In today’s media-rich world we’re bombarded with more stimulation than ever. Thousands of visual and auditory messages on television, radio, billboards, cell phones, computers and tablets compete for our attention every day.

With these messages at maximum overload, how can marketing managers break through the clutter and establish a deeper emotional connection with their customers?

One answer to that question is scent marketing.

Most brands or marketing approaches are built on visual and/or audio platforms. That’s because these two senses are the most powerful and effective ways of reaching customers with messages. But information overload is making it more challenging to establish connections. And scent marketing – using the powerful sense of smell – helps cut through the clutter.

So what exactly is scent marketing?

Scent marketing is a strategy that positions a brand and its products and services by creating an enhanced customer experience. Marketers use scents to create emotional anchoring attachments that encourage their customers to have a memorable experience while visiting their business. The goal is to make that experience so enjoyable that customers will want to return.

Have you ever walked into a building and noticed that it smells like cleaning agents, plastic or cardboard?

Industrial scents are not appealing and can even repel customers. They may not be able to put their finger on why they don’t enjoy visiting a business, but the psychology of smell tells us that customers would rather visit a company that smells good over one that doesn’t.

For example, when you go to a bookstore, you might smell books but that’s not a memorable smell that’s going to make you want to hang out and shop. However, if that bookstore uses a fragrance like popcorn, apple pie or chocolate chip cookie, customers will be reminded of a familiar and pleasant scent that makes them want to linger and browse the bookshelves. That bookstore has just made created a connected with their customer and enhanced their shopping experience.

Scent marketing is often used to help create brand preference.

For example, when you go to an Ivan Smith furniture store, their greatest hope is that when you need furniture, you’ll remember them. You’re more likely to do that if you walk into a furniture showroom that has been enhanced with a pleasant, homey scent rather than the scent of plastic and cardboard – the typical furniture showroom smell.

The goal here is to create an experience for customers beyond what they can see or hear. Tying your brand into a third sensory experience – the sense of smell – establishes a stronger connection with your customer and ensures that he or she is more likely to return to your company.

How does a business choose a scent to enhance their customer experience?

Although it’s a subjective process, factors such as sight and sound are part of the decision. If a company uses red in its décor, then a cinnamon scent can be used to complement the color. If a restaurant uses wood in its interior, a forest scent might echo that. You can also combine scents to create a composite, giving a business a unique signature scent.

At On Hold Company, we help our customers select fragrances that integrate well with their brand, personal preferences and local demographics.

How are scents delivered?

Gone are the days of burning scented candles or using dipped pieces of cardboard in front of a fan. We use a modern technology called ‘cold-infusion’, which atomizes oils so they are lighter than air molecules and then disperses them into the air. This advanced technology ensures that scent application is dependable and consistent throughout the building. We can even isolate certain areas of a building for specific scents or scent an entire building by installing it in the air conditioning system.