30 years of studies showed that smell influences shopping

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Unsurprisingly for many of us, smell, colors, music, and other stimuli impact how we show. This is the conclusion of a study that analyzed the many studies on the topic published in the last 30 years.

Holger Rosch from the University of Hamburg, Sandra Maria Correia Loureiro from the University Institute of Lisbon and Jan Breitsohl Aberystwyth University reviewed 66 studies that look at scent, colors, and music and how these things influence our perception when we buy something. Their paper focused on three elements: arousal (how excited people are when they’re in a store), pleasure (the joy they felt in the moment of choosing what to purchase – “this store offered a pleasant experience” ) and an overall satisfaction (that refers on how we feel inside when we buy something – “I am happy for buying this”).

Clark Street Mercantile/Unsplash

Even if music or colors affects how we shop, apparently the sense of smell has the biggest impact. This in no wonder since the area in the brain related to smell is connected to two parts of the brain that are responsible for emotions and memory – so, if the smell of a pie reminds us of a happy moment from our childhood we are more likely to buy it.

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This confirms that the stores that collaborated with olfactive brands made a good step in the direction of increased sales. For those of us who don’t own a chain of clothing stores or supermarkets it’s a bad news since we as human beings are most often driver by emotion rather than objectivity.
Some of the findings in the unusual study include:

  • arousal from warm colors but decrease in satisfaction;
  • women take more pleasure from scent than men;
  • surprisingly, music and scent have more results in the service industry rather than retail;
  • the study also mentions that fictious versus actual environment may have and impact in the studies.

Christmas shopping spree is almost here so after reading this article the best thing you can do is eat before going shopping (an empty stomach is more prone to smell and colors) and wear a scarf scented with your favorite perfume to avoid the ‘environmental tricks’ in the stores.