The power of smell in creating immersive experiences

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Weaving emotions and memories: the strategic role of sensory experiences in brand identity


Power of smell: emotions, memories, and immersive experiences

Imagine entering a place and being enveloped by a scent that awakens deep emotions and distant memories, you will immediately find yourself immersed in an atmosphere with a Proustian flavor, or rather smell. This is the heart of olfactory experiences, a marketing-related strategy that uses the art of scents to create unforgettable sensory experiences and reinforce brand identity. It is not just a fragrance game, but a journey through time, capable of evoking past moments and creating new memories linked to pleasant sensations.

A fascinating aspect of these types of experiences is precisely their ability to recall memories, a concept also explored in nostalgia marketing: this type of strategy, in fact, is based on creating deep and meaningful connections through the recall of past sensations and emotions. By using specific fragrances, brands can evoke childhood memories, happy moments or past experiences, thus establishing a lasting emotional connection with customers.

Smell, not surprisingly, is an extraordinarily powerful sense, capable of touching the most intimate chords of our being. Each aroma has the power to transform a simple moment into an intense and engaging experience, creating emotional bonds that last over time. Just think that through the skillful use of scents, we can, for example, make the experience of an airplane flight enjoyable for those people who would perceive it as anxious and stressful.

The science of smell: from origins to neuroscience

The sense of smell is the oldest sense we possess. From an evolutionary point of view, the development of a sense organ in response to chemical stimuli, of which smells are a part, occurred long before others such as sight, hearing or touch. As proof of this, the pathway that an olfactory signal takes in the brain first touches the most ancestral areas, those assigned to emotions.

Smell can procure emotions, memories, and immersive experiences

But despite its origins and profound influence on our experiences, smell remains one of the most difficult senses to understand and describe to others, which is why it is often referred to as implicit.

However, the sense of smell performs many crucial functions, such as danger detection and a role in taste and pheromones, and although often underestimated, smell has been essential to human survival and evolution. It can alert us to danger: unpleasant odors send pain signals to the brain to warn us of a potential risk: many animals rely on smell to find partners, food and water, and to communicate.

Humans, while not having a developed sense of smell like other animals, can detect at least a trillion distinct odors, as confirmed by recent studies.

Using advanced neuroscience technologies we can now measure how scents activate our brains, understanding our physiological responses to smells and interpreting the implicit in the experiences people are having. These techniques allow us to create experiences that are not only pleasurable but also deeply engaging, awakening the deepest emotions within us and making every interaction with products and brands a unique emotional journey.

Benefits of olfactory experiences for brands

Strategically listening to people’s preferences can significantly enhance experiences, making them fulfilling and thus influencing the perception and recognition of a given brand: for example, adding a well-chosen fragrance can distinguish a brand in a competitive market, creating a positive and memorable impression. Through olfactory branding, companies can thus foster brand loyalty through deeper emotional connections than visual ones.

1 – Smell becomes a strategy to differentiate a brand

In building a brand identity, we are used to focusing on logos, colors, fonts and images to capture the soul and idea of a project and then create a story, where each element is carefully chosen to evoke deep feelings and inspire creativity related to that brand.

Now imagine adding an additional sensory dimension to this moodboard by making sure that we recognize that brand not only by these visual elements, but also by its unique scent. This sensory connection makes the brand instantly recognizable and memorable, creating a strong and distinctive identity that is deeply rooted in the customer’s imagination. A distinctive scent can become a brand’s unmistakable signature, distinguishing it in a sea of competitors.

2 – Customer experience improves

A fragrant environment not only welcomes customers but also envelops them in a sensory embrace, turning the shopping experience into an emotional journey. Walking into a store or hotel and smelling a pleasant scent can immediately elevate mood, reduce stress, and increase feelings of well-being. This creates a welcoming and inviting atmosphere, making customers feel comfortable and eager to stay longer.

3 – Loyalty increases

Perfumes create deep and lasting emotional bonds, making customers always return. A perfume can evoke pleasant memories and positive sensations, strengthening the emotional attachment to the brand. This connection makes it more likely that customers will choose to return, turning simple visitors into loyal customers.

4 – The sales are increasing

Fragrant environments can positively influence buying behavior, making customers feel more comfortable and more likely to stay and buy. Studies show that in places where the air is enriched with pleasant scents, customers feel more relaxed and satisfied, which has a positive impact on the propensity to buy.

The possible applications of olfactory experiences related to marketing

Shopping experiences

The applications of this type of experience are many and across the board: in stores, for example, scents can create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere, turning shopping into a sensory experience. For example, the smell of vanilla can make shoppers feel at home, while a fresh, light fragrance can give a feeling of cleanliness and modernity.

For example, in a repositioning project of a luxury fashion brand, it might be interesting to introduce an exclusive olfactory signature. This would not only enhance the customer experience, but also reinforce the perception of the brand as sophisticated and welcoming. Implementing targeted fragrances in different areas of stores, in fact, could turn each visit into an unforgettable sensory experience, creating a strong emotional bond with customers.

Work experiences

In workplaces, fragrances can improve the environment, increasing employees’ well-being and productivity: fresh, stimulating scents can help maintain high concentration and energy, improving the quality of work and overall mood.

Collective experiences

For special events, trade shows, and product launches, scents can create unique experiences that stick in the memory-a well-chosen scent can underscore the theme of the event, creating a consistent and memorable atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression on guests.

Experiential places

In automotive showrooms, scents can elevate the customer experience, adding a touch of luxury and sophistication: the smell of new leather or an elegant perfume can enhance the perception of quality and value of vehicles, making the buying experience more pleasant and compelling.

The sense of smell as a fil-rouge in creating experiences

The power of smell goes beyond simple fragrance recognition; it taps deeply into our emotional experience and our most intimate memories. Using olfactory experiences, this ancestral sense becomes an extraordinary tool for creating sensory moments that not only stimulate, but connect emotionally. Each fragrance thus becomes the thread of unique experiences, capable of bringing the consumer closer to the very heart of the brand, generating emotional bonds that last over time.

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8 July 2024 Valentina Cenedese

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TAG: digital marketing antropological marketing