Beyond the marble, orchids, and glitzy features an
effective aromatic marketing tool is discovered!

The power of aroma has become a subtle but quite effective marketing tool by many well-known brick and mortar businesses.  This is chiefly due to the smell memory pure essential oils have the ability of evoking.  Companies are continually researching ways that result in customers remembering them as part of their overall marketing strategy to build repeat business. This ambiguous yet ingenious new technique is best described as subliminal marketing and advertising at an emotional smell memory level.

When traveling in SE Asia my hotel preference is one that delivers a high level of comfort,  security, and must have an exceptional spa on site. During previous business trips to this area, a particular hotel in the legendary bustling city of Bangkok was always selected. However, it failed to leave much of a lasting impression, other than luxuriously appointed rooms, and of course, has one of the top rated spas in the city. The grounds are always abundant with colorful orchids, impeccable service, Michelin chefs, but it simply failed to create a lasting emotional feeling.  

During numerous trips to Bangkok, always staying at this same hotel, another hotel could be seen from the grounds situated in eyesight directly across the Chao Phraya river. A subsequent journey to Bangkok led to staying there. 

Eager to check in after an 18 hour flight and get out of the sweltering heat, my traveling companion and I rushed inside through their enormous revolving glass doors in search of air conditioning.  Once inside, we were immediately met with a distinctly comforting, alluring, unique, peaceful and beautiful aroma that literally engulfed me emotionally. Before I could get words out to comment about this aroma my companion was already remarking about the pleasing scent. 

This wonderful aroma was present in the halls, elevators and in our room, although absent in the restaurants for obvious culinary reasons, where the aroma of Green Thai Curry and Pad Thai took center stage.  This unique aroma definitely contained Jasmine while other more subtle aromatic notes danced about to harmoniously complement it.  

The itinerary during this trip also included Chang Mai. After having such a pleasant aromatic experience in this hotel, reservations were changed to stay at their sister hotel in Chang Mai.  Upon arrival the same aroma was present in the Chang Mai property as their sister hotel in Bangkok.  The aroma was so pleasant and left such an impression that subsequent travels to SE Asia have always led to making reservations with this hotel chain. Each of their locations, located in several different countries during subsequent trips, were found to exhibit completely identical aromas.

A few years later travels took me once again to Bangkok. Staying at this beautifully aromatic hotel was definitely on the itinerary!  I was curious to find out if they were using the same fragrance remembered from previous visits, and, if the person now traveling with me would notice it as well.  Once again, upon entering the reception area there was the same aroma comforting me like a baby wrapped in a warm soft blanket.  My traveling companion, who had never been there before, immediately remarked about the beautiful aroma. This was the proof I was looking for that proved the effectiveness of this ingenious use of aroma in corporate branding.

All of this led me to inquire with hotel staff about the origin of this wondrous identical aroma being used in all of their hotels.  I had read about subliminal branding of a product through the use of a customized aroma, could this be it? 

The general manager explained that electric aroma diffusers were strategically placed in the air vents to disperse a blend of pure essential oils in order to provide guests with their proprietary created emotionally pleasurable aroma. Their hope is that guests will mentally recall this wonderful aroma when choosing a subsequent hotel stay; one that hopefully brings about a familiar and pleasant experience that culminates with one of their numerous worldwide hotels being selected. This is a most effective method of subtle emotional branding of corporate image by embedding a customized aroma through the olfactory and limbic systems of their customers.

Curiosity about the popularity of this aromatic marketing approach led to further research culminating with the fact that there are already companies catering specifically to corporate aroma branding.  There is quite a scientific and psychological approach to this clever marketing practice. 

According to a company specializing in this aromatic branding, The Aroma Company located in England, consumers use all of their senses to experience a brand. The sense of smell emotionally affects humans up to 75% more than any other sense - yet 83% of all brand communication appeals to the sense of sight alone. Additionally, the more senses involved in communicating the brand, the stronger the connection. People are more likely to take positive action based on signals received through the nose than visual signals alone. This is because smell is received by the older part of the brain, the limbic system, triggering an emotional rather than rational response. The decision process in brand adoption, engagement and loyalty is 70% emotional.  

Hotels are clearly not the only companies incorporating this method of emotional smell memory although it is easy to see how effective this approach is within the hotel industry.

Have you ever encountered corporate branding through smell memory?  We welcome your comments! 
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