How does smell affect consumers’ behavior?

Over the last twenty years, experimental studies have proven that smells can impact human behavior (mental and/or physical), especially consumers in their choice of products or in the time they can spend in a place ( restaurant, coffeshop, etc..).

An experience has been accomplished by Nicolas Gueguen and Christine Petr, two french scientists, to figure out how different aromas, lemon and lavender, can affect a custumer’s “lenght of stay and amount of purchasing” in a restaurant (2006). The study showed that lemon aroma had no particular effect on the custumors, whereas the lavender scent had a “positive effect […] on the lenght of time spent in the restaurant […] caused by its relaxing effect” (Diego et al. 1998).

Moreover, shops, hotels, casinos etc, have been using fragrances in order to make the consumers feel comfortable and relaxed, in order to be in “good conditions” to spend money (Caplan, 2006). SonyStyle claims that they “are not trying to manipulate people” though “it’s making sure people have a pleasant experience.”

In my opinion, brands like sony shouldn’t be using scents in order to relax the customer: why do brands really trying to relax the consumer in their shops? It’s not just for his well-being, or else they could have offered massages. They try to relax the customer so he wouldn’t feel stressed to spend money or he would feel good and happy which will make him spend more time there to possibly buy things he might not need.

Every brand has a smell (Zara, IKEA, Carrefour, Starbucks…) , that is a mix of aromas that we can find in our daily life, so during any moment of the day, we can smell scents that we can describe as good or bad, still not knowing what the aroma is: we smell scents that reminds us of brands, so we end up smelling brands. By reminding those brands, we think: maybe I need something from there. It has an indirect impact on the customer as he isn’t in the shop itself.

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