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Stores use scent marketing to lure in customers

Thursday - 5/22/2014, 4:55am  ET

abercrombieAP.jpg
In this photo made Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009, a shopper holds a shopping bag in front of an Abercrombie & Fitch store in Portland, Oregon. The retailer is known for spraying its signature scent inside its store. Scent marketing is a blooming trend. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON - It's the smell of success -- literally.

A growing number of businesses are using aromas to pull customers into their stores and restaurants and convince them to spend money.

Some are obvious -- like the aroma of warm cinnamon rolls that are baked every 30 minutes to entice you to try items at Cinnabon. The company tells the Wall Street Journal that it intentionally places its ovens at the front of its stores because the aroma of warm, cinnamony sticky buns is critical to the company's success.

But many businesses need to be subtle when they provide the smell of things such as tea and perfume.

The Wall Street Journal reports malls sometimes put "aroma restrictions" on stores, because smells that are too strong could turn off some customers.

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, a soaps and cosmetics retailer, relies on exhaust systems to remove some of its signature potent aroma from stores, a company spokeswoman tells The Wall Street Journal.

But for stores such as Starbucks, aroma is especially important in offering the best possible customer experience.

Fashion and luxury brands have been using scent marketing for years. Take Abercrombie and Fitch, which is widely known for spraying its trademark scent in stores worldwide.

"Ambience scenting is about creating an emotional appeal to your location, something that's distinctive and will be remembered in a positive way," Raymond Matts, a former vice president for fragrance development at Estee Lauder, tells the Irish Examiner.

Edward Burke, spokesman for Scentair Technologies Inc., which sells scent diffusers, tells The Wall Street Journal that scent is most effective when subtle.

Many hotels now use tea-derived scents to avoid overwhelming the noses of guests. Warm aromas reminiscent of home are especially popular at senior living facilities, Burke says.

Retail and high-end apartment buildings are making use of scent marketing as well, according to The Wall Street Journal.

WTOP's Jasmine Song contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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