Lemon. Freshly ground coffee beans. Cinnamon sticks. The aromas produced by these items conjure up fond memories of the past, and of the locations where we discovered them. People think of their childhood homes, their favorite restaurants, or their grandmother’s kitchen. Why shouldn’t your place of work be on this list as well?
There are biological reasons why smells evoke memories so effectively. The olfactory bulb, the part of the brain that controls our ability to comprehend odors, is directly connected to the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain; and the hippocampus, a portion of the brain heavily involved with the process of memory. Scent dissemination is also an important survival tool. It helps us determine the freshness of food, or whether or not potentially harmful and pungent chemicals are in the air. In addition to terrible odors, positive memorable scents have a strong impact on memory, which demonstrates how the influence of scent on memory should not be underestimated.
Many savvy business owners have taken advantage of smell’s strong relationship to memory, crafting environments where satisfactory olfactory emissions greatly benefit them. Real estate agents leave vanilla in tinfoil in the ovens of the homes they present, giving the olfactory illusion of grandma baking cookies. Coffee companies have been known to spray a “coffee cologne” into buses and other modes of public transportation, filling these vehicles with the scent of Colombia’s finest. The results of these actions speak for themselves: a 16 percent increase in coffee sales during the week they sprayed public transportation with a coffee aroma; homes that have a simple scent being more likely to sell than those with no scent at all.
Having pleasant scents in an office setting or a consumer-focused environment is ultimately beneficial, especially in a place like a print shop. Considering that printing is an industry that has for a long time been associated with the pungent stench of ammonia, being able to turn that traditionally poor olfactory reputation into something that people will associate with pleasant aromas will only strengthen the impact of your consumer’s experience.
However, it is important to note that while complex smells like chocolate chip cookies or freshly baked pizza may unlock happy memories in your clients, it has been shown that simpler smells are more effective in a sales environment. Smells that are too complex distract consumers — their attentions suddenly turns from the products you sell to the smell they’re trying to pinpoint. It is better to use a singular smell, such as cinnamon or vanilla, as opposed to a complex smell composed of a variety of different ingredients, in order to maintain the consumer’s attention while still providing a positive olfactory experience.
Strong visuals will always be the preferred way to advertise and draw consumers to your place of work, and catchy jingles can provide a noticeable uptick in sales, but people should not discount a nice smell, and its ability to increase sales and improve the consumer experience.