FCW Consulting Times

Smell and Persuasion

Posted by: ~ May 31, 2012 ~ 0 comments

Remember that up to 95% of all persuasion and influence involves a subconscious trigger.  That is a feeling that is generated when you attempt to influence your prospect.

What is the answer to the following Persuasion IQ question?

Which of the following can affect the persuasion process?

a)     Color
b)     Smell
c)     Moods
d)     Appearance
e)     All of the above

I know this question is on the difficult side, but I wanted you to understand the importance of subconscious triggers.  The answer to today’s question is E.  Every single answer creates a subconscious trigger or feeling about you or your product.  Can you believe a simple thing like smell can attract or repel your prospect?

Let’s focus on smell.  Our olfactory (smell) system can take us back 20 years on a single aroma.  It is wired directly into the center of our brain and does affect our ability to persuade and influence.  In fact, what happens when you smell pool chlorine, the beach or even potpourri?   These smells or aromas can create an instant subconscious trigger for you or anyone you meet.  Dr. Alan Hirsh said, “Research is now making strides to discover and manufacture odors that can be used… to control the consumer’s emotions and thought processes.”


Aromas are commonly used as a persuasion device.   We know that our sense of smell can evoke memories quicker and more intensely than any other method.   We see many examples of the use of aromas to create the proper atmosphere.   Victoria’s Secret uses potpourri scents to augment their customer’s feelings of femininity.   Pizza stores use the smell of freshly baked pizza.  Car dealers use the new car smell even on used cars.  British Airways pumps an aroma called “Meadow Grass” into the air of its business lounges to make customers feel more at ease.

In the Kajima Cooperation in Japan, management uses aromas to increase productivity throughout the day.  Their formula is citrus in the morning, for its rousing effects, floral scents in the afternoon, to encourage concentration, and woodland scents before lunch and at the end of the day, to help relax employees.  One study showed that people were more than twice as likely to provide a stranger with change for a dollar when they were within smelling range of a Cinnabon store.  The right smells can make a complete atmosphere.

Atmosphere can also include the tension in the air.  Is there a rush, or are customers relaxed?  What type of climate are you trying to create?  Do you want a quick, fast decision, or do you want your customers to feel comfortable enough to stay for a while?  A few interesting studies found what happens when you create the right aroma.  The aroma of cleaning liquids (ie Windex, citrus-scented spray etc.) caused prospects to clean up after themselves, be more generous and become more honest.

The key to understand from today’s newsletter is colors, moods, music and smell all trigger different feelings in your prospect.  This is one of the twelve Laws of Persuasion called the Law of Association.  Your goal is to make sure these subconscious triggers are attracting and not repelling your prospect.

Kurt Mortensen

Persuade with Power