By Sue Phillips
Having just returned from the magnificent Desert Botanical Garden in Scottsdale, Arizona, the array of cacti was a joy to behold. In addition, the wonderful works of Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures entitled “Desert Towers” strategically placed and integrated next to the giant-like natural cacti were both magical and eerie at the same time.
Magical because the bright lime green and sheer sparkling glass ‘leaves’ were so authentic, and yet eerie, because the color was so vivid amidst the dry, variegated green natural colors of cacti.
The stunning environmental display of natural cacti reminded me of a very strong emerging trend which is used to scent-brand properties such as hotels, spas, casinos, resorts, retail and auto showrooms. Environmental scenting is now becoming very popular as scent is being used in the marketing mix for many brands.
The Scent Marketing Institute estimates that about $50 million to $80 million was spent on scent marketing in 2006 and that the figure will reach almost $1 billion in the next decade. Today, there are more ways to experience and enjoy scent outside of personal care – through integrating scent into luxury brand experiences. Just as many properties now offer signature candles, home sprays, and bath and body amenities, the trend today in luxury hotels is to create signature scents to uniquely identify themselves. This allows for positive guest comments and a memorable way for guests to enjoy and ‘take’ their experience home with them. Of the five senses, studies have shown the sense of smell is second only to sight. “The one sense we can never turn off is our sense of smell”, says Harald Vogt, founder of the Scent Marketing Institute.
More than any other sensory experience, fragrances trigger our emotions, moods and memories. Think about any strong memory and you’ll find that it evokes an aroma – romantic dinners, your first kiss, seaside vacations, ski resorts and sunny days.
Our experiences with nature, family and travel are all intertwined with scent.
By spurring positive associations between a pleasing scent and a particular space, hotels create a desire to return again and again, thus bonding guests to that particular environment, encouraging brand loyalty and generating repeat business.
When guests have a delightful experience and later smell that blend, they will immediately think of their visit and want to return. Luxury car dealerships such as Lexus are also using environmental scenting to uniquely brand their showrooms and offer clients a positive experience they will associate with their shopping/buying experience.
Advertising Age named Scent Marketing as one of the top 10 trends to watch for in this decade. Projections for the combined US flavor and fragrance demand will reach $4.8 billion in 2010 with environmental fragrance goods being the fastest growing market.
The green movement has influenced consumers into wanting to experience far more complex and authentic tastes and smells, and the need for odor neutralization to mask unappealing flavors and aromas in active ingredients is fueling the growth, particularly in Las Vegas, initially to counteract the smoke odors but also as a branding tool. In Europe, South America, Australia, and Asia, scent has been incorporated in top hotels, supermarkets, and the underground in London, pubs, airliners, and many retail stores.
International branding guru, Martin Lindstrom in his book, Brand Sense, reveals the power of multi-sensory branding in an international study that was conducted in more than a dozen countries. By incorporating touch, taste, smell, sight and sound, several companies have enjoyed measurable results and success.
Here are just a few examples of Environmental Scenting from businesses we know…
Jimmy Choo stores – combination of spicy cardamom and ivy
Langham UK International hotels – signature scent is ginger flower.
Sheraton Group – light notes of bergamot with soft floral jasmine
Westin Hotels – Green Tea, Geranium, Black Cedar
Thomas Pink opts for tang of fresh linen.
Shangri-La Hotel Group – “Essence of Shangri-La” scent is fresh and clean, subtly Asian, evoking serenity and calm. Warm notes of vanilla, sandalwood and musk are fused with top notes of light bergamot and tea, spiced with ginger. Inspired by James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon” novel.
“Dancing Waterfalls at the Bellagio, Las Vegas
An excellent example of a multi-sensory experience for their guests incorporating sound, sight and scent as part of their branding strategy is the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Before entering, the hotel, the distinctive Dancing Fountains are choreographed exquisitely to diverse music from Broadway shows and opera to classical favorites. At night, music and light are interwoven to mesmerize its admirers. This is the most ambitious choreographically complex water feature ever conceived which adds to the guest experience.
The extraordinary lobby has over 2,000 multi-colored, multi-shaped large hand-blown glass flowers peering from high above the spectacular ceiling. Commissioned by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly and truly a visual delight! The hotel is silhouetted against Las Vegas’ lavender sky which is a perfect backdrop! Research was conducted to create the appropriate scent to complement the magnificent lobby which is scented with a distinctive lavender sage that has generated thousands of unsolicited positive guest comments. When guests think of The Bellagio they are reminded of the ceiling and fountains but the signature scent is what triggers positive associations of their stay.
FLOWER CEILING – Gigantic Glass Flower Sculptures by Dale Chihuly
The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens offer themed exhibits all year round, inspired by nature. Here is a display from Chinese New Year where the scent of peony and orange blossom wafted in the air. The attention to sensory detail is astounding and breathtaking! Every season is recreated with exceptionally gorgeous plants, flowers, and trees thoughtfully arranged to inspire full splendor. Specially designed lights spotlight every flower to accentuate its best features. An aromatic scent is created for each of the exhibits and designed to complement and enhance them.
Other Las Vegas hotels who scent brand are the MGM’s City Center, who use scent to make people comfortable so they’ll stay longer and buy, according to Tony Dennis, Sales Executive. The WYNN Hotel utilizes light, sound, music, color, and graphics specially designed for the large screen and reflecting pool.
75% of our emotions, moods and memories are triggered by what we smell. Recognizing the power of the senses builds a long-lasting bond with the consumer – one based on enjoyment and appreciation.
Aromas, scent, perfume, fragrance…call it what you will…is such a fundamental part of our being – it influences us, and our environment, every second of the day.
Sue Phillips, President of Scenterprise has worked with Environmental Scent Companies for many years and has been instrumental in scent-branding properties as well as Lexus of Manhattan Distribution Showroom with Air Aroma, USA. In addition, Sue offers Custom Perfume Experiences and is the Distributor of The Perfume Studio UK. http://www.Scenterprises.com