Luxury means different things to different people. For some, luxury evokes sumptuous interiors, beautiful lighting and carefully selected music. For others, it’s about a gourmet meal, or a bottle of expensive wine. In other words, luxury is an experience that is personal to you.
Many industries strive to offer customers a luxurious experience; from airlines and hotels to fashion, and design. Any business that wishes to elevate its brand must look at ways in which it can strengthen and enrich the customer experience it provides. For years, premium brands have been appealing to their customers’ senses. Now, in the age of multisensory marketing, brands are appealing to all five senses with scenting playing a prominent role. We are already witnessing hospitality and retail brands hiring perfumers to create bespoke scents. You can even take these scents away and recreate the experience as wearable perfumes to purchase.
Scent is very evocative. It can form a significant part of people’s memories – especially when combined with a larger experience – and can lead to stronger recognition than visuals. 73 per cent of consumers have had a feeling or memory instantaneously triggered by a scent, according to Premium Scenting’s research. People have been found to be able to recall a smell with up to 65 per cent accuracy after 12 months. Visuals, on the other hand, were more easily forgotten. Only 50 per cent of visuals could be recalled after three months.
Brand marketers, especially in the luxury hotel and retail spaces, are increasingly alive to the power of scent in creating a memorable brand experience. These individuals know that customers’ first impression – at the point they walk through the door – is crucial. When you get the right fragrance, which can be simply modified by adjusting the notes or the way the fragrance is disseminated, you can create a specific atmosphere that is synonymous with the brand and its values.
Throughout modern history, we have associated the softness and sensuality of leather with luxury. Two thirds of respondents to Premium Scenting’s recent attitudinal study found that leather was the smell they most strongly associate with luxury. When Ian Schrager opened the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, he commissioned a wood- and leather-inflected scent for the lobby, which guests can take home in the form of candles. Park Hyatt uses a blend of Russian leather, patchouli and Florida oranges to scent their corridors and invite eager customers inside.
Premium scents are carefully crafted to evoke a feeling of indulgence in the customer. Perfumers draw on universal commonalities about what luxury should and should not smell like. The smell of leather, for example, will invariably bring a consumer back to the experience of luxury simply by evoking deep-seated associations they may not even be aware of.
The implication for premium brands is that luxury relates to experience, and experience needs to hit every one of our five senses. Olfactive targeting alone isn’t enough to create a luxurious atmosphere. Contemporary hoteliers and retailers, in particular, need to consider the surrounding architecture, sounds and lighting when using scent to create the desired atmosphere. A luxury brand that appeals to our senses, including our powerful sense of smell, is going to be hard to forget.