The Influences of Verbal Smell References in Radio Advertisements

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In an industry plagued by high failure rates and exorbitant amounts spent on marketing, restaurants must find ways to increase the effectiveness of their advertising. The purpose of this study is to explore how verbal smell references in restaurants’ radio advertisements (e.g., “You can almost smell the smoky and delicious aroma of your steak grilling to perfection”) affect consumers’ perceived ability to “almost taste” and “almost smell” the advertised product, affective response, and purchase intentions. In a between-subjects experiment conducted on undergraduate students, this research finds that a verbal smell reference in a radio ad significantly influences a potential consumer’s ability to almost smell and almost taste the advertised product. The smell reference also significantly affects individuals’ affective responses to the ad and purchase intent for the product. Interestingly, this research also finds that the level of “brand excitement” associated with the advertised brand perfectly mediates the relationship between the verbal smell reference and affective responses. From a managerial perspective, these results seem to indicate that verbal smell descriptions in restaurant radio ads can be associated with a number of desirable outcomes.