Odor PrimingOpen Access

Odor Priming

We’ll pay more when we smell something nice

Though often overlooked, smell has a powerful effect on memory recall, nostalgia and, as long as it’s deemed authentic, our purchasing decisions.

Kechagia & Drichoutis (2017). The effect of olfactory sensory cues on willingness to pay and choice under risk. Journal of Behavioral & Experimental Economics.

The study

Setup

105 people were split into two groups, put in a room with either a zesty scent in the air, or no scent. They were then shown a mug, and were asked to bid for it with real money.

Results

Those in the scented room exhibited a higher average willingness to pay for the mug.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Keep environmental scents simple...

...unless it's the brand differentiator (e.g. Aesop, Neal's Yard). Much like visual stimuli, in-store scents deemed simpler result in both higher average spending and cognitive processing (Hermann et al., 2013).

Takeaway image

Be authentic.

You'll risk triggering skepticism if you substitute a real side-effect of production for something fake (Lunardo, 2012), i.e. a freshly-baked scent in a store with no oven. Better to have a complementary or no scent than have consumers think you’re patching over an inferior product.

Takeaway image

Consider a product scent.

What sort of feeling do you want to evoke upon unboxing? Adams & Douce (2017) provide a brilliant analysis of possible scents. Make it subtle, appropriate and apply it consistently to the entire range. e.g. Tech company Apple is notorious for the sweet scent experienced when opening up a new computer for the first time. Even though you can't see it, you remember it deeply.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Pairings

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Odor Priming

Odor Priming

We’ll pay more when we smell something nice

Though often overlooked, smell has a powerful effect on memory recall, nostalgia and, as long as it’s deemed authentic, our purchasing decisions.

The study

Setup

105 people were split into two groups, put in a room with either a zesty scent in the air, or no scent. They were then shown a mug, and were asked to bid for it with real money.

Results

Those in the scented room exhibited a higher average willingness to pay for the mug.

study graph
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