Last year, a small McDonald’s restaurant in Queens, NY, faced an unusual problem — its customers weren’t leaving. A group of elderly Korean immigrants were entering the store as early as 5 a.m., purchasing a few items, and then lingering around until after dark. This became an issue especially during peak hours (11am – 3pm), when tables need to be turned over at a high rate.

Eventually, the store reached a compromise with its customers: loitering is okay, but not between the hours of 11am and 3pm. In truth, McDonald’s has a long history of encouraging fast customer turnover; for instance, it’s customary for franchisees to install deliberately uncomfortable seats — just tolerable enough for you to get through the meal, but not enough for you to linger around.

The science of calibrating your store environment to influence customer behavior is relatively new.  For example, it’s hard to imagine a restaurant or retail store without background music (it’s mid-February, so we’ll be hearing Christmas music any day now). But it actually wasn’t until the 1980s that marketers did any kind of formal research on music’s role in the customer’s experience. Thirty year later, companies like SCAV can create background music playlists tailored specifically for your store.

So, what’s next — what’s the next variable that marketers will learn to calibrate? In recent years, retailers are starting to adjust not only what we see and hear, but also what we smell. After all, smell is the sense most tied to our emotional recollection. SCAV can help you with this type of Scent Marketing; visit one of our locations or give us a call.

Here are three things you should know about scent marketing for your business:

1. It can reinforce your brand

Close and your eyes and think about Starbucks. What are some of the images that go through your head? A misspelled name, a Norah Jones CD … those are obvious, but what about the smell? Starbucks is successful for a lot of reasons, one of which is a branded, standardized customer experience. The aroma of coffee and fresh pastries, whether you realize it or not, is a defining part of that experience.

2. It can make your customers stay longer

Unlike the McDonald’s in Queens, most retailers benefit from longer customer visits — more time wandering up and down the aisles means more time interacting with the products. Eric Spangenberg, the godfather of smelling science, conducted a study in 1996 showing that customers in scented stores spent more time and looked at more products than customers in unscented stores.

3. It can make your customers spend more money

Let’s be honest, this is the big one. None of these other things matter if they don’t translate to dollars and cents. Research shows that scents can dramatically increase the “intent to purchase” by up to 80%. Gas stations that inject a coffee aroma into the store can see sales increased by upwards of 300%.

At South Central A/V, we use scents to create exceptional first impressions and lasting memories for your brand. To learn more about what we can do for your company, visit one of our locations or give us a call, today!