Chocolate chip cookies are powerful. The scent of chocolate chip cookies alone can make a sterile room feel cozy, help realtors sell homes, and, according to a new study, the aroma of chocolate chip cookies can boost coffee sales. A team of Swedish researchers wanted to find out if smells wafting from shops onto the sidewalk had any impact on purchasing habits and whether certain scents made consumers more aware of signs and advertisements. It may come as no surprise to those of us who struggle to pass up even mediocre chocolate chip cookies after getting a whiff, but study participants who walked through a chocolate-chip-cookie-scented sidewalk were 50 percent more aware of the café signs they passed than those who weren’t.
The researchers equipped 100 people on a Swedish shopping street with glasses that tracked their eye movements. As they passed a Löfbergs café, some participants were exposed to the aroma of chocolate chip cookies, some smelled coffee and sweet buns, and others walked by the café with no scent at all. Although the coffee and sweet bun scent increased willingness to buy by 40 percent, the delightful aroma of chocolate chip cookies bested that by 21 percent. The cookie scent also led to more positive feelings about Löfbergs, a Swedish coffee corporation and sponsor of the study.
According to Poja Shams, who helped implement the experiment, “Café-related scents drew attention to the café and increased recollections of the sight. This in turn raises the intention to buy.” In short, people notice the scent of chocolate chip cookies. The aroma is universally appealing, and more than even the distinct scent of coffee, the smell of chocolate chip cookies has the power to call to mind your warmest memories and the feeling that satisfaction will be imminent.
In the Swedish study, after sniffing the chocolate-chip-cookie-scented air, study participants spent an average of six seconds looking at the Löfbergs signs, perhaps wondering where exactly the cookies were on the cafe menu. Once inside the café, with no cookies to be found, they likely realized that they had to buy something to satisfy the scent-inspired craving, and in this case, a hot cup of coffee and a Swedish sweet roll did just fine.