Microencapsulated Scent Will Move Beyond Sampler into Public Spaces and Electronic Devices

futurelab default header

by: Idris Mootee

I was shopping at some department stores yesterday and realize there’s some scent that is being pumped from the ventilation system. I realized this is not uncommon. Imagine in the cinema, popcorn is probably the scent that you will be exposed to, but in a European cinema, you might just smell bread, caramel, chocolate or whatever else an advertiser wants you to smell. This is the technology tested for Beiersdorf’s Nivea, and exit polls showed a 515% rise in recall for the Nivea ad compared with moviegoers who saw the spot without the scent.

A German company called Cinescent is allowing marketers to pump out the scent of their brands in German theaters. I wonder how they calculate the advertising rate. The estimated cost is over double the normal price of an ad reel spot and rolling out a national campaign would not only be expensive but no doubt also a logistical nightmare. Here’s how the test works, a specially made 60-sec spot shows a typical sunny beach scene, with people lying around on deck chairs or sunbathing on towels while waves crashed and seagulls cried in the background. As people wondered what the ad was for, the scent of Nivea sun cream permeated the cinema, and a Nivea logo appeared on screen along with the words "Nivea. The scent of summer."

I remember four years ago I was giving a similar idea to a client who was the CEO of a HAVAC company. I was telling him that by supplying a scent distributor with their rental furnace, they can easily charge a few dollars more every month. More so, it is a differentiator in a pretty commodity market. I was suggesting different scents for different time of the day. They never went forward with that idea.

Pearl & Dean (which sells cinema ads) likes the idea so much that they are now bringing it to the UK and are selling to talking to a handful of clients, including sun cream, bread, coffee, perfume, air fresheners and chocolate manufacturers. It is easy to see why this works. Let me think what doesn’t work. Perfume doesn’t work as it is more of a sampling product and sometimes too strong. Pharma products..a Viagra scent? Probably not. Durex? Not sure people like the smell of plastic. Tobacco and cigar won’t work. Automobile? Maybe the smell of the leather seats in a new car, this works for me. Pizza Hut? That makes people hungry, not a bad idea. 

Scent marketing is not new, we know the sense of smell is the strongest and most primal of all our senses. It vividly reminds us of moments and experiences– good or bad.  It is the first of our senses to evolve in the evolutionary chain and the sense with the strongest, most accurate level of recall. Scent is processed by the limbic system in our brain which is responsible for memory and emotion processes. It is probably more powerful than visuals. Marketers are learning how to apply multi-sensory marketing techniques to enhance customers’ experiences of a location and its products or services. These experiences allow customers to develop deeper memories and emotional connections. We know how it works fro our experiences. At least this is a area which you will be safe from Google attack, I don’t think they have a scent search engine or something that detects smell and place ads. Not yet for now.

Oh one more application I can think of. Scent can be used to prevent counterfeiting since it cannot be easily reproduced. So next time if you want to see if your friend has a genuine pair of Nike, just smell it.

Original Post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2008/07/microencapsulated-scent-will-move-beyond-sampler-into-public-spaces-and-electronic-devices.html