By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Have you ever smelled french fries and suddenly wanted some? Well local researchers are finding that certain scents and odors can even impact how much you spend! In today’s 3 On Your Side consumer report Jim Donovan takes a look at the scent of spending.
Could the smell of vanilla inspire you to buy a yacht? Or a hint of cinnamon entice you to purchase a Porsche? That’s what a team at Temple’s Fox School of Business decided to find out. They study all pf that and a bag of chips at the school’s Consumer Sensory Innovation Lab.
“We look at the impact of various types of sensory inputs from all five sense on consumer responses,” says Dr. Maureen Morrin, Professor of Marketing. In this particular study Dr. Morrin and her colleagues looked at the impact of various scents on consumer behavior.
The research team found that odors can influence a person’s spatial perception. Interestingly, scents like cinnamon and vanilla, which are considered “warm” scents, make consumers feel like they’re in a smaller more crowded store. Morrin says, “And that makes them feel less powerful.” That lack of control has an interesting effect on consumers. According to Morrin, “They want to restore their sense of power and so they tend to buy different things, more expensive products, premium brands. things like that.”
But when they exposed test subjects to “cooler” scents, like peppermint , Morrin says, “Then the store feels more spacious, they feel more powerful and they’re less likely to buy luxury brands.”
Dr. Morrin says these scent inspired decisions may happen without you realizing it. She says, “A lot of times the effects are non-conscious, so you might not even be aware of the impact the odors are having on you. That makes them on some level especially interesting.”
At this point it’s unclear if any retailers are actually using this information right now to manipulate consumers. But the team at Temple is finding that it’s certainly information that could useful.