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How Chocolate Could Help Keep Booksellers In Business

A Belgian business participated in a 10-day experiment in which researchers dispersed the scent of chocolate throughout the store at different times. Not surprisingly, customers lingered longer, and certain genres saw increased sales.

What’s the Latest Development?

A recent Journal of Environmental Psychology paper describes a 10-day experiment conducted in a Belgian bookstore by researchers from Hasselt University. For half of the business day — either morning or afternoon — the scent of chocolate was dispersed throughout the store from two different locations. By tracking the actions of certain customers, the team discovered that they “were 2.22 times more likely to closely examine multiple books when the chocolate scent was present in the store.” Not surprisingly, sales of romance novels and books about food rose by 40 percent when chocolate was in the air. However, sales of history books and mysteries also went up, by 22 percent.

What’s the Big Idea?

For tracking book sales, the team chose genres that they felt were congruent or incongruent with the scent of chocolate, and in fact, customers were more likely to check out the mystery and history sections when there was no chocolate scent. However, sales still went up during chocolate time because “those who did peruse the mystery or history aisles were more likely to buy multiple volumes.” In their paper, the team recommends that retailers experiment with using ambient scents, focusing on those that “go with” their merchandise.

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Read it at Pacific Standard


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