From the Store to the Kitchen: Herbal Scents Drive Wholesome Food Choice

Phillips, Megan
Kapitan, Sommer
Rush, Elaine
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Journal Article
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As retail adopts more use of scent to sell, this paper explores whether an herbal scent can be used to prime wholesome food choices. The results of two laboratory experiments (physical and online) and one field experiment show that the presence of an herbal scent (vs. non-herbal or no scent) – specifically a mixed herb odor – increases selection and purchase of wholesome foods. This is due to semantic associations created through repeated exposure to the smell of culinary herbs widely employed in global cuisines and everyday home cooking. Specifically, exposure to herbs (vs. no scent) activates associations to cooking and home-cooked meals, which in turn motivates consumers to select more wholesome ingredients to create a meal at home. The results of this research extend findings in olfactory congruence in marketing and ambient scents in retail to enhance understanding of the role of retail atmospherics in influencing food choice and sales. This research provides further implications of scent in retail settings for consumer health and well-being.

1503 Business and Management , 1505 Marketing , 1506 Tourism , Marketing , 3504 Commercial services , 3507 Strategy, management and organisational behaviour , 3509 Transportation, logistics and supply chains
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, ISSN: 0969-6989 (Print); 1873-1384 (Online), Elsevier, 81, 103959-103959. doi: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2024.103959
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© 2024 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (