Selling Through Scents: The Rise of Scent Marketing

A person breathes 20,000 times a day and each breath is a chance to pitch a product.

In recent years, retailers, hotels and restaurants have turned to the creation of carefully distinct smells to attract customers, boost consumer spending and create memorable brands. In fact, LA Times has dubbed scent as the “Last Branding Frontier.”

Emotions are always at play in brand preference and using scents as a new way of communicating to consumers is possible because the sense of smell prompts immediate reactions from the receiver. With the olfactory bulb directly connected to the brain’s limbic system, the parts responsible for emotions and memories, scents can trigger favorable and lasting emotional responses. This makes the nose the fastest way to one’s heart.

Numerous studies have already been made in various industries, which have attributed their success to the use of scents:

  • Hotels and Resorts: Scent enhances the mood and creates brand loyalty thereby increasing repeat guests.
  • Retail: 84% of people would most likely to buy and would pay 10-15% more on a product when sold in a scented room.
  • Workplace: People who work in the presence of pleasant scent reported higher self efficacy, set higher goals and were more likely to employ efficient work strategies compared to those who work in a no-scent condition.

In the Philippines, Oscar Mejia Artisan Fragrances is the leader in scent marketing preferred by top international hotel chains, luxury resorts, leading brands and multinational corporations. In the past 4 years, these companies have maximized the use of artisan fragrances in lobbies, show rooms, exhibit spaces and product launches.

“It is always an interesting process to translate a brand’s look, character and tone into something tangible such as scent,” shares Filipino Perfumer Oscar Mejia. “The process is very much similar to creating a personalized scent where one tries to capture an individual’s personality, passion and memories.

“For example, the scent developed for Radisson Blu in Cebu speaks of comfortable elegance, something that invokes the carefree spirit like sprawling under the blue sky to revel in the gentle breeze and warm rays of the sun. So we put together some bright notes of apple and bergamot, and combined these with warmer tones of rosemary and lime.”

In the case of Ugen Island Resort, Oscar Mejia wanted to capture a day in the beach so he created a scent that opens with olive, reminiscent of early morning bliss, then moves to aquatic notes, with hints of sampaguita priming you for a day of island adventure. The scent then leaves a sultry warm note of patchouli evoking a beautiful sunset by the bay.

Marketing has always been about appealing to the eyes and the ears, but with the sense of smell’s ability to elicit immediate and more lasting emotions and memories, there remains a wide-open and fertile ground for marketers to work with.

For inquiries about Custom Scent for your brand, contact Oscar Mejia Artisan Fragrances at 0928 550 1702 or email

Source: Bradford, K. and Desrochers, D. 2009. The Use of Scents to Influence Consumers: The Sense of Using Scents to Make Cents. Journal of Business Ethics. 90 (2):141-153