Coming to Our Senses: How Scent Can Enrich Our Lives

Social_mediaIf you subscribe to any marketing-related publication or feed, you have probably noticed that 80% or more of the articles center around social media and digital marketing, and I get it, I really do. Social media marketing, mobile and web marketing are the latest completely new form of marketing (never mind that on most social media platforms, people do not want to be bothered by ads or interact with brands). But if you’ve ever seen a group of teenagers standing around simultaneously texting and not talking to each other, you might share the feeling that something vital is missing from this digital universe. That important something is a shared physical experience and interaction with (gasp!) real people.

As humans, we interact with our world and make decisions based on the information we get through our five senses. It is also through these five senses that we marketers can engage with them in a pleasant, meaningful and long-lasting way. The vast majority of marketing is done using the senses of sight and hearing, so we don’t need to discuss that now. Taste is a tricky one for marketing, unless you are selling a food product, and touch is limited, so let’s talk about smell.

Because we unconsciously smell with every breath, we can take our sense of smell for granted. In a survey of young people ages 16 to 22, 53% of them said they would rather lose their sense of smell than their laptop or mobile phone. Yet we also know that when people do actually lose their sense of smell, a condition called anosmia, they can lose their appetite, sense of taste and sex drive and can become depressed and/or malnourished. While being able to taste food, have a normal sex life and being able to “stop and smell the roses” are wonderful benefits of the sense of smell, there are many others that most people are not even aware of.

  •      Mood -Smelling certain scents has been proven to make us happier (citrus), less anxious (lavender), more comfortable (vanilla) and more alert (peppermint)
  •     Better performance – Scent can improve both athletic performance (peppermint, jasmine), cognitive performance (rosemary) and work performance (lemon)
  •     Nicer and more cooperative – In the presence of a pleasant aroma (citrus, baked goods), people are more likely to help another person and the use of scent in prisons reduces violence.
  •     Improved memory – Smell is the only sense that is directly connected to our brains’ associative learning and memory center. Using scent for recall has a number of uses, including helping students remember material for academic tests, sparking buried memories in seniors and reminding resort guests of their wonderful vacation.


All of these benefits not only improve the customer’s experience but also produce benefits for the businesses that use them. Improved customer mood translates into more time in stores and higher sales. Better performance in employees benefits employers. More cooperation is a boon for employers, is useful in negotiations, sales and charitable giving. Memory benefits help companies strengthen their brands, reinforce their products’ features and encourage repeat purchases.

So next time you are in a public place, look up from your mobile phone for a minute and take a deep breath and appreciate the smells and the people around you. Your life will be richer for it.

Written by: Jennifer Dublino


About the Author

Jennifer Dublino is the COO of the Scent Marketing Institute. The Scent Marketing Institute is a not for profit organization whose mission is to educate companies and the public about the power of scent and sensory marketing to increase sales, improve product evaluations, create customer loyalty, strengthen brands and improve the overall customer experience. For more information on scent marketing or to find a solution provider, contact her at or visit the website, Jennifer also runs ScentWorld, the premier scent and sensory marketing conference in the world. Experience the brilliant speakers, profitable ideas and great networking at ScentWorld in New York City February 6-8, 2013,

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