Does scent enhance consumer product memories?

Dec 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: Perthites wanted for study on the Aussie lingo

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scent Prediction

Apr 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.

Recommended for you

Perthites wanted for study on the Aussie lingo

3 hours ago

We all know that Australians speak English differently from the way it's spoken in the UK or the US, and many of us are aware that Perth people have a slightly different version of the language from, say, Melbournians - but ...

P90X? Why consumers choose high-effort products

20 hours ago

Stuck in traffic? On hold for what seems like an eternity? Consumers often face situations that undermine their feelings of control. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, when a person's sense of con ...

User comments : 0