A new way for businesses to reach customers? Through the nose

Brands are looking to deliver immersive experiences that tap all five senses.

A white woman’s side profile, showing just her mouth and nose, with a mountain of plain black shopping bags in the background.

Scent is a powerful thing: one sniff can transport you to a different place or even back in time.

And brands have been using fragrances to sell products for years. (The smell of Abercrombie & Fitch stores might still be fused to the insides of our nostrils.)

But, according to The New York Times, industries are employing scent as a marketing tool now more than ever.

It’s all part of a broader trend, with brands designing physical spaces to capture all five of our senses:

  • Mastercard commissioned custom fragrances inspired by the brand’s logo for its “experience centers.”
  • Luxury car brand Genesis operates a venue that houses a restaurant, library, and showroom, each filled with its own signature scent.

And while there is progress being made with bringing fragrance into virtual reality, we’re still a ways off.

So, for now, piping perfume into brick-and-mortar locations is the closest brands can get to fully immersive experiences.

Bespoke fragrances…

… don’t come cheap. Olfactive branding company 12.29 has worked with major banks, car companies, and fashion brands, and says custom scents can range anywhere from $5k to $65k.

Distributing those scents then requires installing machinery inside HVAC systems to dispense fragrance oil, which can cost brands hundreds — even thousands — each month.

The key: nailing a scent that everyone likes. Things like fresh citrus and florals have more universal appeal.

One study even suggests that some scents can prompt customers to spend as much as 20% more.

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