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Azleen Abdul Rahim

The Science of Smell: The Power of Scent Marketing

The smell, once it enters my nose will definitely go to my brain cells and triggers attention for it.

It has been a couple of weeks now I purposely made a ‘tour’ at this one food court within Aeon Mall in Shah Alam Malaysia. Each time I came in, I will spend no less than 2 hours there – observing people while enjoying a local coffee.

What did I observe?

There is one stall at the food court there that sells a local cuisine called Laksa. That stall is a big hit among the patrons. Almost every time when I was there, I’ll be amazed by its capability of acquiring a long queue consistently. And it seems that close to 80 percent people who ate there ordered Laksa. And that stall is the one and only that sells that.

If you’re not sure what Laksa is, it’s a spicy noodle soup that consists of rice noodles with fish, served in spicy soup based on the sour asam. Personally, It must be a Peranakan cuisine, but very popular among the people of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and maybe Southern Thailand too.

You know, it’s the smell that makes these food court patrons go for the food. I conclude my observation with that finding simply because the entire food court was swarmed by the Laksa smell.

I felt it myself, first hand. The smell, once it enters my nose will definitely go to my brain cells and triggers attention for it. A set of questions of wanting to know more about the cuisine, where is that comes from suddenly sparked in my mind. These then trigger the action to consider it.

Making hard-to-please people like me walk over to the stall to have a look at it is another small win for the stall, after that delicious smell win earlier. When I reach the stall and like what I see about how efficient the cuisine is being prepared, eventually the purchase will be made. And I realised at that time that I am too becoming part of the statistics.

Scent – what a great marketing method this is.

And here is another success story related to scent marketing. There was a smell campaign by Dunkin’ Donuts back in 2012, created in a few buses. Location, Seoul in Korea.

A new technology that was installed on the bus would release the aroma of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee into the atmosphere for commuters to inhale. The smell was released together with the advertisement being played on the buses speakers.

According to the campaign, the aromatizers were spritzing the fumes of coffee into the faces of more than 350,000 commuters while on their daily ride to work. The testing ran for several months and ended in April, according to a spokesperson from Dunkin’ Donuts.

The result – Dunkin’ Donuts reported that their coffee sales went up by 29 percent during the campaign.

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Written By

Azleen Abdul Rahim is the Co-Founder of Marketing In Asia. He also runs NSE, a social media management company. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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