Using Smell to Sell

From 6 years experience in retail and Visual Merchandising you could say that I have a strong, personal and vested interest in the high street and it’s workings. I’m hooked on programs such as, Mr Selfridge, Mary Portas ‘Queen of Shops’ and Liberty’s. Which delve behind the scenes, revealing aspects of the secrets of the shopping experience as well as showing the current battles our shops face on a daily basis. Mary of course is our Boudica heading the fight.

For 6 months now we’ve had no television, but thanks to my boyfriend’s generous parents, yesterday, I got my daily dose of retail therapy through (one of my style crushes’) Cherry Healey programme ‘Secrets of the Sales’. Due to my experiences in Visual Merchandising I am well accustomed to shops’ layout and the reason behind them. However, you don’t have to be a retail veteran to know that sale signs are red in order to attract our attention. Yeah ok we all probably sat there on our sofa’s smugly thinking “gee thanks Cherry for pointing out the obvious”. Wipe that smile off your faces though cause outside of the retail environment we may spot the danger signs but once we walk through those doors it seems we lose all sense and sensibilities and instead are pulled around the shop like puppets of the VM.

Cherry had a surprise for us all though, one which took us from our smug slouch position to the edge of our seats. Shops use scents to encourage us to buy! She demonstrated these magical powers of calming vanilla essence on two sample groups. The first group was brought into the room (which was unscented) and shown a pair of trainers. The scent was then blown into the room and the second group came in and were shown the exact same pair of trainers. Yep you guessed it…the second group reacted a lot more positively to the shoes than the first, they were even willing to pay more for them!

If you think about it logically, creating a nice environment in order to showcase and sell your product is as obvious as using red sale signs, smell is just another one of those 5 senses to please. Sometimes the obvious doesn’t seem obvious until someone points it out though. So guys, noses at the ready – let’s go shopping!


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