Sweet smell of success

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ScentAir MENA managing director Saif Madhat.

ScentAir MENA managing director Saif Madhat.

The sense of smell is scientifically the second most powerful next to vision, so why not use it as a marketing tool to capture the attention of your target audience?

“The more sensory elements you can engage in a customer experience, the more memorable that customer experience will be,” ScentAir MENA managing director Saif Madhat said.

“This, in turn, will generate more business and keep customers shopping for longer and the longer you stay the more you spend. Scent increases dwell time, which is huge for the retailers. People are even willing to pay more for the exact same item in a scented environment, because it affects your perception of the goods and services.”

The role of scents in branding and marketing is becoming more dominant and a key factor for boosting sales and achieving targets by emotionally enticing the customer.

Sensory marketing is a new idea using multiple senses. Marketing was initially based solely on visuals before evolving into sound and, in the early ‘90s, smells.

“Scent is key when it comes to marketing because it is very much related to your emotions, mood and memory,” Madhat said.

“You are able to recall something you smell much longer than you recall something you see. This concept got its foundations in the gaming industry.”

Casinos always want to make people stay longer, feel good and spend more. The hospitality scene also has picked up on the concept.

“Hotels are always looking to create welcoming and homey environments.  It’s a great way to create brand differentiation of any name. So when you walk into any Westin hotel in the world, it is the same fragrance, it’s the same pillows in the room; it’s the same service and overall feel,” said Madhat

He explains that it’s not just about putting an air-freshener; but rather creating something unique for each property and looking at what emotions and feelings are desired.

“It’s very much a science. Fragrances are made of a pyramid. You have the top note, the middle notes and the base notes. The perfumer is the one that creates the formula and the chemists mix them all together,” Madhat said.

It is not only hotels and casinos that are tapping into the idea of scent marketing to influence customer behavior, create standardization and enhance the environment. There are many different uses of scents.

ScentAir was founded by a Walt Disney technologist who used to create scents just for the rides. Today, it provides fragrances for Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi.

“We have a burnt rubber fragrance; we even use a cow dung smell. So you’re in a Ferrari and it peels out so you get that burnt rubber, there’s a cow on the road, you drive by it and you smell the cow dung. They are not just pleasant fragrances; we do everything to simulate a real life experience,” said Madhat.

Other clients include JW Marriot Marquis, Zabeel Saray, the W Hotel in Qatar, the military, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and Zara Home globally.

So how does Madhat measure success?

“I can’t really do that in most cases,” he said, “But in some cases like with Zara Home, they sell the fragrance that we create for them and all associated products, such as, lotions and soaps and oil diffusers, and that is when you can gage your return on investment or see if your sales are affected by using the fragrance.”

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