The Scent of Shopper Insights

Tracy’s Smell Diary

Recently I had the unique opportunity to transform the Shopper Insights conference space that was held 

from July 11th to the 14th, in Chicago, into a sensory experience.

USA brands (mainly) calibrated together to discuss the shopper. Presentations focused on the global consumer and how this recession has caused all of us to change the way we buy: understanding this behaviour was the purpose of the event. As the keynote opening the event I was excited to discuss how scent compliments the consumers sensory experience. I presented differently—for my client IIR (Institute for International Research)—who hosted the event hired me to create a brand scent for the event. My goal was to stimulate the audience and have them experience the sights, smells, tastes, sounds, touches and feelings of Shopper Insights.

The audience was mixed with professionals from food and beverage:

  • CPG 48%
  • Advertising, Marketing, Research 30%
  • Retail 8%
  • Pharmaceutical 6%
  • Consumer Electronics 3%
  • Healthcare 1%

The individual job functions were also mixed:

  • Insights/Research 42%
  • Business development 32%
  • Marketing 16%
  • Category Management 8%
  • Sales 2%
  • Strategy 1%

The combination and differences of the group made the aroma somewhat challenging.

The sensory theme was based on three key elements

  1. Natural – green – earth
  2. Function – we know scent has an impact on our minds – increases ones ability to be stimulated – alert
  3. Creative – easily memorable – connection to food

The room was scented with 3 large dry diffused scented banners positioned on stands throughout the room. IIR’s logo was captured on banner. We began the sensory experience with a special aroma that was infused in cold wet towels. These towels were passed around to touch, experience and refresh. As I spoke about scent, the impacts, and research, we than continued to experience candy mints for tasting. The event continued, more information and more senses, I had sounds of water fill the space and than finally the fragrance was officially revealed. (All of this was taking place with two large screens filled with visuals – photos that captured the presentation). Institute for International Research signature aroma started with notes of Cool Juniper and Frosted Fir combined with Middle notes of Pine Cone and Base notes of Blue Spruce. The overall blend, cool, refreshing with a clean air experience.

In the end the audience was in a trance, of amazement that is. (I personally think many of us have forgotten what it is like to be the consumer and so to experience something from all five senses, it would of been powerful.) I have had many positive comments and if you are interested in photos, please go to my Facebook page. I am hoping to upload the event on Youtube this fall.

Shopper Insights was powerful for me, it was the first time live I put all of the five senses together for the purpose of learning abut scent. Will the sensory change anything—YES—I know they will not forget the event—too many sensory “touchtones” as reference. BUT I can say this from my experience—I am not sure what our governments, politicians or leaders are doing to improve our economy BUT I do know the brands and individuals at the event, are ready to roll up their sleeves, work and focus to push this recession out of our global economic reality. I was thrilled and the scent of the event will be something I treasure—great minds working together!

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