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Scent marketing: linking the scent congruence with brand image

Karim Errajaa (Paris School of Business, Paris, France)
Patrick Legohérel (GRANEM – ESTHUA, University of Angers – Granem, Angers, France)
Bruno Daucé (GRANEM – IAE Angers, University of Angers, Angers, France)
Anil Bilgihan (Department of Marketing, College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 21 January 2021

Issue publication date: 15 March 2021

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Abstract

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). It would 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).

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the managers of the AntiCafé and Scentys companies for their cooperation and assistance for the realisation of the experimental study.

Citation

Errajaa, K., Legohérel, P., Daucé, B. and Bilgihan, A. (2021), "Scent marketing: linking the scent congruence with brand image", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 402-427. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-06-2020-0637

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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