“What?” I hear you ask. “Can my spending really be influenced by what I smell?” Yes, yes it can. In this article we will discuss some scents that can influence the way you spend money.
Home cooked food and baking give an environment a cosy, homely feel. Some real estate sellers bake a pie or cake just before an open-house visit to create a cosy atmosphere.
Something you’ve probably also been aware of is the smell of baking in a shopping mall or supermarket. Smelling delicious food makes you hungry. And what is there a lot of in supermarkets and shopping malls? Food for you to spend your money on!
Is there a way to counteract this? Yes, there is a way to avoid being led by your nose. Make sure that when you go to such places, you leave the house having already eaten a meal. If you’re full, you’re less likely to spend money on food. Also, make a list of what you’re planning on buying. This will give you a reminder of what you came there to buy, which were those things on the list and not that golden, crisp croissant luring you to it. (Although it does look very good!)
This one surprised us too, believe me! Gambles at Las Vegas Hilton Casino spent much more time at the slot machines when the casino was perfumed with a floral scent. The stronger the scent, the longer they stayed.
In another experiment Nike found that people were more willing to buy shoes, and pay more for them, if the room smelled like flowers.
In a study conducted by Madzharov, Block and Morrin (2015) it was found that people were more likely to open they wallet if their environment smelled like ‘warm scents’, such as vanilla and cinnamon. The reason why this works was quite surprising. Warm scents lead people to perceive the space around them as more socially dense, more crowded with people. People feel less in control in crowded spaces, and buying things can make you feel as if you gain back some of that control.
Many stores put their hopes in the relaxing effect of lavender scents to help you feel at ease, in the hope you spend more.
The simpler the scent, the more you spend. A study by Spangenberg, Sprott and Zidansek (2012) suggests that you spend up to 20% more money when shopping in an area with a simple scent, as opposed to no particular scent or a more complicated perfume. The researchers developed two scents, a simple orange scent and a more complicated orange-basil with green tea scent. Over 18 weekdays they watched more than 400 customers in a home decorations store. Some of the days the store was left to smell the way it always does, some days they made the store smell like orange, and some days they used the complicated perfume. The days with the simple scent showed a remarkable increase in sales. Although this didn’t happen with every individual on those days, the effect is noteworthy.
Another nice side effect of a simple scent is that participants from another study by these researchers, were found to be able to solve more problems in less time when they smelled a simple scent vs a complicated perfume or nothing in particular.
So what have we learned? Many places use scents in the hope that their costumers will spend more money, but being aware of this, and prepared for it, might help you get around it and not spend money you do not want to spend.
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Want to learn more about psychology?
Teller, C., & Dennis, C. (2012). The effect of ambient scent on consumers’ perception, emotions and behaviour: A critical review. Journal of Marketing Management, 28(1-2), 14-36.
Madzharov, A. V., Block, L. G., & Morrin, M. (2015). The cool scent of power: effects of ambient scent on consumer preferences and choice behavior.Journal of Marketing, 79(1), 83-96.