Shoppers more likely to spend when they smell cookies, and other sensory marketing tricks

Shopping online has changed the game for marketing professionals whose focus is to create a buyer-friendly shopping experience.

But when we're in the stores, our four senses still play a big role in what we buy.

"If you change the background color, or the type of light, or scent, you don't realize it but your body reacts to that non-consciously," says USF marketing professor Dr. Dipayan Biswas.

He studies sensory marketing and says research shows people still like to touch before they buy.

"The Apple Store is good because, no matter how much we shop online, we like to touch and feel products," he says.

Biswas says to notice the colors used by stores and websites. Research shows blue makes people feel more trusting.

"The color on a web page, people have a higher sense of trust about how much they're willing to share. It's not by accident that Facebook and Twitter have blue on the background," he says.  

Biswas says the retail version of this principle is scent. Many stores inject scents through their ventilation systems and we don't even know it. Research shows the smell of cookies makes people buy.

Smells can also change perception.

At a hospital, he did an experiment to see how the scent of lavender affected people in a waiting room. His research showed people's perception of their wait times lowered when they were exposed to the scent of lavender.

"What companies are realizing is you can make customers buy more by using subliminal cues and ambiance," he says.

So, the next time you smell cookies, hold on to your wallet. Research shows that stores with scents make more dollars.