Good business scents

Ambius scent designer Raymond Matts has designed some of the world's most iconic fragrances, including Abercrombie's perfume and cologne, Clinique Happy, Tommy Girl, White Diamonds and Cerruti 1881
Ambius scent designer Raymond Matts has designed some of the world's most iconic fragrances, including Abercrombie's perfume and cologne, Clinique Happy, Tommy Girl, White Diamonds and Cerruti 1881

Gillian Hamill caught up with Ambius scent designer Raymond Matts to learn how branding your store with a scent can encourage consumers to linger longer and ultimately, spend more



19 March 2014

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The aroma of piping hot freshly baked bread, comforting and homely, lingering in the air, is almost always impossible to resist. So much so, that it’s a trick estate agents have been advising homeowners to adopt, pretty much since the year dot. Now, a growing number of businesses, both at home and abroad, are realising that they’re missing a trick by appealing to customers’ visual and aural senses alone, in their efforts to create an atmosphere that people will want to return to consistently.

In fact, premium scenting and interior landscaping company, Ambius, says trials show consumer spending has increased by 17.5% in locations that use a scent diffusion machine to brand their space through smell. Ambius scent designer Raymond Matts, who has designed fragrances including Clinique Happy, Tommy Girl, White Diamonds, Cerruti 1881 and Abercrombie’s perfume and cologne, was in Dublin recently to explain more about how Irish businesses can use the power of scent to drive sales.

Branding a space through scent

He began a presentation in Dublin’s Westbury Hotel by describing his motivation for moving into the arena of ambient scenting, in environments as diverse as hotels, car showrooms, supermarkets, beauty salons and even funeral homes.

"I had a stay in a hotel in Las Vegas and I was walking into this hotel and I was noticing wow, they’re starting to scent hotels now and I really hated what I smelt," Matts says candidly. "I started looking into it and started looking into the companies who were doing it and realising that a lot of them were using off-the-shelf fragrances and that the focal point was the diffusion machine and not the scent. Yet the scent should have been the most important aspect because that’s actually what they were trying to do, to brand the space with scent." 

Creating an emotional connection

According to Matts, scent is so important because it’s closely linked to our emotional memories. "Olfactive memory is linked to experiences and this is really the key for branding a space, it’s about creating that olfactive memory and a space that you either want to stay longer in or you’ll remember once you leave and come back."

Interestingly, the number one smell which people associate with their childhoods is the scent of Crayola crayons. In fact, although it’s usually subconscious, people are constantly making mental associations, with the smells that surround them and remind them of different periods in their lives. What’s more, according to Matts: "Smell is the most important of our senses; people can remember a smell with up to 65% accuracy for up to a year while visual recall is only about 50% accurate after three months."

A complex sense

Smell is also more complex than we usually imagine; for example, we don’t just use our nose, but two different parts of the brain. "The sense of smell is actually more complex than our sense of taste," explains Matts. "[The latter] can only distinguish between four sensations of sweet, sour, salty and bitter; however it’s wide open when it comes to our sense of smell." The scent designer used a quick experiment to demonstrate the fact that we don’t just smell directly through our noses. Everyone was given a cup of jelly beans and asked to chew one while holding their nose. The audience soon found we were unable to taste the flavour of the jelly bean, but merely experienced what Matts describes as the "just the gummy sensation" of chewing. This is because the jelly bean taste normally comes from smelling the sweet indirectly, with its molecular structure travelling from the tongue and through the back nasal passageway up to the nose.

Enhancing your offering

How then can supermarkets use ambient scenting technology to boost sales and how does Matts go about designing appropriate supermarket scents? He explains: "When I walk through a vegetable section, I’m smelling everything. Because if I can smell the juice coming through the skin, then I know it’s a good fruit or it’s a good tomato. So I would probably use some of those [smells] and maybe enhance them with softer tones and notes [such as] wood; things that are soft and that create a welcoming environment, almost like hugging you, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with [natural food scents]. Other supermarket scents that can be used to enhance the ambient atmosphere, include coffee, cookie and fresh bread scents.

Diffused fragrances can also be used to remediate odours. For example, Ambius has worked with casinos to help them remove the smell of cigarette smoke. Matts adds: "I’m actually working with a chain high end butcher shops in South America, where you have the odour of blood from the meat. What can we do? There we’re looking at adding a clean scent, maybe a little outdoorsy but cool, although not necessarily like pine trees or anything of that nature."

With some 93 supermarkets in Ireland adopting Ambius’ premium scenting since January; the ambient branding message does appear to be gaining traction. Matts adds that if working with a supermarket, the first question he would ask is: "How do you want your customer to feel in the section they’re in?" It therefore seems retailers and those in the hospitality industry have now gained another powerful tool in their quest to influence customers’ moods for the better.





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