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Study by Belgian researchers

The smell of chocolate boosts book sales


The smell of chocolate boosts book sales, according to a study by Belgian researchers published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

The aims of this research was to explore the different effects of an ambient scent of chocolate on general approach versus goal-directed behavior, and investigate whether an ambient chocolate scent diffused in a retail environment has a positive effect on consumers´ behavior toward thematically congruent products.

A field study with 201 participants shows that a chocolate scent positively influences general approach behavior and negatively influences goal-directed behavior in a bookstore. Moreover, when gender is controlled for, the chocolate scent improves approach and buying behavior toward thematically congruent books and decreases approach and buying behavior toward incongruent books. Sales figures also provide some indicative support for the findings.

The researchers, led by Lieve Douce of Belgium´s Hasselt University, spent 10 days observing customers in a Belgian bookstore. For part of each day, a subtle chocolate scent was released into the air.

Customers were 40 percent more likely to buy romance novels and cookbooks, and about 22 percent more likely to buy books in other genres when the chocolate scent was present. Customers also spent more time browsing, researchers found. Pleasant smells have long been known to trigger spending: A 2008 study concluded that the smell of chocolate chip cookies made women more likely to make impulse purchases.

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