Smells like profit

Designing fabulous interiors often entails outlandish costs, but there is one stone that frequently goes unturned that affects the entire design outcome: the aroma of the space.

Over the past several years, consumers have definitely bought into the scent trend. Fragrances are found in almost every household and have transcended into the commercial sector. Sony used scent branding to make its female customers feel welcome with a secret combination of vanilla, mandarin and bourbon diffused by multiple electronic devices scattered throughout stores. Theme parks have increased F&B sales by implanting scent machines with infrared in shrubbery, and when guests walk by, the machines disperse cotton candy, popcorn or caramel apple fragrances.

Commercial businesses including major hotel chains have been piping custom scents into their common areas for a while now, so it’s no surprise the trend would offshoot in one way or another. Now the key is figuring out how to profit from your scent branding — selling your hotel’s fragrance via sprays, sticks and candles with the hope the whiffs will link the property with positive memories once the guest returns home. The products are a great branding opportunity as well as a corporate gift concept.

Unlike the aerosols from a couple decades ago, the scents that lure consumers today are real, as consumers crave and reap the benefits of natural fragrances. Aromatherapy experts have educated us on how scents alter moods, making us feel better. After sound, scent is the second-most powerful sense and the only one of the five senses that bypasses the rational part of our brain to tap directly into our emotions.

One of the best examples of an industry profiting from a scent or aroma that was intentionally created for a business (and not related to the candle or perfume industry) is automotive. Today, it’s no secret that auto companies have employed special teams selected for their acute sense of smell. These teams assess the odor of interior materials, rating everything from cup holders to air-bag covers and floor mats.

The smell jury puts all car elements on trial to eliminate unpleasant odors, which ultimately improves the ownership experience — thus the reason why one of the most popular scents at retail is appropriately named “New Car”!

Making profits from air is on the rise. “The Scent of Departure” is both a perfume and souvenir company and specializes in bottling the essence of a city or unforgettable trip!  Los Angeles, Istanbul, Seoul, Dubai, Paris and Budapest are just a few of the city aromas you can purchase.

Another example of aromatic profits is the Mi Pillow, an aromatic pillow designed by Pasadena, California-based designer Michaela Scherrer. Each pillow — a piece of art itself — is filled with calming lavender and can be customized with different scents.

A unique interactive experience can be found at The Scents Room inside the House of Bols in Amsterdam. Winner of the Dutch Design Award for Best Exhibition and Experience, the colorful space includes an unforgettable adventure of 36 puffers filled with scents such as strawberry, coffee, peach and mint — real user-friendly scents anyone can relate to.

As you think about ways your property or chain could tap into a profitable scent strategy, I’ll leave you with a great summary I found on environmental psychology and aroma science. And remember, when in doubt, just follow your nose. It may know things you don’t!

Need help with mental tasks: Lemon, jasmine, lavender

Need help with physical tasks: Peppermint

Need a mood lifter: Lemon, cinnamon, vanilla

Feeling tense: Cedar, lavender

Feeling anxious: Orange, jasmine, rose, cypress, bergamot

Need to relax: Lavender, rose, almond, chamomile, sandalwood, vanilla, nutmeg

Blood pressure too high: Spiced apple

Need an energy boost: Peppermint, lemon, basil, cloves, grapefruit, coffee, rosemary

Need to enhance memory: Rosemary