Professional Jeweler Archive: The Path to Your Customer's Heart

May 2000

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The Path to Your Customer's Heart

Believe it or not, it may be through his nose


Restaurants spend big bucks to direct the smell of sizzling steaks or baking bread onto the front sidewalk. Walk into a flower shop and there it is, the smell of damp earth and spring. And let’s not forget the smell of sawdust – with its hint of possibilities – in the lumber section of the local home improvement warehouse.

But what is the scent of platinum or diamonds?

Jewelry has no smell, of course. But because aroma packs a powerful emotional wallop, savvy jewelers consider it an important element in a customer’s shopping experience.

Even e-tailers may be getting in on the act. A company called DigiScents is marketing a computer peripheral device that, if a user clicks on a banner ad for donuts, releases that aroma right into his face.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a smell is worth a thousand pictures,” DigiScents cofounder Dexster Smith tells The Wall Street Journal.

Face it, if we like an aroma, we linger. If we don’t like a store’s smell, we’re out the door much faster than we would be if the lights were too dim or the aisles too crowded.

Sophisticated Sniffing

The choice of aroma is not uncomplicated. “The spectrum of options runs from simple, single aromas to complex mixtures of many different ingredients,” says Mark E. Peltier of AromaSys, Minneapolis, MN, which sells aroma technology to retailers. “Retailers selling traditional products to a traditional customer generally do best with simple aromas, while those dealing with a contemporary or avant-garde product or audience want something different, more complex.” Think Columbus, Ohio, vs. New York City.

Applied to jewelry, this means a retailer whose top seller is engagement rings with round stones and a yellow-gold band might choose the simple aroma of carnations. A jeweler selling designer jewelry to a hipper-than-thou clientele might choose something more challenging, such as “Summer Garden,” an AromaSys product with 20-30 ingredients.

In real-life stores, however, it’s seldom that simple. Columbus has trendy stores, and even Gotham has Middle America-type niches. Factors such as geographic location and the gender of the ideal customer also skew the decision.

“Men like woodsy and spicy aromas,” he says. “Women prefer softer, more floral scents.” Combine this with some distinctive regional scents – eucalyptus on the West Coast, pine in the mountains, floral in the Deep South, citrus in Florida – and the choice may seem impossible.

“It’s not a black-and-white issue,” says Peltier. “Most retailers end up blending the various factors when they make their decision.” A few use one scent in part of the store, other scents elsewhere.

But don’t look for a sales spike.

“We have customers who claim sales are [positively] influenced by smell,” says Peltier, who views aroma as just one of many elements in decor. “But we don’t consider it documentable, and we don’t sell our system based on that.”

Still, there’s nothing subliminal about aroma, he says. Pleasant aromas are not common and they’re more emotionally stimulating than, say, background music. Customers should notice and comment.

“The ideal reaction is, ‘Oh, I love how your store smells,’” says Peltier. “If they don’t, there’s no point in doing this.”

– by Mark E. Dixon


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications