I like to smell stuff…I admit it. They (you know, my good friends “they”) say that smell is the most powerful of the five senses when it comes to evoking memories. Dry California air and stale beer takes me back to college (in a good way). The smell of BBQ beef reminds me of when I was five and my dad’s Navy ship had “family day” and they served…you guessed it…BBQ Beef. Vendors at “Taste of Chicago” had their own smoky, fat laden aromas that make me miss summer in my old home town. Bengay or minty Rolaids remind me of summer at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Why, oh, why haven’t marketers done a better job of marketing with smell? I’m not talking about those annoying perfume inserts in magazines. I am talking about companies that market based on an emotional reaction using scents to tie their advertising back to a memory widely regarded as happy. Like this:
You are at Disneyland and you get on board your favorite ride “Pirates of the Carribean”. As the ride commences, you notice the yummy smell of coconut (or other Carribean themed scent). Six months later, you get a direct mail advertisement from Disney Cruise lines for their Caribbean cuise and it smells like coconut. So does the pirate toy your bought at Toys ‘R Us. The label on the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ CD has a scratch and sniff sticker (not matter what it says you know you are going to scratch and sniff that sucker). You can sniff away as you gaze into Johnny Depps dreamy face (oh wait, is that just me again?). All of this add on advertising dovetails off your initial “Pirates” experience. Why don’t brands or advertising campaigns have signature scents that work well within their target customer base?
Think about how incorporating a smell like baby powder into marketing pieces, POS displays, packaging could give people a sense of softness and comfort. How the smell of Dr. Pepper Lipsmacker could remind you that you are the most popular girl in the 6th grade. How the combination of hotdogs and peanuts makes you really want to kick the other team’s butt. And who has anything bad to say about nachoes, freshly cut grass, popcorn, suntan oil, a Victoria’s Secret store?
Now I am not sure that smells are going to sell a lot of software (but I do think there’s an application with nachoes and XBox…just a guess). But I think that marketers (especially consumer marketers), by and large, have missed the boat on a powerful marketing opportunity. And there’s a start-up idea for someone in there. I’ll be thinking about this while I stick my head in a basket of clean laundry and breathe deeply.