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The Power of Smell in Retail Design
| 25 Oct

Our senses influence our decision to invest into products and services and the way that brands interact with our senses can create a lasting impression. Smell is one of the least considered senses in retail design, although it can greatly affect our consumer experience and brand perception. 

Smell is a powerful sense that can affect our behaviour and mood towards environments, people, products and services. Unlike touch, taste and sight, we can not always avoid certain scents. This is one of the main problems of designing smell: understanding the level of invasiveness combined with the correct balance of factors including time, consistency and volume.

Prolitec, a company who produce scents, believe smell actually solves very specific problems and targets consumers in a strategized way. ‘Smell will not drive you to take a direct action… but what it does is give you a positive thing in your head related to that experience and brand’ says Richard Weening, CEO of Prolitec. Prolitec works with master perfumers and produces concentrated scents for commercial businesses including the Hilton, Aveda and Abercrombie & Fitch. Scents are carefully trialled in test stores to ensure perfect, controlled vaporization before scaling a brand smell globally.

Retailers Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch regularly vaporize their stores with their signature perfumes to encourage customers to purchase their products. Other businesses such as spas or massage parlours may use scent to mask unattractive odours, especially those who work with chemicals, to create a more enticing and pleasurable environment. Regardless of its purpose, introducing a unique scent can help consumers to identify and associate an experience with a brand, boosting brand recognition.

Designing smell is a very technical process and takes into account factors including humidity, heat and volatility of chemicals. Every site is different to the next and there are various elements that can greatly affect the balance of chemicals which, in turn, will affect the performance and effectiveness of smells. However, despite the complex process of designing scents, smell can positively affect brand growth and potentially increase sales.

By Dawood Pathan

For further information on your interior design or branding concept, contact Offbeat Creative at or call 020 7060 3121