Have you ever wandered into a late night grocery store and wondered how the aroma of fresh baked bread still lingers, or walked through a mall and can smell the Abercrombie & Fitch from miles away. These are two examples of how retailers use scent to help trigger the brand in your mind’s eye.

Many retailers use aroma to enhance the shopping experience, increase brand recall and hope that it translates into dollars and cents. According to AromaSys, a scent marketing company “many businesses and individuals already use scent marketing – some do it unknowingly – such as the family looking to sell their house with the smell of home baking before prospective buyers arrive.” Almost anything can be enhanced using a custom scent. Here are a few examples we found:


Abercrombie & Fitch uses ceiling mounted diffusers to infuse their signature scent, Fierce, into the store environment. They also spray their signature scent on the clothing so it too smells like their signature cologne, even once the product is purchased and taken home.

Some shopping malls themselves even scent their corridors. Which scent is most effective in malls? According to an article by KEW  Group it “depends on the density of the crowds. Citrus works well in medium density, lavender in high density.”


Everyone is familiar with scent strips for perfume in magazines. Another company, Yankee Candle, uses scent technology in their catalogues so that potential customers can experience the fragrance of their candles in the comfort of their homes.


We’re not talking about perfumes, soaps and candles here. More like the new car smell, My Little Ponies or Apple products. Here at Circus, we have a theory that Apple scents their products, and we aren’t the only people who believe this. We can’t find any proof that they do or don’t, but we sure love when we open a brand new Apple product because we get to smell the intoxicating scent of the product.

Update: Fragrance company Air Aroma has created a new Apple product fragrance, which unfortunately is not for sale.  Read more at http://designtaxi.com/news/352227/Perfume-Lets-You-Smell-Like-New-Apple-Products

Hotels & Casinos

Many luxurious locations use scents to create pleasing, calming and welcoming atmospheres. Big names like Bellagio, Wynn Resorts, MGM Grand and Hilton are all clients of AromaSys and their fragrance branding expertise. According to their website, “it can revolutionise the way businesses connect with their customers, bonding guests to their environment, encouraging brand loyalty and generating repeat business.” Westin Hotels & Resorts use the custom scent of White Tea from ScentAir to welcome guests to each of their properties. You can even purchase candles, oils and home versions of the scent.

Grocery Stores

Some grocery stores are using scented zones to increase sales like Net Cost Market in Brooklyn, NY. See the video below about how they use the sense of scent to increase sales.

Travel Hotspots

Tourist destinations like the city of Miami, are getting their own scents too. Miami being one of the first with its fruity, palm tree & beach inspired fragrance.


A company called Scentevents helped the “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory” movie premiere smell like chocolate and infused Katy Perry’s most recent “California Dreams” tour venues to smell like cotton candy.

The Bottom Line

These techniques have been successful on the bottom lines of businesses. In an article from PSFK, Nike showed that adding scents to their stores increased intent to purchase by 80%, while in another experiment at a petrol station with a mini-mart attached to it, pumping around the smell of coffee saw purchases of the drink increase by 300%.

Scent helps tap memory and emotion, acting as another touch point for brands. Brands need to take many variables into account as not every scent is associated with a positive response. Scents trigger memories and powerful emotional or even physical responses; for example, cultural backgrounds and personal experiences or allergies and sensitivity to scents.

As business gets more competitive, consumers can plan on being bombarded by more scents almost everywhere they go. What do you think? Do you have any “scentimental” experiences you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know!