There’s been a lot of hype these days about the power of smell as a marketing tool. Hotels are beating each other up over respective “signature smells.” The C-Store gas station chain in California plans to push out the fragrance of coffee at its pumps to promote sales of java. Clear Channel is experimenting with scented billboards. And this Starbucks story just in from the New York Times. Worthy ventures or merely exhaust fumes?
Methinks the former. Here's why.
Last week, trolling the vast conference floor at CTIA, I was smacked in the face by the aroma of fresh cookies. Immediately, I abandoned my set destination and set off to find the source. I wandered around inconspicuously...or so I thought, until I was stopped by another one of my badge-wearing brethren. He looked at me, pointed down aisle #4200 and said:
"It's over there."
I wasn't the only one either. A conga line of guys were heading in the direction of the smell, lured like Hansel and Gretel to the gingerbread house. And all this at a Wireless Tech conference.
A little embarrassed, and not really needing the cookie caloric-wise, I backed off. But the moment was indeed one of Pow! If the presence of wafting fumes can make grown men stray far off-course, you know you're dealing with something relatively potent (at least we following something other than our crotches).
The big win with fragrances is that they don't play on our olfactory sense as much as they do our imagination. This is a head game, not a nose game, as the things we smell conjure up idyllic memories of things past or Utopian visions of what could be. The CTIA cookies were not as much about hunger as they were about comfort.
And with the industry of artificial fragrances expanding like a, well, a bad smell (check out the Demeter Fragrance Library and see what I mean), imagine the Surprise fun one can have by luring people with one fragrance...and delivering something diametrically opposite.
So this is The REAL Secret--the "law of attraction" starts with your honker.