PPM Article: How senses drive sales

How sense drive sales

PPM Article “Attacking the Senses” by Guy Blaskey, originally published in Pet Product Marketing.

If you’re selling your house people will tell you that you should bake some bread so that the house smells homely and the people looking around want to buy it.

Supermarkets pump the smell of fresh baked produce into their shops to make you feel hungry so that you buy more bread and donuts, but it doesn’t stop there… a chain of bedding stores reportedly uses the relaxing scents of wood and bergamot, Westin hotels use a scent based on tea to make their reception areas appear peaceful, even the electronics giant Sony has got in on the action having it’s own custom-made scent developed for some of their stores.

We don’t always register it , but many shops have a scent, and they can make us more likely to buy. A researcher at The National University of Singapore ran an experiment using scented and unscented candles. She found that 67% of women in a room with a hidden chocolate-chip-scented-candle were likely to buy a sweater, whereas with a hidden unscented candle only 17% were likely to buy one. That is a huge increase in potential sales, for the cost of a simple candle.

A similar experiment by Washington State University used the scent of vanilla in the women’s department of a clothing store. They found that sales nearly doubled on when the store had a scent of vanilla.

They repeated the same experiment in the men’s department. It did not work. At least it did not work with vanilla. However when they repeated the experiment with a ‘rose maroc’ scent sales in the men’s department went up 50% (apparently rose maroc is a sweet, floral and warm scent).
So if your customers are mostly female go and grab yourself some vanilla scented candles and hopefully you will enjoy the sweet smell of success!

Smell isn’t the only subtle change that you can make to make a difference. Many people who grow plants say how much difference music can make to the plants’ growth rates. Reportedly hard rock and heavy metal can have detrimental affects on growth rates and health, whereas classical music improves growth rates. As well as changing the way that plants behave music can also change the way that we behave.

London Underground has experimented with sound. When they played classical music in the stations robberies dropped by 33%, assaults on staff by 25% and vandalism of trains in stations by 37%.

Researchers from the University of Leicester trialled French-sounding accordion music and German-sounding brass-band music in a supermarket. On the days when the French music was playing 77% of customers purchased French wine, whereas when the German music was playing customers went for German wines. When the customers were questioned at checkout only one of the forty four customers questioned mentioned the music.

So sound is clearly important to how people act, and what they buy. I have not managed to find any studies on the affect that different types of music can have on sales in pet shops, but it is definitely something worth looking into. Why not try a few different types of music, or even a few different radio stations over set periods of time and see if they make any difference to your sales. If they do please write in to me (guy@poochandmutt.com) and let me know which music worked and which didn’t.


Some of the information for this article was taken from the books; “The X and Y of buy” by Elizabeth Pace and “Buyology” by Martin Lindstrom.