Best Practices

Smell that Smell? It’s the Smell of Money

As a father of two wonderful sons on the Autism Spectrum, no stone is unturned or research unread that would help soothe my children’s anxieties and calm their spirits.

My wife and I have researched the psychology and science of scents, known as aromachology, and the behavioral benefits of certain smells. At the current time, we have the smell of lavender gently wafting through our home. It is so very faint, you wouldn’t notice it unless you tried, but alas, it is there.

This got me thinking about the stress automotive shoppers endure when stepping into a showroom. Could the same aromachology method work in your dealership?

Smells, more than any other scent, connects to our memory. (I won’t bore you by getting into the science of smells, and start mentioning things such as olfactory bulbs, limbic systems, and the hippocampus. Just know it’s real.) Other industries have been using this method of aromachology for years to affect customers’ moods.

The Las Vegas Hilton performed a study that proved gamblers spent 50% more time at the slot machines if the air around them had a floral scent. Realtors know that the smell of fresh baked bread and homemade cookies in an available property significantly improves sales. Cinnabon, the evil geniuses, purposefully place their ovens nearest to the shopper’s traffic areas as they know the smell gets shoppers to linger in front of their shops.

They call it Scent Marketing

By the way, you know the moment I wrote the word Cinnabon, you actually envisioned yourself smelling it as you walk in a mall, am I right?

Based on the research, here are just a few of the ways dealers could leverage scents, smells, or oils to psychologically improve the mood of today’s automotive shoppers:

Showroom – Lavender
Lavender calms the senses, relaxes, and quells restlessness and irritability

F&I Office – Jasmine
Jasmine not only eases the nerves, but promotes feelings of confidence, optimism, and revitalized energy

Vehicle Delivery Area – Chocolate
This scent is said to contain 200 properties that induce a sense of love, satisfaction, and well-being.

Service Department – Vanilla or Citrus
Vanilla is said to be the “happy” scent, giving the highest level of happiness, while Citrus is the most awakening, exciting, or invigorating scent. Both could make the client either happy or excited to get back in their vehicle.

Both Vanilla and Citrus scents could be offered in spray form to customers bringing their vehicles back into service. Air fresheners are often considered overwhelming but, with their consent, a spray of scent into the clients’ vehicle would benefit in different ways.

We all know how nostalgic some smells can make us feel, and how catching the right scent at the right time can make us hungry, happy, or disgusted. While nothing competes with a new car smell, your showroom likely doesn’t have a New Showroom Smell. It wouldn’t hurt to delicately bring a little science into play as a means to influence behavior, improve moods, and promote well-being.

Would you consider a bit of “scent marketing” for your store?

Comment over in the dealer forums.


Automotive trainer and consultant. I'm also a writer, speaker, movie buff, and Dad. --President of DealerKnows--