How Advertisers Manipulate Us Through Scent And Sound

If you’ve witnessed the fetishization of “new Apple smell”, this makes perfect sense. Via the BBC:

In public spaces all over the world, companies are gunning for consumers’ attention, intruding through their ears, nose and eyes, constantly assaulting them with sounds, smells and visual props.

All the senses can be manipulated to attempt to alter consumer mood and perception. Some 83% of marketing budgets are focused on the eyes, according to Martin Lindstrom’s book Brand Sense. Stimulate two senses and the brand impact increases by 30%, rising to 70% when a third is added.

The way companies use smell and sound in addition to visual tools such as advertising posters is not obvious. The sense of smell, “has a direct connection to the emotional brain, unlike the other senses”, according to Andreas Keller, research associate at The Rockefeller University. “Evolutionarily, the emotions elicited by smells are disgust and fear – and whatever the opposites of these emotions are – and social or sexual emotions. Associated with these behaviours are very basic value judgements – ‘safe to touch’, ‘good to eat’, ‘safe to be around’, ‘good to have sex with’.”

Companies know this well. US company Inscentivation, for example, owns a scent that increases betting on slot machines in casinos by 45%, while UK company Bodywise treats its bills with an odour that makes them 17% more likely to be paid, according to Aroma, a book by Constance Classen, David Howes and Anthony Synnott.

Mr Keller says it is likely that other companies do similar things, though he has “no evidence that Apple, Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, or casinos are using smells – other than that I can smell it. Apple is not going to tell you what odour they use and how it affects their bottom line, because then you could just spray any computer with their smell and turn it into an Apple computer.”

4 Comments on "How Advertisers Manipulate Us Through Scent And Sound"

  1. Antediluviancurrent | Aug 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

    I think it’s funny when people who study marketing tell me openly how they manipulate consumers into buying pretty much anything by pressing the irrational buttons of your mind, while on the other hand claiming the free market is the only game in town because the consumer can rationally measure the costs of buying a certain product against the benefits.
    Like… Wat?

  2. Sexpanther | Aug 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    60% of the time…It works every time…

  3. Jin The Ninja | Aug 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm |

    “new apple smell”- the smell of exploitation and mining waste with a top note of petrochem-ooooooooo heavenly!

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