Sit through a TV ad break and you’ll quickly find two senses assaulted on behalf of a third: smell. Businesses looking to sniff out a commercial oppor-tunity have been aware of its power for a long time, even if this has usually focused on shifting products that cover up malodorous breath, armpits or feet.
Time magazine reported last month that the aromas of chocolate and baked bread in the Net Cost grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, are all artificial, being pumped into the store by machine. Their story kicked up a bit of a stink, and generated considerable interest in a form of marketing that has, until relatively recently, been largely overlooked.
“It seemed to hit a raw nerve with a lot of the major supermarket chains here,” says Steven Semoff, the acting co-president of the Scent Marketing Institute. “Because, when you think about it, in the world of product promotion, advertising and branding, everything is about sight and sound. Our senses are basically saturated. No one has really been tapping into smell, and the sense of smell is directly hardwired into your brain.”