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Hardware and Sausages
19 April 2011

BBQ Sausages at BunningsDarrel Lea

Hardware and Sausages

Inventing new aromas for brands has the advantage of exclusivity. Lush is inextricably linked with its aroma - in fact, if you couldn’t smell one when you walked past it you’d wonder whether or not you had a cold.

I was riding my bike through Belrose this morning when an odd thing happened. I smelled sausages. I didn’t suddenly think “time for breakfast,” I thought “Bunnings”. And sure enough, I realised I was approaching one.

Our sense of smell is well known to be strongly linked to memory - particularly emotional memory. For example, the smell of cinnamon punch might give you a vivid flashback to a winter visit to the US.

Smart retailers have exploited this for some time. Some retailers, like Abercrombie & Fitch, invent a fragrance that becomes associated with the brand. “Packed with confidence and a bold, masculine attitude,” they expound. “Fierce is not just a cologne, it's a lifestyle.” Anyone who has been in a store will know that it is hosed liberally on to everything in sight.

Inventing new aromas for brands has the advantage of exclusivity. Lush is inextricably linked with its aroma - in fact, if you couldn’t smell one when you walked past it you’d wonder whether or not you had a cold.

There are problems with inventing new aromas. Firstly you have to have to educate shoppers that it’s actually your aroma. Then, although it acts as a mnemonic, the aroma itself has no particular emotional connection to the customer. And some customers may even dislike it.

The safer way to use aromas is to use familiar scents that have a common emotional connection, particularly to childhood memories- like the smell of fresh baked cookies, for example. It’s no secret that cookie companies in shopping malls pump the smell of fresh baked cookies into the mall. Chocolatier Darrell Lea is well known for the smell of licorice in their stores.

The smell of sizzling sausages is a great example of a familiar scent linked to happy childhood memories. And now Bunnings owns the smell of sausages - a pretty clever feat for a hardware store. But think about it. Every time that Bunnings customer passes a sausage sizzle, be it at a backyard barbeque or lining up to vote in an election, Bunnings will be somewhere in the list of memories that smell conjures up.

Bunnings sells neither the sausage nor the sizzle - but the activity is totally on-brand for them, as it benefits local community groups. But by regular and consistent staging of the sausage sizzle, they have added another tool to the brand toolkit- and one that, while at first glance might seem like an odd fit, makes perfect sense.

Let’s see what the new Woolworth’s hardware concept offers in terms of olfactory branding. If they too have a sausage sizzle, there’s a fair chance they could be advertising their competitors.

* Gary McCartney owner of McCartney Design and a regular contributor to Inside Retailing. You can reach him at gary@mccartneydesign.com.au

19 April 2011
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