Colour, design, lighting and smells can all be used to affect people’s emotions and perceptions on both a conscious and subconscious level. Some brands are beginning to understand the effects of using these components to create a fully immersive environment for their audiences.
It is well documented that certain colours can make people feel a particular emotion and can affect consumer behaviour and buying intension, with 85% of shoppers placing colour as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product.
It is also well documented that the design and layout of an environment can also influence or produce certain reactions and responses from an audience. Again companies have been using design and layout to influence buying behaviour and perception of a brand. For example; when a space is designed aesthetically, people spend more time in that space, which leads them to spend more time with a product and increases buying intention.
We similarly know that lighting can likewise change people’s moods and buying intensions and brands understand the importance of its effectiveness. Research suggests that bright light can intensify the initial emotional reaction we have to different kinds of stimulus including products.
Why is it that most brands will engage with their customers through colours, designs and lighting, however the scent of an environment is not thought about at all? Our sense of smell is widely considered by scholars to be our most emotional sense, as our sense of smell works on such a subconscious level, it can trigger emotions instantaneously. The other senses have to travel through the cognitive receptors of the brain and so we apply some conscious reasoning to these senses.
Scent has the potential to play an important role on consumer’s emotions and consumer judgments and it has the ability to have a major impact on one’s state of mind. There is a long list of how scents can be used to benefit brands, from boosting sales; Nike discovered that they could increase the intent to purchase by 80% through introducing scents into their stores.
Smells can make customers linger for longer periods, as studies have shown that customers are more likely to look around and browse at products in scented environments. Scents help create a more well-rounded brand image, as it helps consumers remember you and create associations in their minds. Scents also can create a perception of quality, with studies showing that people tend to perceive a scented space as being better quality and are willing to pay more for products.
However the nature of smells is subjective and using scents in branded environments can be complex when cultural appropriateness and gender comes into play. Particular types of smells can play a huge role in the successfulness of a campaign as studies have shown that people spend 20% more in simpler, lighter scented environments then more complex, heavily scented environments.
Brands are certain that trying new ways to create a more well-rounded experience for their customers and using scents along with the other senses, should play a role in this experience.