Improving the Store Environment:
Do Olfactory Cues Affect Evaluation and Behaviour.
Research conducted and evaluated by
Assistant Professor of Marketing Eric R. Spangenberg of Washington
State University, USA
Assistant Professor of Marketing Ayn R. Crowley of Drake University,
Assistant Professor of Marketing Pamela W. Henderson of Washington
State University, USA
Spangenberg Report Summary:
Objective: To determine the effects of Ambient Scent
in a retail environment.
Duration: Twenty weeks, early 1996.
Subjects and Procedure
Subjects were 298 students (46% female) recruited from undergraduate
business classes at
a large university, randomly assigned to one of thirteen conditions.
One unscented and
twelve scented conditions consisting of two neutral and two positive
scents diffused at either
low, moderate or high intensities. The scents chosen (lavender,
ginger, spearmint and
orange) were particularly unrelated to any item in the simulated
store. The store theme "one
stop shopping" contained non-floral plants, calendars, kitchen
items, books, clothing, decor
items and athletic gear. The subjects were told that the questionnaire
provided to them was
to determine the benefit of a retail store such as this proposed
for near the university. Armed
with the questionnaire, the subjects were invited to explore the
store at their own pace while a
lab assistant secretly recorded their movements from behind a
one way mirror. The
completed questionaries and observations were compiled and applied
to the Manover over-all
F-test with statistically significant results in all areas in
favour of the scented stores.
Applied Dependent Measures
Evaluation of the store. IE; bad/good, outdated/modern. 14-points
Evaluation of the store environment. IE; unpleasant/pleasant.
Evaluation of the merchandise. IE; inadequate/adequate, bad/good.
Evaluation of specific products. IE; low/high quality, poor value/good
Intention to visit the store. IE; unlikely/likely. 7-points
Purchase intentions for specific products. IE; very unlikely/very
Actual vs. perceived time spent in the store. Best guess without
looking at your watch
Number of products examined. Hanging price tags moved.
The research showed a significant difference in evaluation of,
and behaviors in, a scented
store environment vis-à-vis an unscented store despite
no other changes. Scents that are at
least neutral were found to produce enhanced perceptions; the
specific scent used did not
matter as much as the presence of the scent.
The subject customers importantly perceived the scented store
to be of higher quality in
surroundings and merchandise with a heightened awareness in specific
products and distinct
purchase intentions. Of considerable interest was the finding
that subjects in the no scent
condition perceived having spent significantly more time in the
store than they actually had.
Suggesting that the time consumers spend examining merchandise,
waiting in lines or waiting
for help can be made to feel shorter by introducing an ambient