The Scent of a Promo Sells

Article written By Maya Case for

Marketing and selling your promotion can generate interest in your brand or product. Creating a marketing plan is especially important if the product is new and/or hasn’t had much time on the market to grab people’s attention. There are many different ideas you can use when selling your promo items, including giving away free samples, offering major discounts, and rewards and drawings, among others. One idea not used nearly enough when selling promotional products is taking advantage of scents, smells and people’s ability to remember one product over another.

Why it Works

One of the major reasons that using scents and smells while trying to sell a promo works is because it increases the “uniqueness” factor. Humans are fascinated both by “unique” products and smells. For example, you only have to walk down any perfume or cologne aisle to watch people of all ages test the unique scents and take in the smells of the products. This is not the only example, however. Just think about homemade baking or cooking smells, the smell of gasoline or freshly-mowed lawns, and the smell of the air after the rain or the dew on a summer’s cool morning. In all these situations, you can imagine–from memory, of course–how it will smell.

The same is true of using a promotional product with a certain smell–it will trigger people’s memories to remember and love your product. Just as you can remember scenes of the scents and smells aforementioned, so too will customers remember your product if it has a smell. It doesn’t matter what “unique” item you’re marketing, the scent can help increase sales and make your marketing plans a success. Scented pens are a current hot seller and come in a variety of flavorsome smells and colors. Your receivers will enjoy getting one and each time they use the pen and smell the scent they will remember you.

What the Research Shows

Scientific research backs up these claims about the scent of a promotional item. A study about pairing a product with a smell and its effects on individual memory was lead by Aradhna Krishna, a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, and published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The study used about 150 university students, and these students were asked to analyze both a set of pencils with a scent and a set without a scent. The researchers found that the students could remember specific points about the pencils with the scent, but could remember only very little, if anything, about the pencils that had no smell.

The theory behind Krishna’s research at the University of Michigan is that the scent triggered an enhanced memory for the pencils, which was displayed during a test of the participants’ long-term memories. In fact, the researchers state that the scent of a product can affect a person’s recall of that product even two weeks later.

How to Incorporate Scents

The study from the University of Michigan has important implication for all advertisers and companies who want to embed their promotional items and products in the mind of potential customers. For many companies, just getting the customer to remember the name of a product can be difficult, let alone getting the customer to remember two weeks later. However, all you must do is infuse the scent into the plastic and other materials that your promotional products are made out of.

Selecting your Scent

Perhaps the first step you must take when incorporating scents into promotional items is to figure out which scents and smells you want customers to remember. Do you want a completely “unique” scent that no other product or smell can duplicate? Or do you want it to be a memorable scent like chocolate-chip cookies, vanilla, lemon or strawberry, or some other fruit or food product that many people naturally love? The scent you choose, of course, depends on the type of product you’re selling and the emotions or reactions you want to trigger.

Overall, pairing a scent with promo items makes the product you’re marketing even more unique than it was to begin with. Though scientific studies confirm it, common sense tells you that most people will remember the scented version of a product more than an unscented one. Whether you’re planning a promo for the introduction of your new line or brand, or redesigning an old product with a new twist, incorporating scents with your marketing tactics can work for just about any company or organization.