Does scent enhance consumer product memories?

December 14, 2009

It may seem odd to add scent to products like sewing thread, automobile tires, and tennis balls, as some companies have done. But a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says scent helps consumers remember product information.

"Product scent may be particularly effective at enhancing for product information as a function of its ability to enhance a product's distinctiveness within its surrounding context," write authors Aradhna Krishna (University of Michigan), May Lwin (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), and Maureen Morrin (Rutgers University).

Scent enhances a product's distinctiveness, which helps consumers remember it down the line, the authors found. And while ambient (atmospheric) scents seem to boost memory for all the objects encountered in the scented environment (product, signs, lighting, salespeople), it doesn't much help people remember particular .

In one study, the authors had 151 participants evaluate pencils that were unscented, scented with pine scent (common), or scented with tea tree scent (uncommon). "We found that the memory for the scented pencils was much greater than memory for the unscented pencils, and that this effect was especially pronounced after a time delay," the authors write. They also found that participants' memory of the uncommonly (tea tree) scented pencils was more resistant to decay.

In a second study, the authors compared the effectiveness of product scent to ambient scent. The researchers manipulated whether or not the target product (facial tissues) was scented and whether or not the room was scented. "We find again that when a product is scented, long-term memory for that product's attributes increases, and further, that product scent is more effective than ambient scent at enhancing memory for product-related information," the authors write.

"Our studies show that product scent significantly enhances recall of product information, and that this enhanced memory for product information persists over time—for at least two weeks after the time of exposure," the authors write.

More information: Aradhna Krishna, May Lwin, and Maureen Morrin. "Product and Memory." : June 2010 (published online December 4, 2009).

Source: University of Chicago (news : web)

Explore further: Scent Prediction

Related Stories

Scent Prediction

April 18, 2007

The scent of lily of the valley hangs in the air for readers of the journal Angewandte Chemie: just rub the journal’s cover and enjoy a lily-of-the-valley scent.

Learning from our mistakes: Consumers won't be deceived twice

February 23, 2009

Sometimes a high price tag, a label, or an ingredient can lead us to believe that we're purchasing a high-quality item. But what happens if the attribute that attracted us to the product is false or meaningless? A new study ...

Recommended for you

The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

October 13, 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.