What Does Your Product Smell Like?

by drjim on February 23, 2015

Do your customers like the way that your product smells?

Do your customers like the way that your product smells?
Image Credit: Angélica Portales

As product managers we are always thinking of ways to make our product more appealing to our customers. We all have long lists of features that we just know that once they are implemented; our product will become irresistible to our customers. However, there is a good chance that we may be overlooking something. Is it possible that how our product smells could play a big role in how willing our customers are to buy our product?

The Role That Scent Plays In Attracting Attention

As we all learned in school, humans have 6 different senses. Product managers spend a great deal of time trying to make their products appeal to the visual sense when we put together product brochures and ads. What we may have been overlooking is addingthe powerful appeal of the sense of smell to our product development definition.

This all comes down to what kind of product you are responsible for. However, I’m pretty sure that just about any product could benefit from being associated with a positive scent. The goal of creating a scent that customers would associated with your product would be to first draw them in to find out more about your product and then to cause them to either purchase it or perhaps purchase more of it. Get this right and you’ll have something else to add to your product manager resume.

As of right now there is no firm research that shows that having a scent associated with your product will drive more sales. However, marketing professionals are starting to get excited about the ideal of scent marketing. They view scent as being one more way to reach a customer along with more traditional marketing tools such as lighting and design.

The Challenges Of Managing Your Product’s Scent

If you decide that associating your product with a scent just might boost your sales, then there are a number of different things that you will need to become aware of. The first of these is that we all react differently to different scents. What this means for you is that what may smell sweet to one person may smell terrible to another person.

Another thing that you are going to have to be aware of is just how strong you allow your product’s scent to be. You are going to want to accomplish two tasks with your product’s scent. The first is that you are going to want it to be strong enough to be noticed by your customer – if they can’t smell it, then it won’t be doing you any good. Next, you need to realize that your product will be existing in an environment with other products. We can’t control where our scent goes and so we’re going to have to be extra careful to make sure that our scent does not offend or overpower other products or people.

The people who research scents tell us that the best scents are the ones that are subtle. The scents that potential customers find to be the most pleasing include sweet smells such as brown sugar and apple. Depending on exactly what your product is, you might also want to try tea-derived aromas or cinnamon scents.

What All Of This Means For You

Even to product managers, what makes a customer want to buy a product remains a bit of a mystery. For some products, what a customer smells when they are considering making a purchase may play a role. No, this is not yet a part of your product manager job description, but it just might soon be!

The challenge of creating just the right scent to associate with your product is that what smells good to one person, might be offensive to another. Additionally, if you decide to associate a sent with your product, then you are going to have to make sure that it’s strong enough to be noticed but not so strong that it repulses. You’ll have to be careful to manage your product’s scent. You don’t want it to conflict with other scents or to extend too far away and cause conflicts with other products.

Product managers are always looking for new ways to make our products be even more attractive to our potential customers. When we think about it, every one of our customers has a nose and associating a scent with our product can be a powerful way to remind our customers about our product and maybe even get them to decide to purchase it. Give the idea of creating a signature scent for your product a thought and let your nose lead you to a boost in sales!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should associate a food smell with your prouduct?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

How would you like to have the job of being a product manager at a wireless service provider? Admittedly, it would be an exciting job. Wireless services bring in a great deal of money so there would be no questions about your product being a success, the real question would be what could you do to your product development definition to make it more of a success? Over at AT&T wireless the product managers appear to be successful because they are adding more and more customers. However, are they really going about this in the right way?

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