Researchers at Hasselt and Antwerp universities in Belgium observed the behaviour of 201 customers in a high-street chain bookshop over a period of 10 days to arrive at their findings, which also show that chocolate scent encourages browsing and distracts people who go into a bookshop with a particular goal in mind.
Customers were 3.48 times more likely to examine romance – and also cookery – books when they could smell chocolate, and they were 5.93 times more likely to buy them.
"When consumers smell chocolate, concepts associated with chocolate, such as cooking, become more readily accessible to the consumer's mind and cause consumers to react differently when encountering a cookbook than if they had not smelled chocolate," said research author Lieve Doucé.
Previous academic studies have already established that chocolate positively influences mood, invoking pleasure and arousal for the majority of consumers, and changing their behaviour so that they stay longer and examine products for longer. The Antwerp team wanted to understand how smells affect shopping behaviour if the smell goes with the product, even if the product itself has no smell.
The Antwerp study confirmed that "the presence of a chocolate scent has a positive influence on general approach behaviour and a negative impact on goal-directed behaviour in the store," meaning that people were more likely to browse even when they hadn't intended to.
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