Do you have a favorite store? Why do you enjoy shopping there? There’s one element that influences the shopping experience more than you would think — smell.

The human nose is able to detect more than 1 trillion scents. As our sense of smell is closely tied to memory and mood, the way a retail space smells can help determine a customer’s impression of a brand, the amount of time they spend in a store and even how much they spend. Tapping into the subtle sense of smell is a powerful way for brands to create the experiences consumers crave.

As one of North America’s leading providers of scenting services, Ambius helps some of the biggest national brands create better in-store experiences with the use of state-of-the-art scent machines.

Our scents range from citrus and floral to gourmand and woody. While different businesses often require very specific scents or even custom scents, there are a few fragrances that are very popular with retailers.  Below we’ve listed 4 scents that work perfectly in a retail environment along with some interesting information about why these scents are so successful.



The smell of lavender can be described as refreshing, rich, warm, bold, intense, balancing and sweet. This floral scent contains essences of French lavender, bergamot and clary sage. You will often encounter lavender smells in stores that want to create peaceful environments. Studies have found that the smell of lavender can reduce signs of depression and anxiety. Outside of the retail world, lavender is a popular scent for spas and hospitals. Lavender has been used in several hospital waiting rooms to calm visitors and patients alike.

Fresh Cotton


The smell of fresh cotton is another scent brands often turn to in helping their customers feel comfortable. Fresh cotton can be described as casual, soft, clean, friendly and playful. Fresh cotton combines the essence of night-blooming jasmine with white musk. A relaxing aroma, fresh cotton fragrance promotes peaceful feelings. Clothing retailers may be partial to the smell of fresh cotton to reinforce the natural aroma of new clothing fabric.



The smell of vanilla has also been found to reduce depression in studies and is often associated with pleasant childhood memories. The essence of vanilla can be described as warm, inviting, sweet, fun, friendly and reminiscent of purity. Vanilla scents have also been known to calm people. A study in Germany found that humans were startled less when a vanilla fragrance was released into the air. Vanilla is also included in many other scents in the Ambius Premium Scenting catalog, including Peppermint Latte, Marine Sawgrass and more.

Christmas Tree

christmas tree

Anyone who visits their local mall after Thanksgiving in North America knows how important the holiday season is to the retail industry. Stores put out all the stops to attract shoppers. While fire safety laws mostly prevent the installation of live trees, stores can use a Christmas tree fragrance to help spread the spirit of the season.  The scent of Christmas tree can be described as outdoorsy, homey, cold, earthy, sturdy, strong and vibrant. The smell of white pine and birch tree truly captures the winter and the joy of Christmas.

Scenting to portray “clean”


Though we’ve already given you the four scents for retail stores, we wanted to leave you with one last thing. Scenting has another very important benefit for the retail industry. In a world now more concerned with health and safety, the right scent can help you communicate that your store is clean and safe. Customers can’t see new air filters or a disinfected surface — but they can smell clean. With fragrances such as Mandarin Zest, Cucumber Mint or Fresh Clean, a scented environment can help make your customers feel more relaxed and comfortable overall. Learn more about scenting for a cleaner space, here.

Curious about how scent marketing works in the retail industry? Read more about our approach