Scent Marketing: Subliminal Advertising Messages

stock-photo-16339343-perfumeBernadette Emsenhuber
Johannes Kepler University Linz, Department of Pervasive Computing

Abstract                                                                                                      Store chains and service providers beguile customers with a pleasant shopping atmosphere often realized by installing scent diffusers to evaporate overwhelming fragrances. Such systems named as olfactory technology are becoming a standard interior of commercial locations as well as public places and are more and more gain importance in human-computer interaction. This paper delivers insight into current air design technology, the psychological background of scent marketing and gives a basis of discussing the relevance of olfactory communication for pervasive advertising and human-computer interaction.

Like other media-based business advertising industry is increasingly confronted with the problem of information overload. Penetrating this bead of information and reaching costumers with advertising messages appreciably becomes difficult. An important issue for advertisers is finding new methods to persuade consumers of their goods and services. First impressions coming up with the word advertising are posters, newspaper ads, commercials on TV or radio, etc., actually visual and auditory media. But the advertising industry also uses consumption raising instruments like scents which can manipulate consumer behavior by unconsciously raising emotions and consequently manipulating purchase decisions.  Experts defined this type of advertising as scent marketing or air design. The olfactory perception is an interface which allows a very subliminal communication between human beings and their environment because of a direct connection of the olfactory system to our emotional center. In the mid nineties psychologist examined the effect of scents on purchase behavior and confirmed that perfumed sales rooms would contribute to increase
sales [Sto98]. Therefore marketing experts did not hesitate to use the olfactory channel as ¨medium for subliminal messages.

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Image: © Talaj

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