sábado, 25 de julho de 2009

Brands target sense of smell

By Reena Amos Deyes, Emirates Business 24/7

Smell is one of the most powerful senses. Memories, imagination, old sentiments and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.

In humans there are four genes for vision, whereas there are 1,000 allocated to scent, which means we have the ability to differentiate more than 10,000 odours.

According to the Sense of Smell Institute, 75 percent of all emotions we generate are due to what we smell. Businesses are well aware of this and for years they have used the power of scent as an important marketing tool.

Although scent branding is still a relatively new approach throughout the world, experiential branding is a rapidly growing trend and more and more companies are realising the power of scent to build these experiences. In 2003, about $30 million (Dh110m) was spent on aroma marketing around the world, by 2010 that figure is set to reach $220 million.

Explaining the importance of aromas, Olivier Auroy, general manager in the Dubai office of Landor Aoociates, told Emirates Business: "To understand the importance of aromas, think of the kind of feelings and emotions you have when you smell something good.

"In some shopping malls in Europe, they diffuse an artificial fragrance of cooked bread near the food court as it usually stimulates the visitors' appetite and takes them to the restaurants.

"Research has shown, for example, that the smell of a roasted chicken was the most universal appetising smell in the world."

Now brands are set on a new quest to enhance their image through the use of aromas. This new formula is called aroma branding or olfactory branding.

Hermann Behrens, CEO of The Brand Union, Middle East, said: "The branding trend is moving towards experience and every day it is becoming more and more difficult to reach out to audiences through different touch points. Eighty-three percent of the commercial communication we're exposed to every day is crafted to appeal to just our eyes.

"However, aromas, if used wisely, help build those experiences as they create memories and emotions.

"Aroma branding helps build memorable emotional connections and recognition of a brand through scent. Moreover, it facilitates the perception of higher-quality products, enhances the environment, and boosts your brand identity."

The most well-known examples of successful aroma branding are from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Crayola. Their brands have now become the owners of generic smells.

For example, Johnson & Johnson has become the baby smell. With the success of its baby lotions and powders, J&J is instantly recognisable and evokes the association of how sweet and clean babies smell.

The smell of Crayola crayons is also instantly recognisable and can take most of us on a nostalgic trip back to childhood. Crayola's smell is ranked 18 among the 20 most recognisable smells in the United States.

Some aromas have such strong association with the brand, that companies, such as KFC, now regard their signature aroma as one of their key brand ambassadors.

Auroy elaborated: "Scent branding is the creation of a scent that delivers on the strategy for a brand.

"It is important as it offers a unique opportunity to connect with the consumers in the best possible ways.

"Using scent as a brand identifier has been slower to catch on outside the fashion industry [where certain retailers, such as Victoria's Secret, have long used fragrance as part of the sensory environment in their stores]. But as it becomes ever more difficult to gain consumers' attention in an increasingly cluttered environment, more and more companies are looking to fragrance to help distinguish their brands from the competition. This is because smell has an impact on the consumers' perception.

"When we work with big corporations, we always take into account fragrances when defining the customer journey. It is often underestimated. But if you think of it, the lobby's environment, what it smells when you come in for the first time, will directly impact your perception of the place and give you a first impression about the company. If the company's lobby of smells coffee, it sends a certain message to visitors. If the company's lobby has a nice smell of flowers, the message will be completely different."

© 2008 Arab Media Group. All rights reserved.

This article was first published in Emirates Business 24/7 (20 June 2008).

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