Smelling Success: The Power of Scent Marketing in Golf Retail

Written by Katelyn Madsen

Have you ever walked into a room and been instantly transported to a cherished memory by a familiar scent? The heavenly aroma of grandma’s freshly baked cookies or the salty smell of a beach vacation drifting through the air? Whatever the case, our sense of smell has a profound ability to evoke emotions and create lasting impressions.

This very power of scent is something that has been harnessed by businesses worldwide in the form of scent marketing. Also known as olfactory marketing, scent marketing taps into our natural physiology to influence emotions, memories, and ultimately, consumer behavior. 


How Smell Works

Smell is perceived by olfactory receptors that, when stimulated by an odorant, send electrical signals to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system which is the emotional center of the brain, and is closely connected to structures that influence behavior, mood, and memory. It decodes these odorant patterns as different smells, and associates them  with people, places, or things dependent on what was around when the scent was first perceived. When we encounter that smell again, it can instantly transport us back in time, evoking memories and emotions. 

Smells can also work on a subconscious level, influencing our mood and behavior without us even realizing it. The scent of the ocean, for instance, might not just remind you of a beach vacation, but also evoke feelings of contentment or joy. This powerful link between scent and emotion is what scent marketing harnesses to create memorable and impactful experiences for consumers.

Olfactory System


How Scent Marketing Works

Positive Atmosphere: 

The right scent can create a welcoming and relaxing environment, encouraging customers to linger longer and explore your offerings. It can also help mask any unpleasant odors, ensuring a positive overall experience.

Emotional Connection: 

Fragrances have a direct link to our emotions and memories. Studies have shown that emotionally connected customers are 52% more valuable to a brand than those who are merely satisfied. Scent marketing taps into this emotional connection, forging a deeper bond between the customer and the brand.

Enhanced Product Perception:

In one study, two identical pairs of shoes were placed in two identical rooms. One room was scented with a floral fragrance and the other was not. By an 84% margin, customers preferred the shoes in the scented room, and estimated their value to be on average $10.33 higher than the identical shoes in the unscented room. This result displays the great power that smell has on customers in a retail space. 

Amplify Brand Recall: 

A unique and pleasant scent can become synonymous with your brand, making it more memorable and recognizable. Customers are more likely to remember a store or product that is associated with a signature scent. For example, if your pro shop smells faintly of bergamot, whenever the customer smells bergamot elsewhere, they will be more likely to get an urge to buy a new golf club. This creates an emotional bond between your shop and its customers which builds loyalty over time. 

Increased Sales: 

Studies have shown that scent marketing increases retail store sales by up to 11% and increases customer satisfaction scores by an average of 20%. In addition, customers tend to spend more time in a store and make more purchases when they are surrounded by a pleasant aroma.


Scent Marketing Examples

So who actually uses scent marketing? You may be surprised to know that it is more common than you think. 

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is one of the most notable examples, as they have been using scent marketing for over 30 years. Their patented floral and citrus scent, Stefan Floridian Waters, is used to scent their hot towels to calm anxiety and promote a peaceful journey.

Marriott Attune reed diffuser

Hyatt Place and Marriott Hotels

Hyatt Place hotels has a signature scent called “Seamless,” featuring a blend of blueberries and light florals on a base of warm vanilla with hints of musk, designed to create a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere for guests.

Hyatt Place’s competitor, Marriott Hotels, uses a signature scent called “Attune,” featuring notes of black currant, citrus, apple, jasmine, white cedar, and sage throughout their establishments. Interestingly, each product offered on their website shows a different combination of mostly these scents, depending on the application (room spray, reed diffuser, room diffuser, candle, etc). This is a good indication that changing things up a bit still fits within their signature scent profile.

Starbucks pour over


While the aroma of brewing coffee is already enticing, Starbucks goes a step further by intentionally releasing a coffee scent in their stores. This strategic move masks the scent of food and odors while promoting a desire for their drinks.

Disney Parks

If you’ve ever visited a Disney theme park, you’ve likely experienced the subtle magic of scent marketing firsthand. From the salty sea air of Pirates of the Caribbean to the citrusy sweetness of Soarin’ orange groves, these scents aren’t just random; they’re meticulously crafted to enhance the overall experience and create a sense of nostalgia and wonder.

Movie theater popcorn

Movie Theaters

Most movie theaters use scent marketing as well. When you walk into a movie theater, you will most likely smell popcorn. This scent is often spread throughout the theater space in order to make people yearn for the buttery treat, leading them to the snack station to oftentimes indulge in more than just popcorn.


Choose the Right Scent: 

The scent you choose should align with your brand identity and the emotions you want to evoke. Think of it like wearing perfume or cologne; you want to feel good, while drawing people in. To implement scents in your store, aim for something simple so you don’t overwhelm the processing center of the customer’s brain. The goal is to appeal to and draw in your target audience. 

  • Everyday Examples:

    • Subtle, Fresh, and Clean: Fresh scents such as green and white tea, lemongrass, fig, and citrus create a calming, yet sophisticated environment that encourages customers to linger and spend more.
    • Relaxing and Inviting: Scents like lavender, basil, sandalwood, and cinnamon help induce a relaxing shopping experience. 
    • Clean and Light: To evoke feelings of cleanliness and springtime, linen or cotton scents are great choices.
  • Signature Scent:

    • Create Your Own: Develop a unique signature scent to use throughout the shop. Consider unisex combinations such as lime, vanilla, lemongrass, lemon, mandarin, and eucalyptus to appeal to a wide range of customers.
  • Other Scents: 

    • Invigorating & Energizing: To create an upbeat atmosphere, especially during promotions and events, consider scents like peppermint, citrus, and herbs such as thyme and rosemary.
    • Positive & Happy: Ginger, cardamom, and licorice can evoke feelings of positivity and happiness.
    • Romantic: A chocolate scent can stir romantic feelings, making it ideal for Valentine’s Day promotions.
    • Sophisticated & Masculine: For a high-end, masculine appeal, try a leather scent.
    • Warm & Festive: During the Christmas season, opt for a pleasant scent like vanilla blended with cinnamon, clove, and/or fir.


What to use:

Essential oil diffusers and room sprays are oftentimes enough for smaller shops; however, air vent scent machines may work best for larger locations. Though candles create a warm atmosphere, we do not recommend their use to fill a room with fragrance, as they are costly and a potential fire hazard.

Essential oil diffuser


Tips on How to Implement Scent Marketing


Don’t be afraid to experiment with different scents and see which ones resonate best with your customers. Consider conducting surveys or gathering feedback to gauge their preferences. Be sure to listen and take note of what customers say while browsing the store.

Keep it Consistent: 

Use a consistent scent that can create an immediate association with your store.

Keep it Real:

Steer clear of artificial-smelling scents. Not only do they typically smell less inviting, but they also decrease positive brand perception by smelling cheaper and less luxurious. As a business owner, you want your customers to trust you implicitly. If that trust is lessened by a scent that smells artificial, that can create a negative association. 

Make it Subtle:

Be sure that you don’t release so much fragrance at a time that it creates a wall of aroma when a person walks into the store. The goal is for it to be subtle, as you don’t want your customers to consciously notice the smell and be distracted away from your products.

Housekeeping Tip:

Before introducing any scents, give your store a thorough cleaning and disinfection to make sure the added scents aren’t just masking others that are present. Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals that could overpower or clash with your chosen fragrance. 

Be Aware:

Artificial fragrances can trigger headaches or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. It is best to stick with hypoallergenic scents such as essential oils. Keeping it subtle will also help to reduce any sensitivities.



In a world so heavily saturated with visual and auditory marketing, captivating customers’ senses through a less explored avenue could be the key to expanding your reach.

Scent marketing is a powerful tool that can elevate your brand and create a memorable experience for your customers. By harnessing the power of scent, you can create a positive and welcoming atmosphere, forge deeper connections with your customers, and enhance product perception and brand recall, all while driving sales.

If you’re looking for a way to set your brand apart and create a lasting impression, consider incorporating scent marketing into your overall strategy. It might just be the secret ingredient your pro shop needs to thrive!

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