By John Stanley It is always a challenge for me to walk past the coffee shop in our local town. The aroma of those fresh coffee beans being grinded draws me to the store every time. I then have the challenge of passing our local bakery where that aroma gets to me again. My daughters rave about a company called ï¿½Duskï¿½ who have created a scented candle haven. ï¿½Lushï¿½ natural cosmetics have created a global retail brand and their stores can be identified by their aroma, well before you can see their distinctive logo. In his book, ï¿½Brand Senseï¿½, Martin Lindstrom identifies smell as one of the key ingredients of branding. A positive aroma is identified by 45% of the population as a point of reference when thinking of a store. Companies such as Jaguar cars have registered their specific aroma to ensure it remains unique. Whilst at Red Bull drinking parties the aroma is injected into the room before guests arrive. Aromas will become even more important in the future. The Encapsulated Aroma Release technology is about to hit the retail scene. Packaging for food and drink will be infused with the aroma of the product. ï¿½Scentsational Technologiesï¿½ have been working on the product development for the last five years and they are about to launch the concept onto the commercial market. The aim is to add natural aromas and to reduce additives. Scented labels for plants were on the market two decades ago. I was first introduced to the concept by the Victoria Tree and Shrub Growers group in Australia when they launched Boronia ï¿½Heaven Scentï¿½. As part of the launch the label had a scratch and sniff patch on it. A scratch and the pad exuded the scent of the Boronia. Very few growers took the concept up at that time, but perhaps it is time to re-look at the idea. Garden Centre Aroma Whilst some retailers are injecting large amounts of money in creating aromatic branding opportunities, the retail garden industry has them naturally, but in my opinion we do not exploit this gift from nature or build on the retail opportunities. A garden centre that takes ï¿½aromaï¿½ seriously and incorporates it into its brand strategy would gain momentum over the centres that leave it to chance. We should look at smells and aromas more strategically and build on what nature has provided for free. The following aroma brand strategy may make a difference to the bottom-line. Even if it doesnï¿½t, at least it is another tactic to ensure you are ï¿½top of mindï¿½ in the consumers mind. Aroma Strategy Only use natural aromas. Some manufactured aromas can cause health problems. Ban obnoxious smelling products from the first third of the store, i.e. Garden Chemicals. Make sure that the room is well ventilated where you position them. Display seasonal high scent plants when in flower near the entrance to the garden centre. Introduce ï¿½Smell meï¿½ labels into your plant area when scented flowers are in bloom. Encourage the team to get customers to smell the leaves of aromatic plants. Even if the smell is obnoxious, it is still part of the experience. Yes, use the smell of coffee if you have a coffee shop, it does work. Place scented products at the checkout counter. It will encourage conversation at this ï¿½touchï¿½ point. Have competitions with customers, get them to list their ten favourite garden aromas and ten most disliked garden smells. Use this as a fun promotion. Encourage children to ï¿½smell the flowersï¿½. My youngest daughter always remembers our local garden centre. As a toddler they always gave her a flower to smell when we visited the centre. Get the team to tell stories around the history of smells i.e. Natures aphrodisiacs, Plants that stink to attract pollinators. Customers enjoy buying from story tellers. Create an ï¿½Aroma plantï¿½ category as a seasonal feature in the garden centre and advise customers how to group scented plants. Why not network with a local perfume or aromatherapy retailer and have an ï¿½aromaï¿½ weekend at the garden centre. Between the different retailers you could offer a wide range of perfumery products.