Brussels & Bacon

Bacon and Business? The Surprising Link Between Smell and Marketing!

What smell or smells trigger a visceral reaction for you? You know, a smell that changes your facial expression immediately when you catch a hint of it.

Brussels sprouts? Man, do they stink!


The Beach? As Kramer once asked, “So you don’t think it is a good idea?”


Popcorn? Also known as a vehicle for eating butter—or some chemical that resembles butter.


Bacon? Ahhhhhhh, Bacon! If you don’t know me all that well, you should know I have a thing for bacon. Maybe it’s because it makes my mouth water, maybe it’s because it makes me imagine pancakes, or maybe because it is just BACON!

Jim Gaffigan has a great schtick on BACON!



But you aren’t here to hear or read about brussels sprouts or my love of Bacon (did you say, BACON!?). You are here to find out what smells have to do with marketing. Well, interestingly enough, they can have quite a lot to do with it. The use of smell in marketing is not necessarily new, but it is exciting and somewhat complex.

First, scents are directly connected to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that processes emotions and memories. This allows companies that use olfactory branding to create connections with their customers through their scents. A 2006 study conducted by Morrin and Ratneshwar showed scents could enhance memory recall related to a brand, even when the scent was not directly related to a product.

Second, a customer’s behavior can be influenced by a memorable unique scent. The Scent Marketing Institute (“who knew”) found that a scent could trigger an increase in purchase intent up to 80%. Certain smells can increase the time customers spend in stores, thus leading to greater sales. And a 2013 study in the “Journal of Business Research” showed ambient scents influence shopping behaviors.

Just think about that next time you go into your favorite grocery store (Publix is always the right answer): why does it seem they fill the air with smells from the bakery and rotisserie chicken?

Lastly, think of the stores you like to shop in. Whether it is a clothing store, the Apple store, or an electronic store, what jumps out at you? Is it the music, the lighting, the colorful displays, the smells? Or is it all of that? Now, really take a moment: what is it about your favorite store or stores that draws you in? It’s probably all of those things, minus the smell, at least as far as you remember. Now next time you visit that store, take a minute to stop and see if you can identify the “scent” of the store. That might be more instrumental in your memories of what makes that one of your favorite stores than you first thought.

Till next time.






P.S. If you like this blog, please comment and share it with others. If you hate it, please comment and share it with others. Who knows? They might like it, even if you don’t. 😊

P.P.S I thought it was worth adding one last video. Even though it isn’t about smell, it is tangentially related to popcorn.

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