While not a new marketing concept (in fact, we wrote about it in 2009), the practice of using aromas to illicit an emotional connection remains an intriguing premise. Most recently, airlines are discussing the use of scent in brand marketing to help differentiate their flight experience. Delta is among a number of airlines that already use fragrance as a branding tool. Its signature scent, ‘Calm’, has been used in both the airplane cabins and the hot towels provided to premium class fliers for a few years. The Wall Street Journal reports that not all fliers are excited about this trend, though. Those with asthma or other sensitivities to scents and chemicals are apprehensive about possible reactions. In light of these concerns, some airlines have decided against going through with plans to utilize a unique fragrance for branding purposes.
Although some airlines deemed this tactic too risky, there are still many other brands that are using these fragrant practices, particularly hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, the Bellagio, the Venetian, and many others on the Strip are using the sense of smell to help guests form unique bonds to their memories of these locations. Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando uses fragrance in a different way by distributing artificial sugar cookie and waffle cone aromas at the top of the stairs to lure visitors downstairs to the inconveniently located ice cream shop. This is a whole new take on scent marketing that proves it has more than just the potential to create new associations with a brand; it can also play to consumers’ already existing associations with a smell to advance a brand. This tactic seems to be pretty simple for a company already heavily linked to a smell, but perhaps other brands would have a more challenging time executing it. But think of this – the average consumer views tens of thousands of marketing messages daily. Doesn’t it make sense to connect with a potential customer through other means? We have four other senses waiting to be tapped.
For those companies that want to utilize all five senses in the branding process but have difficulty deciding how, companies like ScentAir can assist. ScentAir offers consulting on fragrance options and how to utilize them. The presence of companies like this demonstrates the increasing demand for scent as a marketing tool. What are some creative ways you could envision scent playing a role in marketing programs?