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La Marque Olfactive's logo, olfactory marketing

What is olfactory marketing?

Olfactory marketing is a field in marketing that uses scents to have a positive influence on consumers. It adds to the visual and sound stimulations usually used in this context, to create unforgettable experiences. Many companies use specific fragrances to bring about emotions, to strengthen the visibility of their brand and to influence buying habits. Olfactory marketing, by diffusing pleasant scents into retail spaces, hotels, buildings and even online, aims at a subtle but significant engagement from customers. It represents a booming marketing strategy that creates a sensory connection between the companies and their public.

The sense of smell in human perception


To understand the role of the sense of smell in the sensory perception is to fully reveal its profound impact. It represents one of the most powerful of our senses that can bring about emotions, remind one’s memories and influence decisions. It is a subtle but significant trigger that contributes to the construction of a brand’s identity or the creation of a specific atmosphere.

To comprehend this sensory dimension is essential for olfactory marketing, as it allows for durable emotional connections to be built with users. It is undeniable that smells and emotions are deeply related. Smells have the unique capacity to instantly trigger emotional responses. A familiar fragrance can bring happy memories to mind, when an unpleasant smell can provoke aversion or anxiety. This tight proximity between olfaction and emotions explains why olfactory marketing has become a powerful tool to positively influence consumers, by creating unforgettable and emotionally engaging sensory experiences.

Olfactory marketing in history

Olfactory marketing goes back further in history than we could imagine. The first uses can be found in ancient Egypt, where fragrances were used in temples to create a holy atmosphere. In the Middle Ages, bakers used to diffuse fresh bread scents to attract customers, showing thereby the early use of sense of smell in trade. It is however during the 20th century that olfactory marketing plainly thrived with the first synthetic fragrances being commercialised.

In the advertising industry, the first uses of fragrances go back to the 1920s. One typical example is the soap company Procter & Gamble, who introduced the first TV ads using the smell of soap. The objective: to create an emotional relation between the customer and the product by diffusing a fresh fragrance during the advertising.

Today, several olfactory marketing campaigns are considered highly successful. For example, the retail clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch is famous for its use of a typical fragrance in its stores, that creates a distinctive atmosphere. In the food industry, the fast-food chain McDonald’s uses the smell of freshly baked bread to stimulate its customers’ appetite. All these examples show how scents were fully integrated into the marketing strategy of many brands, hence reinforcing their attractiveness and impact towards consumers.​



Olfactory marketing proves to be a dynamic and efficient strategy, ever more important in the modern marketing world. From ancient Egypt to the emblematic ad campaigns of the 20th century, the history of the olfactory marketing is rich and suggestive. Success stories such as Abercombie & Finch or McDonald’s show how powerful smells can be to create unforgettable customer experiences. Furthermore, emerging trends in olfactory marketing, such as personalisation and durability, shape the future of this field.

New innovative concepts arising such as La Marque Olfactive, which proposes an implementation of fragrance diffusers in the entrance halls of buildings, are good examples of the ongoing expansion of this approach. These initiatives show their will to reinforce the connection between brands and their public, using the sense of smell as a way to create unique sensory experiences. As olfactory marketing is developing and adapting, we understand more and more clearly how smells have a crucial role in creating an atmosphere and in making a brand unforgettable. This sensory dimension should remain an essential component of the marketing environment, by offering companies new opportunities to captivate their customers.

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