Interview with Richard MinManager EMEA, Air Aroma Group
Richard Min, Manager EMEA at Air Aroma Group (a pioneering scent solutions company, the international leader in providing scent marketing solutions, fragrances and technologies), is sharing with us some of the Scent Marketing secrets. If you want to find out how to deliver Loyalty without points, cards or insignificant discounts, this is the interview to read. Air Aroma? Take a closer look at the pictures in this article – I’m sure you’ll find out more about them.



  1. What is the science behind Scent Marketing?

Using fragrance to enrich an environmental or personal presence is something that has fascinated humans throughout history in various industries and circumstances. Thinking back to ancient times, one might believe that scent was solely primitive, a tactic used to help humans find food, ward off diseases and disaster, or seek out a partner. However, thousands of years ago, ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome were well known for their use of fragrance oils derived from plants and flowers in medicine, rituals, and cosmetology. Egyptian high priests anointed themselves with exotic scents like cinnamon and myrrh with sweet wine. Greek athletes doused their sore bodies in lavender baths, while Ancient Romans were known to use flower-scented water at banquets in between meals.

Our sense of smell is the strongest human sense, but often it remains under valued when it comes to use as a marketing tool. With any other sense, we think before we react, but with scents we react before thinking. To put it simply: we cannot ignore scents. This has to do with the direct link between our olfactive gland and a specific part or our brain, the so called limbic system. The Limbic System is the most important part of our brain when it comes to emotions and memory.

When we are exposed to a scent, we experience certain emotions or memories, recalling an experience by its smell. There will be a strong and long lasting connection between a (brand, store, hotel, etc) experience and a fragrance.

  1. What are the most famous brands in the world using Scent Marketing?

More and more brands are looking for new and improved ways to deeply connect to their customers. Because of this, premium brands use customized fragrances as part of their overall branding strategy.

Within hospitality, many brands have their own signature fragrances, which strongly contributes to their overall guest experience and consistent brand experience throughout the world. Air Aroma has designed fragrances for hotel brands such as Sofitel, Four Season Hotels, Hyatt, Pullman and NH Hotels. Air Aroma has also worked with car companies such as Nissan, Porsche and Lincoln using a signature fragrance as part of their branding strategy and showroom experience. While retail in 2015 is all about experience, many (fashion) retail brands are implementing fragrance as part of the in-store experience. In time, having an olfactive logo will be just as common as having a regular logo.

  1. What tools/frames/steps are you using to create the most suitable fragrance for a brand?

How does this process connect with Brand Values & Customer Segmentation?

It’s very important to use a scent which really reflects to the DNA of the brand. To fully profit from using a scent, it is critical to involve experienced and skilled perfumers who fully understand the brand’s scent objectives, core values, target audience, its brand personality, interior design, etc.

Designing a fragrance is a very delicate process that lasts from 4 to 6 weeks from brief to implementation, and which requires that all of the brand values be taken into consideration. Our perfumers use a briefing document which needs to be filled out by the marketing team of the brand. This briefing document contains many questions about the brand in order for the perfumer to fully understand the brand, such as “If your brand was a colour, what would it be?”. Based on research and knowledge they use specific ingredients and fragrance notes which really represent the brand. Creating a signature fragrance is translating the brand identity into an unforgettable fragrance.

  1. How does fragrance influence Customer Experience?

Within marketing the ‘2-second rule’ is very important to consider; within 2 seconds of visiting a store the customer will determine how receptive one will be to the exposed products / services. The first impression is crucial. Taking this into consideration, it’s critical to positively stimulate customers right at the entrance; while we can’t ignore scent, using a scent at the entrance of a store, either calming or stimulating, will highly contribute to a positive mood and mind-set.

Many researchers have proved that people stay significantly longer in a pleasant smelling place. Some studies show an increase of time spent in a scented space vs non scented by over 40%. Research has also shown that scent reduces our perception of time, diminishing feelings such as impatience and anxiety.

A very interesting study, performed by Dr. Hirsch in the US, exposed subjects to an identical pair of sneakers within 2 rooms. One of the rooms was scented, the other room was unscented. Over 80% of the subjects were more likely to buy the pair of sneakers in the scented room. Even more fascinating was the difference of attitude towards the price; meaning that people in the scented room were willing to pay $12 more than people in the unscented room.

Based on these various research studies, it is clear  that the level of overall customer satisfaction is increased when introducing scent.

  1. How can you use fragrance in order to make customers come back for more?

In general, customers are more likely to return to places where they had a positive experience. As we have seen in the above examples, scent is a strong sense when it comes down to the total customer experience, because people rate the overall service as better in a scented environment.

If we assume that a customer had a positive experience in a fragrant store / place; we have made a connection between that experience and the scent in our brain. When exposed to that fragrance again, our brain will directly bring back those positive feelings and experience.

  1. How does Scent Marketing future look like in an environmentally friendly e-commerce & Internet of Things?

Overall, we see a significant increase of companies embracing fragrance as part of their branding strategy. Instead of using generic fragrances, they will design a unique fragrance just for their brand.

We have seen steady growth of scent marketing within the hospitality industry and we expect to see an increased growth over the next few years across retail and automotive industries as well.

I expect an increase of the use of scent of Point-of-Sale scent marketing tools. Some washing powder manufacturers already use this, while the scent of the washing powder is one of the main unique selling points so it’s very important that people are able to smell it before they decide which one to purchase.

But what about having people ‘sample’ your cookie by smelling it right on the shelf in the supermarket? They will definitely be seduced by the delicious scent, and may be more likely to buy the product.

Using scent can also be applied by companies who are only present on the internet and don’t have ‘offline’ stores. When a customer receives a package from an online company, the unboxing experience is extremely important to the customer and brand experience. If people can experience a smell which relates to the brand or the product, it will bring this unboxing experience to a whole new level. There are many ways to integrate scent in a branding strategy and it is not limited to companies which are present in the offline world.

Finally, I expect an increase of using scent within office buildings; for example, using scent can help employees to be more focused and in general it’s well known that people perform better in a stimulating, comfortable environment.

Scent will become more and more important within all type of businesses!

p.s. “it’s beginning ……. a lot like Christmas”

Air Aroma is present in Romania thanks to Sebastian Pintilie, Co Founder at InScentive, the official distributor of Air Aroma’s Scent Marketing solutions in Romania. We met him and Richard Min at Customer Experience & Retail Days, one of the most important events in Romania on Customer Experience, organized by Conference Arena.

Did you enjoy this article?

Subscribe to This is Retention Newsletter to be the first to find out more about what’s new in Customer Retention.