Here’s why successful retail companies care about senses


The combination of visual, tactile, and olfactive elements in a physical retail space is so important because these factors can actually influence shopper behaviour, including purchase intent.

Our brains are keenly tuned into scent. An adult can distinguish 10,000 different smells and our bodies generate scent neurons every few weeks to ensure they’re in good working order. Unlike our other senses, scent travels immediately through various parts of your brain instead of being processed centrally first.

You’ve probably heard that smell is the sense most closely linked to memory. Well, it turns out that’s actually true. When you take a deep whiff of your morning coffee, the smell of those fresh-roasted beans darts into areas of the brain responsible for emotional and memory processing. That's why smell can trigger a happy memory more quickly than touching the hot coffee mug or tasting that first sip. 

This wealth of science demonstrates why retailers are investing in scent marketing. Human physiology and psychology place great importance on the sense and links it quickly and deeply to positive memories so we can repeat those experiences — or negative memories to help us avoid them. Couple these biological processes with our other senses that add context, and retailers have a recipe to develop positive brand experiences.