A chain of supermarkets in Brooklyn and Staten Island has started piping in food scents to their stores in an effort to subliminally encourage customers to buy stuff. Scents you might smell in NetCost Market include “Lindt Chocolate,” “Smoky Bacon,” and “Rosemary Focaccia.” A shopper in Sheepshead Bay told the Post, “It made me really hungry all of a sudden!” Well, yes, that’s the idea.
The scents and apparatus for delivering them are provided by a company based in Charlotte called ScentAir. According to their website, the scent system was developed by a former Lockheed Martin rocket scientist turned Walt Disney “Imagineer.” As per their “Scent Science” section:
We’ve helped our clients create special environments (like the Rocky Mountains in the middle of an Orlando, FL summer), fix problems (like making a greasy restaurant smell fresh and clean), sample fragrances (by wafting custom scents for patrons to enjoy and purchase), and sell more product…from coffee to clothes and speakers to shoes.
We draw people in. We make them want to stay awhile. We make them want to come back.
It’s all very Orwellian. And how exactly do they claim to be able to sell speakers via scent control? And how is it a good thing to make a gross restaurant smell fresh and clean without fixing the very things that once made it smell gross? I smell (ugh, sorry) a health violation.
At NetCost, the scent shilling is apparently working. The chain’s merchandise coordinator told the Post that fruit sales had gone up as much as seven or eight percent.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 16, 2011