Is your real estate agent holding an open house in hopes of selling your place? Don't forget to put those chocolate chip cookies in the oven! Oh, and then turn those ceiling fans to low so the delicious aroma stays in circulation.
A classic finding in consumer behavior research is that odors influence buying behavior. When a smell hits our brain, it starts out its processing in the limbic system, which is one of the most primitive parts of the brain. We—and the people who shop with us—make decisions instantly and unconsciously based on smells. As it happens, the chocolate in those cookies gives an extra kick because the brain neurons it sets off are associated with sexual pleasure.
Now don't get me wrong. Smell's not enough to close the sale all by itself. Even the best perfume or cologne has to be backed up with the goods in order to move a relationship forward. But smell does set the groundwork. And it's not only with smells we think of as alluring. For instance, researchers find that sales of cleaning products go up significantly when a faint fragrance of Formula 409 wafts through the area.
The key word in that last sentence is faint. Make the odor of cleaning liquid, perfume, or even cookies too strong, and the customer might faint. And then there are the smells in a store that at any strength will chase off shoppers. How about the air around a dirty restroom?
As you and your staff walk the aisles, breathe freely and deeply. Your store has one chance to make a first impression. Be sure that first impression is rosy. Well, unless your shoppers are allergic to roses.