The Cool Scent of Power: Effects of Ambient Scent on Consumer Preferences and Choice Behavior

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Abstract:
The present research examines how ambient scents affect consumers’ spatial perceptions in retail environments, which in turn influence customers’ feelings of power and, thus, product preference and purchasing behavior. Specifically, the authors demonstrate that in a warm- (vs. cool-) scented and thus perceptually more (vs. less) socially dense environment, people experience a greater (vs. lesser) need for power, which manifests in increased preference for and purchase of premium products and brands. This research extends knowledge on store atmospherics and customer experience management through the effects of ambient scent on spatial perceptions and builds on recent research on power in choice contexts.