Finnish scent marketing firm Ideair used ten restaurants and bars to conduct an interesting test of the effect of scent on product sales. As reported by Reuters, five locations used only visual ads for a specific liquor brands while the other five used the same ads but added scent diffusers. The aroma being broadcast were that of the advertised liquor.
Ideair describes the test results:
To know how well the campaign works, we had a student from Laurea University of Applied Sciences, to do his final thesis about this case. In order to know what the impact of scent is, we made the same visual ad, without scent, and put them in five restaurants. The results were convincing, bars with scent-visual ad resulted in 79% growth in sales, while places with only the visual ad, sold 11% more than during normal periods.
While I’m sure this wasn’t the most scientifically controlled experiment, the results appear to show that a product scent at the point of sale can boost sales far more than signage alone. (Note that the video sound track describes a 7.9% boost instead of 79%, an apparent error.) Although the effects on branding aren’t noted, having a brand-specific aroma wafting through an environment would seem to be a good way to make a stronger, more memorable brand impression.