Consumerism: The Modern Pavlov

Everybody has at least some remote knowledge about the experiment of Pavlov and his dogs: once they heard the bell ring, they knew the food was to be served. In a world dominated by the policy of consumerism, it can be argued that people often take the place of a modern-day Pavlov`s dog, in relation to what they buy and what they think they buy. Yet, when it comes to food shopping, there is no denial: most impulses of choosing specific products are triggered by the five inborn senses, especially by the strongest and most intricate out of them, which implies that food retailers have a wondrous advantage over the customers: the power of smell.

Walking along the sweets section in a supermarket and suddenly feeling like eating a bar of chocolate; going out with your friends in a fancy restaurant and ordering sushi, which you had never tried before, but only because it smelled delicious on someone else`s table etc.: these are frequent, daily and common situations which one may happen upon – and they all prove that senses can work in pairs. The nose is breathing in, the mouth is already watering in delight, even though the stomach is not yet hungry and the eyes are yet to see the delicatessen.

The Art of the Fragrance

Mastering the use of scents is a trick many food retailers have started availing of. Have you ever noticed that every McDonald`s on this planet has the exact same smell of French fries and beef? Or that in Lindt stores, the scent of chocolate is uncannily intense and rich? These are only some examples, because almost every food retailer uses smell one way or another, even the tiniest corner store on your street.

Of course, we can link various food scents with various customer reactions, depending on the purpose of a scent encountered in a store. Pastry shops often use the scent of freshly-baked cookies to trigger memories associated with warmth, family and childhood, due to the fact that most customers had a granny once who baked for them too.

In bars, there is a strong beer scent or an inviting Merlot aroma to persuade people into buying alcoholic beverages – and, consequently, into spending more or carelessly. The same technique is also used by some traveling agencies – their rooms smell of mango and Pina Colada, to create the olfactory illusion of exoticism among their potential clients.

The Benefits of the Retailer

The benefits of a retailer who knows how to maneuver the issue of food scents are incredibly numerous and especially lucrative: studies show a 300% rise in sale figures for retailers which use food scents, compared to those who do not. Moreover, the ambiance of the store is generally suggested through fragrance, and this is how a first-time customer can pick out a place to eat, based on where their nose is guiding them. When lacking the ability to taste something, smell is the best alternative, although it can be misleading.

For instance, think of a bag of gummy bears that had gone off – they still smell like strawberry, but they taste closer to plastic than to an actual fruit. In addition, a retail shop that develops its own olfactory fingerprint already takes a giant leap towards becoming a popular brand, because people tend to have a higher degree of accuracy in their olfactory memories than in the visual or in the auditory ones.

Just a Subtle Hint of Coffee

It seems like Starbucks has developed the true smell of success – its core lies in the strong aroma of roasted coffee beans. A few years ago, they faced a decline because of a misuse of scent; according to their CEO, “the smell of the company’s breakfast sandwiches overpowered the aroma of coffee and new flavors had replaced genuine inspiration.”

Is it possible for a hint of coffee to be so convincing that it may make you more likely to buy a cup, even if it is over-priced or if you do not drink coffee on a regular basis? A positive answer is self-evident.

Coffee is a complex substance with as many as 5000 compounds, which is not only able to stir up good, positive feelings, but it can also awaken you only by its smell, especially if you are already a caffeine addict.

What Is the Most Appealing Scent of Food?

We all enjoy indulging ourselves with a nice meal at a restaurant every once in a while. According to a recent study, the preferences in what the ambience of the ideal restaurant should smell like vary greatly: some chose a scent of baked bread with spices, such as basil, rosemary and garlic; others chose the sweet flavours of desserts, whereas a vast majority chose the smell of a roasted chicken which had just been taken out of the oven.

But this, of course, depends on who your customers are; to exemplify, it would be impossible to convince a Uni student on an early Sunday morning that there is any scent better than frying bacon. What is sure is that scents, especially in food retail, can be sold or can improve the sale process and the customer`s experience, without challenging the ethics of the retailer – and even if they were an unfair advantage…it would be a genuinely pleasurable one.