Olfactory opportunities

As noted in another article this week, good air quality is one of employees’ principal requirements of their workplace. Perhaps related to this, the smell of foods arising from the relatively modern practice of desk dining is also one of their top-reported peeves. This can even stretch into HR issues; a woman from Michigan successfully sued her employers for $10m for their failure to provide an environment that addressed her perfume aversion. Ban all smells? Let’s not be too hasty. A recent study by the Royal Melbourne University of Technology has found that certain food smells can significantly encourage impulse purchasing in shops. Melons were noted for their exceptional performance in this regard, but the study found that different smells performed better in different environments: grapefruits for department stores, lemons for fashion, oranges for furniture and so on. And apparently, the stronger the better. So, are we missing a trick in the management of our facilities? Hoteliers have been using scent marketing for decades, with lemongrass scoring very highly in the choice of aromas. More recently, office lobbies have responded to the challenge, with mint being a popular choice. ROI follows in the form of brand recognition, dwell time, purchasing likelihood, and repeat business likelihood. So, the next time your colleague cooks up a fish curry for lunch, resist the urge, and instead thank them for their contribution to creating a memorable sense of place.