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Sarah Nicholas Reveals Scent-Driven Recognition Tactic

When Sarah Nicholas, owner of Ladles & Linens with three stores in Virginia, began rebranding and putting her own stamp on the store (it was previously owned by Tina Miller for more than 20 years), she pulled out all the stops. Not only did she create a customer survey to help her better understand her clientele, but she also contracted research to ensure her mission is clear to customers.

While all three stores have a different customer base, Nicholas wanted to find a way to ensure that the brand was recognized no matter which location a consumer was visiting. She thought about creating the same playlist for all three stores — she plays Motown — but then concluded that it wouldn’t work. So, when she was given some information about scent recognition, she knew it was the right option for her.

“We are doing our own scent in each store,” Nicholas said. “I did a lot of research with people that are really into essential oils tied to moods and that’s what we decided to do.”

Nicholas said that she spoke to researchers, as well as friends, about what scents make them feel alert and happy. The result? She has developed a scent similar to bergamot that she will be distributing throughout all of the stores.

“Each store will have infusers that we are going to start infusing. Any of the stores you walk into — all three Ladles locations — will smell like bergamot,” she said.

She also noted that while this scent does make people feel the way she would like them to feel while browsing each of the stores, scent also lends itself to sensory recognition, allowing customers to think about the brand even while they aren’t in-store.

“When I started thinking about this, I thought about how I remember things. I remember scents really well and a lot of people do. So, we figured if every store smelled the same, when [a customer]is in the store it will smell like any of the other [Ladles] stores, but, more importantly, when [a customer]is not in the store and they smell bergamot, they may say, ‘That smells like Ladles,’ and then remember that they have to go buy a blender,” she said.

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