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Roger Bensinger: Scents and Sensibilities




Identify the fragrances that match your store’s personality.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 edition of INSTORE.

Savvy jewelers have always paid careful attention to the in-store experience, knowing the importance of fixtures, flooring, wall coverings, lighting, sound and the art and science of merchandise display. But while jewelers do a lot to appeal to shoppers’ eyes and ears, they often neglect another hugely important aspect of the sensory experience: the nose.

And yet research shows that the mere presence of an ambient scent in a store can cause visitors to feel better served by associates. One top chain in Europe diffused an ambient scent in its checkout areas and found that this contributed to a sense of time-compression among shoppers in the space. Another study showed people stayed longer, spent more money and felt more satisfied when in a scented retail environment. Although we might not be able to pinpoint exactly why, the implication of this research is that customers will walk away from an appropriately scented store with a better overall impression. And they might even spend more time and money there as well.


The question, then, is how to go about appropriately scenting your store.

A good first step is to choose a fragrance that works well for your brand. Generally speaking, floral scents such as rose, jasmine, gardenia, orange blossoms and violet are most appropriate for jewelry stores. Within this overall “scent scheme,” there can be great variation. Like a fine wine, a given fragrance might contain dozens of different notes detectable by the nose. One way to home in on the type of fragrance that would work best for your store is to match your brand adjectives to fragrances that call to mind similar descriptive terms. In fact, some scenting firms actually maintain databases of scents and their known attributes. This leads to plenty of options for attribute matching.

In other cases, the process can be driven by wholly different considerations. If your store happens to be called Jasmine Jewelry, for example, a fragrance incorporating jasmine should naturally be considered. Or maybe your brand’s particular story could play a role. Say your store buys the work of Native American designers from the Southwest, your fragrance could incorporate traditional Native American scents such as cedar or sage in a “brand-right” way that would likely be appreciated by educated consumers.

 What if you aren’t entirely sure about your store’s brand attributes? Interestingly, the very process of brainstorming about scent often has a side benefit of bringing the store’s most important differentiators into focus. In figuring out which scents are “us” and which ones are “not us,” you get a better idea of who you really are.

Naturally, you will also need to take your customers into account. What is the median age and gender? Selecting scents that appeal to your unique customer base will enhance their shopping experience and opinion of your store.

While nine times out of 10 the scenting provider will have off-the-shelf fragrances that suit your needs, some retailers choose to take the more expensive and time-consuming approach of working with their provider’s fragrance designer to create unique, signature scents from scratch. Here, the process of matching brand and scent attributes is similar, only the fragrance designer has an even more expansive palette to work with.


All of us prefer pleasant smelling places, and research has proven that we tend to associate scents with specific people, places, products and experiences. In other words, we form lasting impressions via the olfactory dimension. Ambient scenting represents an untapped opportunity for many in the jewelry business to better connect with customers. The key is to take an informed approach that matches brand attributes with the primal power of smell.

what does tradition smell like?

Some fragrances that work with 3 store types (and a magazine):


Store 1

Adjectives: Classic, traditional, luxurious, fine

Scents: Peace of Mind, Blue Wood, Soft Veil, Leather Smooth, Sensual Wood, Oudh Aura, African Amber

Description: Scents that create an air of sophistication and comfortable leisure are most suited for high-end jewelry stores.

Store 2

Adjectives: Modern, clean, exciting, youthful, vibrant

Scents: Lemongrass Ginger, Sparkling Fresh, Lemon Magnolia, Linen Breeze, White Tea Fusion, Bamboo Wood, Mint Energy

Description: These scents evoke energy and vibrancy, providing a light welcoming fragrance to the store atmosphere.

Store 3

Adjectives: Quirky, fun, service-oriented, progressive, friendly

Scents: Honeysuckle Jasmine, Lotus Flower, Magic Garden, Pomegranate Fusion, Green Tea, Marine Fresh, A Perfect Day

Description: This type of jewelry store would benefit from scents that are familiar, but that have a slight twist that keeps them fresh and fun while creating a comforting atmosphere.


Adjectives: Fun, collaborative, selfless, informative, progressive, light.

Scents: Lemongrass Ginger, White Tea Fusion, Cucumber Mint, Sparkling Fresh, Mandarin Zest, Pink Grapefruit

Description: Scents recommended for INSTORE would help enhance the vitality of the environment, providing additional energy, freshness and inspiration.

Roger Bensinger is executive vice president of scent-marketing and ambient-scenting firm Prolitec Inc. Contact him at [email protected].

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