Monday, October 23, 2006

The Ethics of Scent Branding

Yesterday's British Times Online features an interesting article about "scent branding," which is widespread in America and is now arriving in Britain.

Also known as "Muzak for the nose", scent branding refers to the pumping of particular scents into hotel and retail spaces with the aim of influencing shoppers' purchasing decisions.

Writer Iain Hollingshead states, "The smells are not designed as air fresheners. Instead, firms are trying to affect consumer behavior through the subliminal use of smell. The idea is to encourage them to spend more time and money in a store or help them associate a smell with a brand."

Are we entering a slippery slope here? What are the ethical implications of subliminally manipulating our purchasing decisions in this way?

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