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The purpose of this study is to examine the role of scent congruence with the brand image in the formation of consumers’ reactions to the atmosphere of a place.Design/methodology/approachUsing a factorial design (i.e. scent congruent with the brand image, scent not congruent and control), an experiment was conducted in a multi-service and hospitality space welcoming both local consumers and tourists (N = 303).FindingsThe findings show that when the scent is perceived as congruent with the brand image, reactions in the store are more favourable. It is not enough to use a scent that “smells good” or that is congruent with other factors (e.g. sensory environment); the scent must be perceived by consumers as consistent with the brand image. Findings also reveal that the diffusion of a scent congruent with the brand image improves guest satisfaction, intention to revisit and perceptions of the product and service.Research limitations/implicationsThe limitations are both the emphasis on direct links and the focus on a French brand (café/co-working space franchise). It would be appropriate to extend the research to other contexts.Practical implicationsThe findings show how important it is for hospitality organisations to use scents to generate a positive impact on their guests. Hotel, restaurant and café managers wishing to enhance customer reactions through the creation of an olfactory atmosphere should take scent congruence with the brand image into consideration.Originality/valueThe study of the effects of the atmosphere on consumer behaviour as a function of olfactory congruence with the brand image uses in-situ experimentation (café/co-working and food and beverage area).
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 15, 2021
Keywords: Atmosphere; Brand image; Consumer behaviour; Congruence; Scent; Cafe; Odour; Olfactory marketing
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