Scent marketing: linking the scent congruence with brand image


Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine the role of scent congruence with the brand image in the
formation of consumers’ reactions to the atmosphere of a place.
Design/methodology/approach – Using a factorial design (i.e. scent congruent with the brand image,
scent not congruent and control), an experiment was conducted in a multi-service and hospitality space
welcoming both local consumers and tourists (N = 303).
Findings – The findings show that when the scent is perceived as congruent with the brand image,
reactions in the store are more favourable. It is not enough to use a scent that “smells good” or that is
congruent with other factors (e.g. sensory environment); the scent must be perceived by consumers as
consistent with the brand image. Findings also reveal that the diffusion of a scent congruent with the brand
image improves guest satisfaction, intention to revisit and perceptions of the product and service.
Research limitations/implications – The limitations are both the emphasis on direct links and the focus
on a French brand (café/co-working space franchise). Itwould be appropriate to extend the research to other contexts.
Practical implications – The findings show how important it is for hospitality organisations to use
scents to generate a positive impact on their guests. Hotel, restaurant and café managers wishing to enhance
customer reactions through the creation of an olfactory atmosphere should take scent congruence with the
brand image into consideration.
Originality/value – The study of the effects of the atmosphere on consumer behaviour as a function of olfactory
congruence with the brand image uses in-situ experimentation (café/co-working and food and beverage area).

Publication type: 
Scientific Article
Date de parution: 
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management