How Stores Manipulate Your Sense Of Smell To Get You To Spend More

Abercrombie and Fitch store

Photo: Aimee Rose/Flickr

Via Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy:…as Pam Scholder Ellen, a Georgia State University marketing professor, puts it, “All of our other senses, you think before you respond, but with scent, your brain responds before you think.”

Smell can lead you to buy more and pay more:

In fact, the scent of vanilla is so appealing, one experiment carried out in a local clothing store in the Pacific Northwest showed that when “feminine scents” such as vanilla were sprayed in the women’s clothing sections, sales of female apparel actually doubled.


In fact, the whiff of baking bread has proven a profitable exercise in increasing sales across many product lines. Some Northern European supermarkets don’t even bother with actual bakeries; they just pump artificial fresh-baked-bread smell straight into the store aisles from ceiling vents.


84 per cent, subjects preferred the running shoes they’d looked at in the florally scented room. Moreover, they assessed the scented Nikes as costing roughly $ 10 more than the pairs in the unscented room. In a related experiment in Germany, the fragrance of freshly cut grass was sprayed into a home improvement store. From the second the pumps started emitting the grassy mist, 49 per cent of all customers surveyed before and after claimed that the staff appeared to be more knowledgeable about the store’s products.

Smelling cleanser makes you cleaner:

Hidden cameras observed that those who had been seated in the scented room made less of a mess— merely smelling the cleanser made the people in the scented room more fastidious in their eating. Yet when questioned afterward, not one of the subjects was remotely aware of the influence of scent on their behaviour.

Other powerful effects of smell:

  • Research shows the smell of vanilla can reduce anxiety.
  • A lavender scent in restaurants makes customers stay longer and spend more money.
  • By the way, the blind don’t have a more acute sense of smell than you do. They just pay more attention.
  • Scents can affect which people you like. We can learn about someone’s personality just by smelling them. 
  • “Clean” smells promote good behaviour. The smell of cookies can make us nicer to one another too.
  • The cologne that turns women on the most? None.
  • odours diffused while you sleep can stimulate creativity.

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