Empowering Your Brand with Scent

You can sell your brand through scent marketing.

How does your brand smell?

For hotels, this is perhaps the toughest question any marketer or consumer can ask regarding brand identity, simply because many of our answers regarding a brand were focused on visual information. People can describe a brand through its color, font or symbol – a brand is what we see.

Establishing a brand in the hospitality industry, particularly the hotel industry, is not simple.  It sells experiences.  As such, for the brand to create the impact it needs, it would require more than visual elements.

This is where the sense of smell becomes a plus factor.

It makes sense.  Research indicates that the olfactory nerve and memory are strongly linked to one another.  The nerve is near the limbic system and amygdala, both responsible for emotions and memories, prompting nostalgic personal associations to events or objects from previous experiences. The nose has the ability to differentiate around 350,000 unique scents, affecting 75 percent of a man's daily emotions. Research further proposes that visual information can be better stored if complemented with smell.

Scent Marketing

This is the basic idea of “scent marketing" by WAVScents.  For brands to linger in a consumer's brain, a stealth mechanism is used through the use of scents inside the service establishment where consumers can immediately associate one's brand with a smell. WAVScents, a division of WAV Atmospheric Branding whose core business is designing instore music and brand messages for establishments, is the only Filipino provider of signature scents for hospitality, leisure, and retail spaces.

Some of the clients of WAVScents are Resorts World Manila, Marriott Hotel Manila and Marriott Hotel Cebu, Discovery Suites, The Bellevue Manila, The Bayleaf in Intramuros, The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, and Power Mac at Greenbelt 3, among others.

WAVScents’ Operations Manager, Alan Jan P. Giganan, described how each client attempted to suit their market's demographics and preferences with the appropriate fragrance, ultimately smelling their way into greater brand equity.

The Bayleaf Hotel, a 57-room boutique hotel in Intramuros, wanted a powdery, clean and fresh scent. Its General Manager, Ed Vitug, tested the fragrance provided by WAVScents during the grand opening to see how the guests would initially react.  Mr. Vitug later decided to stick with the chosen smell after TV host and Leyte representative Lucy Torres-Gomez complimented The Bayleaf because of its lobby fragrance.

Marriott Hotel Manila and Marriott Hotel Cebu adopted a sweet musky fragrance. The Manila property’s objective was to eliminate the odor of smoke in three (3) areas inside the hotel while leaving a scent that would make a lasting memory to its guests.  The Cebu property followed, as a believer of Ambient Scenting, to promote a Signature Fragrance that Marriott Hotels in the Philippines can have ownership of.    

WAVScents uses oil-based products instead of the harmful alcohol-based ones.  The scent is diffused with the use of dry vapour or cold fusion and not heat or aerosol.  This is to prevent the toxic mutation of chemical properties caused by heat or chemicals.  

Cost vs. Investment

An appropriate indoor fragrance influences the way people will behave.  For instance, Mr. Giganan related that in the United States, one employer would diffuse the scent of lavender in the workplace to relax employees.

The same is true for all service establishments ­ from spa to hotels, to retail stores, malls, and even hospitals. Unfortunately, Mr. Giganan said, that Philippine-based businesses mostly see fragrance as a cost rather than an investment.

But the mere fact that many hotels are including scent marketing into their annual budget reveals the reality that in an industry that's continuously growing, distinguishing one's brand from competitors means investment in small essentials with big, long term, and nostalgic-effects.

Surely, the power of fragrance can be so strong that even if a repeat client were to search the whole city for the brand, eyes-closed, all it would take is for them to follow their nose.

Written by Paolo Abellanosa