The Null Device

Coercive atmospherics

The latest buzzword in marketing is coercive atmospherics; i.e., using subtle scent cues to trigger positive emotional reactions in consumers:
THE AIR in Samsung's flagship electronics store on the upper west side of Manhattan smells like honeydew melon. It is barely perceptible but, together with the soft, constantly morphing light scheme, the scent gives the store a blissfully relaxed, tropical feel. The fragrance I'm sniffing is the company's signature scent and is being pumped out from hidden devices in the ceiling. Consumers roam the showroom unaware that they are being seduced not just via their eyes and ears but also by their noses
Westin and Samsung are not alone in using scent to tap into consumers' psyches. Diamond retailer De Beers scents its sparkling Manhattan and Los Angeles showrooms with an aromatic blend that includes floral, citrus and green tea; cellphone company Verizon Wireless recently used chocolate-scented displays to market the new LG Chocolate phone; and Sony is raising the stakes by not only scenting its Sony Style stores but also sending its signature scent home in scented sachets in shopping bags. Sony is also considering impregnating the hard plastics used in its gadgets with the fragrance, says David Van Epps, CEO of North Carolina-based ScentAir, developer of Sony's signature scent.

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