Abstract

Scent research has focused primarily on the effects of ambient scent on consumer evaluations. We focus instead on the effects of product scent on consumer memories. For instance, if a pencil or a facial tissue is imbued with scent (vs. not), recall for the brand's other attributes increases significantly—with the effects lasting as much as 2 weeks after exposure. We also find that product scent is more effective than ambient scent at enhancing memory for product information. We suggest that this may be because, with product (ambient) scent, scent-related associations are focused on a single object (are diffused across multiple objects) in the environment. In support, we find that the memory effects are driven by the number of product/scent-related associations stored in long-term memory. The results suggest that, although ambient scent has received the bulk of attention from researchers and managers in recent years, greater focus on product scent is warranted.

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