Is the smell of technological innovation honeydew? The marketing team behind Samsung Electronics thinks so. The company’s showrooms are just one example of a branding trend that takes the nose into serious consideration when marketing a product.
“They developed a fragrance that is honeydew melon,” says Harald Vogt, founder of the Scent Marketing Institute, who says Samsung’s signature scent is sprayed in its showrooms around the world. Pascal Gaurin, a perfumer from International Flavors & Fragrances who helped produce the scent, says that with the ambient aroma customers spend an average of 20 to 30 per cent more time with the Samsung products and are more likely to remember the brand. (Research points to a strong correlation between smell and the brain’s limbic system, where memory and emotions are collected.)
Traditionally, scent branding has been used in clothing stores and hotels. But it’s quickly spreading to some unexpected industries. Credit Suisse, De Beers and Sony have reportedly been experimenting with scenting in their stores. “What we’re looking at is the tip of the iceberg,” says Vogt. “Publicly, 15 per cent of companies are using them, but there’s a huge amount of brands that are using them and aren’t telling you.” Rolls-Royce created a scent that it says is a chemical blueprint of the fuel, underseal and felt of the 1965 Silver Cloud car to put into their newest models. Now, part of the production process is to infuse the leather of the new car seats with the smell. Since 2003, Cadillac has been doing the same with its own original fragrance—it calls its scent “Nuance.”
Fragrance manufacturers like International Flavors & Fragrances charge anywhere between $25,000 and $125,000 to develop a custom fragrance. But “there is no clear number on the return of investment,” says Vogt, which can make it difficult for fragrance companies to sell their product. Even despite the unclear gains, though, companies are betting that the nose knows best and are investing in a multi-sensory approach for their customers to remember their brand by.