Scent Marketing Japanese style

Baking bread when you are selling a home, or apple pie (yumm), has been shown to have a positive effect on the way people perceive the house and actually increases the probability they will place an offer. When you walk into a bakery and it smells oh so delicious everything taste better. Have you not noticed the smell is always exactly the same regardless the time you step in? How can this be when the baker sells all these different kind of products? He is definitely not constantly baking the same… that’s right, it is fake. Just like the smell in ZARA, the Aston Martin showroom and many other stores, companies do this to generate a positive association in our brain and create a sense of recognition. Smell is more sophisticated than any other sense as scent receptors in the nose connect directly to the section of the brain responsible for memory and emotion. How could this be used in today’s digital world?

The answer comes from Japan. A team from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have invented a ‘smelling screen’ that creates smells from certain spots. This would enable marketers to make adverts more appealing and moviemakers can engage their audiences even more. The invention is ‘a new olfactory display that can generate a localised odour distribution on a two-dimensional display screen,’ according to the researchers. It works by providing odours from gel pellets into four air streams, located in each corner of the screen, which are blown across the displays surface. Using fans the scent can be moved to any particular spot on the screen, giving the impression that it is arising from the digital object displayed. Now the system can only produce one smell at a time, but the researchers say the next phase is to include a cartridge that allows the screen to change the smells more easily.

This technology was recently demonstrated in Florida and the prospects are promising. For now however this still remains a bit Sci-Fi. This being said, next time you step into a bakery and it smells good remember… it’s not the bread.

Gayle, D (2013) ‘’Real smell-o-vision TV unveiled by Japanese team (and it’s NOT an April Fool)’’, 1 April 2013 Available at: [accessed 8 october 2014]


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