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I opened my fridge this morning. “Oh! I finished the milk last night” – I said to myself. Hence, no cereal, and therefore no breakfast. I rushed to the local supermarket. I needed milk, and I needed it urgently. I was starving. While I was rushing to the milk aisle, I smelt bread. Freshly baked. Now, I had an entire loaf lying in the fridge, but this one smelt SO good. I picked a loaf and neatly placed it in my shopping cart. The smell of bread made me so hungry, that I also ended up getting a pack of pancakes. “Oh wait, where is the milk?” I thought. I headed to the milk section. After another 3 stops of random purchases of things I didn’t need, I finally got to the milk section. Contempt with my half full trolley, I proceeded to the cash counter. I saw the bill and wondered how my Rs 50 purchase produced a bill of Rs. 500.
Intrigued by my regretful shopping experience, I came back home and decided to find out why I did what I did. I was amazed to find a ton of literature on the science of using fragrances in the retail industry. I always knew this existed, just didn’t know the extent of it.
Human beings are highly receptive to fragrances. Smells influence the human mind without them even knowing it. This human capability is exploited by marketers all around the world, more than you will ever realize.
Even though this practice has recently come to light, it’s certainly not a new one. The produce section in our neighbourhood stores is mostly sprayed with a smell of fresh cut grass, to make you believe that the products are fresh.
The aroma of coffee is scented at the entrance of malls, to draw you to the cafes. Bakeries emit a smell of freshly baked bread to make you believe that the smell is directly being released from the tasty yummy bread, but that’s far from truth. The swimsuit section is sprayed with a smell of coconuts to remind you of holidays. The baby section is sprayed with a light lavender fragrance to sooth you while you shop with/ for your kids. It’s all done, so you can shop more, spend more, and also enjoy more (or regret later). It’s the smelly truth.
Don’t forget to hold your breath next time you enter a store.