The Simple (And Complex) Effects of Scent on Retail Shoppers: Processing Fluency and Ambient Olfactory Stimuli

Friederike Haberland , University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
David Sprott , Washington State University, USA
Jan R. Landwehr, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Andreas Herrmann, Eric R. Spangenberg, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland; Washington State University, Pullman, USA
Although ambient scents within a retail store have been demonstrated to influence shoppers, extant research has not provided an adequate theoretical explanation for observed effects. The current research addresses this issue by exploring the role of processing fluency in olfactory cue effects. Across two field experiments and in support of a fluency explanation, we demonstrate that scent complexity impacts shoppers’ response to a scented retailer. In comparison to a control condition, simple or more fluent scents led to positive customer responses (including increased spending), while more complex scents had no effect on shoppers. Results also indicate that affective responses to the environment mediate observed effects. Implications for theory and practice are provided.
[ to cite ]:
Friederike Haberland , David Sprott , Jan R. Landwehr, and Andreas Herrmann, Eric R. Spangenberg (2010) ,"The Simple (And Complex) Effects of Scent on Retail Shoppers: Processing Fluency and Ambient Olfactory Stimuli", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 638-639 .