Scent of a…

Oh, how the sweet smell of warm apple pie cooling on the windowsill takes you back to grandma's house. Fresh popcorn aroma whisks you away to lazy afternoons at the movie theatre. And that rubbery new shoe smell reminds you of your very first pair of runners...and Foot Locker.

Oh, how the sweet smell of warm apple pie cooling on the windowsill takes you back to grandma’s house. Fresh popcorn aroma whisks you away to lazy afternoons at the movie theatre. And that rubbery new shoe smell reminds you of your very first pair of runners…and Foot Locker.

Foot Locker? Muscling into pleasant scent-triggered memories? It’s true. Foot Locker Europe’s agency, FHV BBDO approached New York-based International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) to help them capture and bottle the ‘new shoe smell’ to use in store, in press kits, and for promotional use like having associates walk around with scented blotters to engage passersby. ‘Foot Locker figured out there was such a strong connection between the new sneaker smell and the memory of the days of youth,’ explains Angello Kostandas, regional marketing director, IFF Europe. And, the chain’s new ad campaign centres on people’s love of the new shoe smell; one print execution features a guy sniffing his new sneaker right out of the box.

‘Scent is the new and last frontier of branding,’ says Alex Moskvin, VP of New York-based BrandEmotions, the internal brand development agency at IFF. ‘Fragrances speak to your desires, your deep-seated emotional needs and aspirations…[so] scent can play a very powerful role in connecting to a brand.’

Samsung is also wading into this new frontier. Its branding agency, New York-based Lippincott Mercer, worked with IFF to develop a signature scent to be used in Samsung’s New York retail environment. The ultimate goal is for all Samsung retail spaces to have the same, instantly recognizable scent. While Moskvin declines to specifically describe what the Samsung brandscent smells like, he will say that ‘it’s a fairly sophisticated, complex fragrance.’

‘Scent is the only sense that is hard-wired to the brain…. You’re reminded of memories. In the case of a brand, you’ll be reminded of the brand,’ explains Moskvin. ‘We’ve done studies that show the presence of scent can pump up perceived value of brands.’

IFF has the technology to insert scents into textiles, carpets, fabrics and even plastic, making it ideal for the hotel, airline, apparel and packaged goods categories. Moskvin points out that inserting a custom brandscent into fabrics could be one way for major apparel brands to deal with counterfeit issues.