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A nose for marketing

Research has established that with a suitably chosen fragrance marketers can actually improve the possibility of making a sale. Though late, Indian marketers have woken up to its potential

Abhilasha Ojha  |  New Delhi 

Do you know why potato chips companies make each chip bigger in size than our mouths? So that we can't put it in the mouth at one go and have to actually bite and "hear" the crackling sound of the chip with each bite. The sound of the crunch, it is believed, has a psychological effect on others who are then driven by this overwhelming urge to buy a pack of those potato chips.

Marketers do all kinds of things to woo consumers. Tempting consumers at a sub-conscious level is one way to force them to give in. Woodland, the popular Canadian brand of apparel and leather footwear, claims that it has noticed an increase in footfalls ever since the company sprayed the company's signature leather fragrance in the aisle area of its various stores across the world, including India. Amol Dhillon, vice-president, Woodland, India, says that the brand's dedicated consumers are so impressed with the fragrance that they want to spray it on their leather jackets and apparel as well. In fact, given the popular demand of the Woodland leather fragrance, the company plans to launch it as a standalone product line in India early next year.

The Woodland signature fragrance has been customised for the company's Indian stores in such a manner that it is subtle, masculine and prompts even a casual onlooker to buy a Woodland product. "It works at a subconscious level, prompting customers to linger in the store and make purchases," says Dhillon.

He has a point. In his acclaimed book, Brand Sense, author Martin Lindstrom says that introducing a scent into an environment can actually change people's perception of time and directly affect the decision to purchase. Sensory marketing, as this tactic is popularly known, can work wonders for brands if used with care and precision. Back in 2008, roughly 40 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies used sensory in some form or the other as part of engaging with consumers, say some reports. By 2015, experts predict, roughly 70 per cent of Fortune 500 companies would have used sensory in some form or the other in their respective businesses.

In her book, Customer Sense: How the 5 Senses Influence Buying Behavior, author Aradhna Krishna, Dwight F. Benton professor of at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and an expert in sensory marketing, says that multi-sensory marketing appeals customers at an emotional level and that is the reason why it is so effective. Many researchers in the field of sensory marketing rate Singapore Airlines as one of the best examples in sensory marketing and agree that using this tactic effectively has enhanced the flying experience of passengers making them feel comfortable instantly.

To put things in perspective, the year 2000 on, Singapore Airlines introduced a signature company perfume for its hot towels and to be worn by its flight attendants. This patented aroma, Stefan Floridian Waters, has now become the airlines' trademark fragrance and is designed to complement the branding of Singapore Airlines.

Though popular in the West, India is just about waking up to its potential. As organised retail grows steadily, this whole thing has grown in momentum. Besides Woodland, which is already using its signature leather fragrance in stores and at its various corporate offices, Forest Essentials, is using a signature lemongrass infusion in every one of its stores. The Indian brand, which is into selling Ayurveda-based cosmetics, has crafted its own lemongrass fragrance, versions of which are now being supplied to select hospitals and hotels in India.

This has opened up an entirely new business opportunity. Early this year, Givaudan, the world's leading fragrance and flavour company, launched its innovation centre in Mumbai to bring innovative and creative flavour and taste solutions for its customers in India. The Mumbai innovation centre will offer sensory science, flavour science and food-service expertise. Woodland's Dhillon says, "We even pump in fresh oxygen through our air conditioners so consumers don't feel tired. Now, if this is not breathing in a brand, what is?

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First Published: Mon, July 15 2013. 00:14 IST
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