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How Cinnabon Strategically Seduces Hungry Shoppers With Insanely Delicious Smells

How do you convince potential customers to spend money on sugar- and calorie-laden pastries against their better judgment? Go for the nose.

How Cinnabon Strategically Seduces Hungry Shoppers With Insanely Delicious Smells

[Image: Flickr user Ramoza5]

Suburban mall conquistadors Cinnabon know a thing or two about wafting delicious smells through the air to attract hungry shoppers. With more than 50,000 global points of distribution (stores is somehow too grand here) tallying some $1 billion annually, for the company, snagging potential customers by their noses has become an artful bit of social engineering.

As The Wall Street Journal revealed on Wednesday, scent marketing is a very real part of the pastry seller's business strategy. According to Cinnabon president Kat Cole, the chain purposefully positions its ovens near the front of stores so that the scent disperses whenever the oven doors are opened. (Which, naturally, is quite frequently.) Per the Journal:

The bakeries are intentionally located in malls or airports, not outside, so smells can linger. Over time, the company has recognized that aroma is a huge part of its formula, Ms. Cole says. Putting ovens in the back of stores at a test location "significantly" lowered sales, she says.

In fact, cinnamon rolls are required to be baked at least every 30 minutes. And, in a tricky feat of resourcefulness, a few store operators "heat additional sheets of brown sugar and cinnamon to keep the aroma in the air."

Cinnabon is far from the only brand fishing for consumer dollars with tempting smells. Last fall, PepsiCo was found to have patented an "aroma delivery system" for a container engineered to release favorable-scented compounds designed to make its customers feel fuzzies. Sometimes the nose just knows what it wants. And, increasingly, brands know what your nose wants too.