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The Power of Chocolate

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For years, retailers have relied on the scent of cinnamon to build an emotional connection with shoppers, especially during the all-important fourth quarter selling season. New research finds that when it comes to bookstores, the scent of chocolate appears to trump cinnamon as a powerful factor in keeping shoppers browsing longer and inspecting more merchandise.

The Journal of Environmental Psychology revealed the findings of a study conducted by researchers in Belgium who monitored the behavior of bookstore shoppers with and without a subtle chocolate aroma. When the scent was present, shoppers were more than twice as likely to examine multiple items and read synopses for multiple books. In addition, the scent of chocolate wafting though the bookstore resulted in shoppers being nearly three times as likely to interact with store staff -- and less than half as likely to seek out one item and go directly to the register.

The researchers also reported that items “congruent” with the aroma of chocolate, such as food-oriented and romance novels, benefitted from the chocolate bouquet, especially among women. The study stopped short of linking the scent to a positive effect on sales, noting that the data was insufficient to draw a conclusion.

While lifting the bottom line is imperative, creating an environment that is perceived to be pleasant and inviting is more important than ever today. And if infusing a scent or playing a certain style of music encourages shoppers to linger longer, why not give it a try?