobbies, hallways, and rooms to evoke a sense of relaxation, sophistication, or a particular ambiance associated with their brand. Westin Hotels has a signature scent called “White Tea,” which is used in their lobbies and guest rooms. The calming aroma aims to create a relaxing and rejuvenating environment for guests, aligning with the brand’s focus on wellness and well-being.
calm hotel lobby

Enhancing Brand Recognition

Associating a unique scent with a brand can create a distinct sensory identity. When customers encounter that particular scent elsewhere, it triggers brand recall and familiarity. This association can strengthen brand recognition and loyalty, influencing customer behavior and increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases and brand loyalty.

Retailers use specific scents in their stores to create a pleasant and inviting atmosphere. For example, the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has built its brand around a specific scent. They infuse their stores with a signature fragrance, a combination of musk, citrus, and other notes. The scent has become strongly associated with the brand and is instantly recognizable to customers.

Creating a Memorable Experience

By incorporating carefully chosen scents into experiential encounters, brands can create memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact on customers. These sensory-rich experiences can enhance engagement, word-of-mouth referrals, and customer loyalty.

Scent marketing can be employed during events, trade shows, or promotional campaigns to reinforce brand messaging. Imagine attending a fashion show where the runway is filled with the invigorating scent of fresh roses. As the models strut down the catwalk, the aroma envelops you, evoking feelings of beauty, elegance, and romance. The scent becomes intertwined with the visual spectacle, creating a holistic experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Influencing Purchase Decisions

Scent can also influence customer purchasing behavior. For example, in retail environments, scents associated with specific products, such as the aroma of freshly brewed coffee in a bookstore, can increase the likelihood of customers making a purchase by creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.

Or, picture yourself walking into a high-end boutique that exudes sophistication. The air is delicately scented with a blend of leather and subtle hints of cedarwood. Instantly, you feel a sense of luxury, exclusivity, and refinement. The carefully curated scent enhances the overall ambiance, making the shopping experience more immersive and enticing.

Follow Your Nose to Sensory Delight

Scent branding is a sensory adventure that takes experiential encounters to the next level. By tapping into the emotional and memory-inducing power of scents, brands can shape customer perceptions, foster positive associations, and ultimately influence customer behavior in a way that aligns with their business objectives, all while creating truly memorable and emotionally charged experiences that leave a fragrant trail in the minds of their audience. So, let your brand’s scent be your signature, and watch as your customers embark on a scented journey they won’t soon forget!


Promobile Marketing is a dynamic experiential marketing agency based in New York City. For over a decade, Promobile Marketing has collaborated with a range of brands—from budding startups to major CPG brands—on immersive marketing campaigns. Get in touch to discuss your next project.