The Beginner’s Guide to Scented Printing

Smells Sell! Unlike Jimmy John’s slogan that says “free smells”, we like to consider printable scents’ slogan as “profitable smells.” Why? Smell is the strongest trigger of memory, affecting our emotions and even our mood. Therefore, when scent is incorporated within print media, the message becomes more engaging, evoking an emotional response that goes beyond the visual or written message. A heightened emotional engagement with print media occurs, and is proven to increase consumer recall, redemption, sales, and brand value. The wacky world of scented printing can be confusing, let’s break it down.

1. What are printable scents?

As the same suggests, printable scents are when you imprint a fragrance onto print media. This can be in a retail display, poster, label, etc. The most common names for this are Scratch-N-Sniff or scent marketing.

2. Advantages of printable scents

Advantage 1: Added consumer recall:
Apart from smelling good, studies show that people can relate a scent to memory with 65% accuracy for up to 12 months.
Advantage 2: Added engagement
A research report from Starch Communications confirms that scented print ads increase the readership of ad copy by 136% when a scent is included.
Advantage 3: Differentiation from the competition
Finally, the majority of print media does not contain scents, this inherently creates an opportunity for dramatic differentiation from the competition regardless of the market saturation.

3. Types of Printable Scents

Generally speaking, there are two categories of printable scents and how they are manufactured. There are non-interactive scents and interactive scents and you can manufacture them using a print coating (varnish/slurry) or print ink. A print coating is like varnish for wood. It goes over or under your artwork as a layer of clear scent or fragrance. While scented print ink combines the fragrance with the colored ink that is on your print media.


Interactive Scents
Interactive scents such as Scratch N Sniff or Rub N Smell are the more familiar types of printable scent methods. These incorporate encapsulated fragrances which when scratched or rubbed break and release the scent. The density of capsules that contain the amount of fragrance varies among the printer’s capabilities. This is important because it directly impacts the longevity of the scent, which ultimately impacts the number of interactions that release scent (and ROI). Interactive scents are best applied to coated paper stock and plastics.


Non-Interactive Scents
Non-interactive scents are applied to un-coated, coated paper stock, or blotter paper and will emit a fragrance without being scratched or rubbed. These reach consumers whether they interact with the printed media or not. These would not require a “scratch here” type label.

4. Applications / Examples

Due to our comprehensive all-in-house manufacturing capabilities, we are positioned well to print a wide variety of products – including scents! Typical applications include packaging, retail displays, wall graphics, postcards, brochures, signage, posters, displays, and labels.

5. Facts

  • Researchers at Washington State University discovered that people spent 20% more while shopping in the presence of one simple scent (orange, in this case) compared with those shopping with no scent or more complex scents (e.g. orange-basil blended with green tea)
  • GfK MRI researched 6,514 ads during a four-month period – of those ads, only 49 used scented printing. The scented printed ads received a 19% lift in reader engagement compared to those that didn’t.
  • Mitsubishi utilized a scratch and sniff ad that simulated the leather smell that consumers love and associate with a new car; as a result, the Lancer Evo X sold out in two weeks, and Mitsubishi’s annual sales of the vehicle increased 16% in a market that averaged a 20% decline
  • Yankee Candle added scent to its catalog – sales increased 18%
  • A study carried out at the Rockefeller University shows that in the short term we remember just 1% of what we touch, 2% of what we hear, 5% of what we see, 15% of what we taste and 35% of what we smell.
  • A study by Samsung found that consumers who were exposed to a company scent underestimated their actual shopping time by 26% and visited three times as many product categories or departments.

We want you to grow your revenue and we want you, personally and within your career, to win! Visual communication is awesome, but it takes more than just good artwork, or a well-structured design to get a consumer to buy a product. It’s a balanced recipe of great design, affordable manufacturing cost, clever placement and judicious use of resources. We are here to help!

5 Spellbinding Tricks to Halloween Point of Purchase (POP)

Over the last 15 years, Halloween has become a major cultural event and has grown to be the second-largest commercial holiday in the country. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent approximately $9 billion on Halloween in 2019. Even during COVID, when spending was down, the average amount spent on Halloween items was $92 per person. This means, consumers are not only willing to spend, but they are actively looking and seeking. The merchandiser’s job is to not miss this opportunity by making sure the consumer finds what they are looking for. Here are 5 tricks you can use for Halloween point of purchase.

1. Strategic timing

Typically, about 80 percent of Americans finish their Halloween shopping by mid-October. Make the most out of your Halloween marketing campaign by being ready about 3-5 months in advance of October. On the reverse side of this statistic, we see that 20% of Americans are last-minute shopping. This is a huge and relatively specific market you can target. Regardless of the strategic timing of your merchandising, you need to make to set incremental deadlines for yourself and articulate them to your team, printers, vendors, etc.

2. Simplicity = Profitability?

A simple design is not sexy, FALSE.

“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Sparano

There is a huge difference between boring and simple. Simplicity is removing the clutter. The more simple (i.e less complex) a display is, the less likely it will be to have unforeseen problems. For example, a customer came to us with a display that was 12 different parts. There are a lot of variables that could cause problems when you have unnecessary parts (ex. inefficient/costly shipping, improper setting up). We noticed that most of the extra parts were structural, which is oftentimes, a sign of an inefficient foundational design. We redesigned it to still look the same but require only 4 parts. That simple step immediately created dramatic cost and time savings.

3. Utilize your packaging!

Kill two birds with one stone by using your packaging as a display. In the project above the display is made up of mostly packaging, but you can hardly tell. Product packaging is instinctively inviting and you can subtly use it to your benefit. Additionally, the cost goes down when you have fewer display parts.

Display made of mostly product packaging

4. Utilize Unique Structures

An age-old trick to grabbing shoppers’ attention fast is unique structures. It’s an oldy but a goody because you are breaking expectations of what a display looks like. POP displays that are shaped like different objects or interesting geometric shapes not only stand out from the shelves but from other displays as well. The nice part about Halloween is that you can still keep a sense of familiarity when creating these unique structures by using seasonal-related shapes. Typically, this would be the downside of a unique structure but is not a factor during this time (if done correctly).

5. Provide an Experieince

Customer experience is obviously extremely important. A good display design grabs consumers’ attention, while a great display design, encourages engagement and makes a lasting impression. One of the ways you get a lasting impression is through a unique experience. Halloween is unique because it is already a very impressionistic holiday. When you are merchandising it is best to build upon the groundwork that has already been laid. Tap into some of the pre-existing Halloween experiences like going into haunted houses or carving a pumpkin. A great example is the display below. Underneath the floor graphic is a button that triggers the display to come to life (which happens to be Frankenstein). Obviously, you don’t want it to be too scary, unless that is your brand positioning, but it is a great example of how you can provide a memorable experience by tapping into the classic Halloween tropes and experiences we all know and love.

Display triggered by floor graphic

We want you to grow your revenue and we want you, personally and within your career, to win! Impulse buying is awesome, but it takes more than just good artwork, or a well-structured design to get a consumer to buy a product. It’s a yummy balanced recipe of manufacturing cost, placement, design, time, etc. We are here to help!