First Person: Keeping My Nose Out of Businesses Saves Me Money

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I typically spend much less money by shopping online rather than visiting the mall because I'm just not as tempted. The only exception is around Christmas time when I "click, click, click" my way to a higher credit card balance. New research suggests customers are more likely to spend money in stores scented with citrus and pine. It makes me wonder whether it's the pine-fresh scent of my Christmas tree in my living room that gets me in the online shopping mood.

Mixing up the mind

According to an article in the NYDailyNews, researchers with Washington State University College of Business surveyed shoppers who visited in stores scented with either a basic orange scent, a more complex blended scent of green tea, basil and orange or no scent. Incredibly, the people who visited the store with the simple orange scent spent 20 percent more. Evidently complex combinations or smells distract the brain so people don't make as many purchases.

Making a customer linger

Just as retailers play certain kinds of music to lure customers into lingering longer, they also infuse the room with different scents. According to an article by CNN, it's called "scent marketing." I've noticed when I eat at Panera Bread, the relaxing music motivates me to sit longer. Oftentimes, my friend or I return to purchased coffee or baked goods to go. Of course, the fresh smell of coffee and baked bread also increases the odds I'll purchase more.

Using scents to relief work stress

One luxury watch maker in Hong Kong is using a special green tea sent in all of its stores. In addition to increasing sales, it also lowers stress for the sales people. Of course, the motivation of using the green tea scent is to create a pleasant association with the watch or the brand. In my own life, I use various scents to help me relax when working. My No. 1 go-to scent when I'm experiencing work stress is lavender.

Crossing the ethical line

Although I don't mind retailers making their businesses smell nice, I do think it occasionally crosses the line. I think it's wrong to use subliminal messages in advertising to motivate people to make unhealthy choices. Likewise, I've heard of fast food restaurants trying to lure customers in by releasing actual perfume versions of their products such the scent of cinnamon and apple to motivate people to buy their baked apple pies.

Since I can't stay out of all the restaurants and retail stores, I try to overcome the temptation to overspend by sticking to a list, or at least, a budget. I make up my mind what I'm going to order or purchase ahead of time. I also have a rule that I won't make any impulsive purchasing decisions. I walk away and think about a purchase before slapping down my credit card. Once I'm away from the bubble-gum scent of the clothing store, I make more grown-up and conscious decisions about what I need to buy and what I need to leave on the shelves.

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More from this contributor:

Sad Truth of Why I Overspend

Controlling Impulse to Buy

Boycotting Black Friday

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